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Last Wednesday, I was invited to present an award at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY). EOY has been awarding the most outstanding Filipino entrepreneurs and showcasing their success as role models for other entrepreneurs. It was a milestone event since the EOY in the Philippines is now on its 10th year. We still remember when Jollibeeâ€™s inspiring founder Tony Tan Caktiong won the first EOY, and eventually even the World Entrepreneur of the Year at Monaco. Such a proud moment for the Filipino entrepreneur community.
For the last five years, I have been invited to award the Small Business Entrepreneur Award category, an area where Go Negosyo has been focusing on over the past eight years. Today, Go Negosyo is supported by over 600 entrepreneurs, and many of them have been EOY winners as well, or finalists from the Ernst and Young entrepreneur search, or selected in PLDT SME Nation Bossings search and in our Go Negosyo recognitions in the different summits we do. The satisfaction in receiving an award in any of these recognitions in a way pays for the sacrifice each entrepreneur goes through as there are more failures that success. And even to those who have succeeded, many of them fail at different points in their journey, but through persistence, perseverance and passion and with the right business model, they eventually succeed.
In last weekâ€™s EOY, I was moved by the inspiring messages given by Mark Weinberger, EY Global chairman and chief executive officer. SGV chairman and managing partner Vic Noel and his team did another great awarding ceremony, and as the 12 finalists were presented, their respective stories, words of wisdom and advice were true inspiration and learnings to everyone.
I was not feeling well that evening and told the organizers that I had a very bad cold, but through the help of my doctor, Dr. Celdran, who was been so patient with me through the years, I managed to arrive and award the Small Entrepreneur of the Year. I am glad I made it since the winner this year is the multi-awarded Leonarda Capuyan, more known for her Nardaâ€™s Handwoven Arts and Crafts Inc. of La Trinidad, Benguet. She was mentored by my father during his DTI days as Secretary of Trade and Industry, and she was also a Go Negosyo awardee for Baguio some years back, as well as a Go Negosyo advocate.
Narda, who is probably in her 60s, is truly an inspiring story coming from Baguio. As a family planning nurse in Benguet, she used to provide counselling to indigenous women who came to the clinic. One day, a woman promised not to get pregnant if Narda would give her the yarn that she uses in her knitting. That woman eventually came back with a very beautiful blanket. The woman asked for more yarns and eventually other indigenous women were weaving very beautiful and uniquely woven products, so this gave Narda a great idea to help them by providing a steady supply of raw materials and eventually help them market the finished goods. Today Nardaâ€™s woven handicrafts are marketed locally and abroad to Japan, Germany, Australia, Canada, France, Italy and Hong Kong. Nardaâ€™s EOY recognition is well deserved. She has a very inspiring entrepreneurial journey that uplifts the spirit of every entrepreneur who knows her.
Narda came up the stage almost in tears, and she hugged me as she received the award from me, Erramon Aboitiz, and Tennyson Chen, both EOY past awardees in 2010 and 2011.
I was also happy to witness that our Go Negosyo advocate Juliet Herrera of Serenitea Cha Kitchen receive the Young Entrepreneur Award, as well as Dr. Milagros How of Universal Harvester; who bagged the Women Entrepreneur Award.
As the night progressed, Ben Chan of Suyen Corporation, maker of the famous brand Bench, receive the Master Entrepreneur Award and the most coveted Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines. He would be the countryâ€™s representative to the World Entrepreneur of The Year 2014 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June next year.
My admiration also goes to the other national finalists who everyone considers already as winners and leading entrepreneurs, namely: Santi Araneta (LBC Express Inc.), Alexander Bangsoy (Goshen Land Capital, Inc.), Maria Lorena Simeon-Florendo (LIFEDATA Systems Inc.), Alberto Lina (Airfreight 2100, Inc.), Cesar Mario Mamon (Enchanted Kingdom, Inc.), Manuel Osmena (Manny O. Group), Dr. Victor Perez (University of Cagayan Valley), and Rajan A Uttamchandani (Esquire Financing Inc.).
Congratulations to the awardees, finalists and organizers! You are the changemakers and leading nation-builders that help make this country move forward, giving hope and jobs to many Filipinos.
It is nice to see entrepreneurs succeed and eventually join the cause of Go Negosyo to inspire others. This is how we see our successful entrepreneurs paying back, and also by pushing for inclusive growth, but let me save that topic for my next column.
Talking about micro and small entrepreneur, just the other day, I took part in judging the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) together with BSP Governor Armando Tentangco Jr., Mr. Batara Sianturi (Citi country officer for the Philippines), Marixi Rufino-Prieto (The Philippine Daily Inquirer), Felipe Gozon (GMA Network Inc.), Antonino L. Alindogan Jr. (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), Dr. Darwin D. Yu (Ateneo de Manila University â€“ John Gokongwei School of Management, and Sec. Imelda Nicolas (Commission on Filipinos Overseas). CMA is a program that Go Negosyo has participated for the last five years. This is an area where we really would like our micro and small entrepreneurs to move beyond the survival mode. The finalists this year are Jennilyn Antonio (peanut butter), Jerilyn Lucareza(meat products), Clarita Buenavente (clinics and maternity services), Marylyn Cleto (mini-grocery and broom manufacturing), Enrico Fojas (production and retail of fish and animal feeds), Ma. Guidella Argabio (sugarcane farming), Regina Paller (roadside eatery serving oysters), Heidi Alimios (events organizing), Necy Ann Ty(mountaineering gears), Julieta Lacanilao (costume making and rentals), Anita de Andres (dried fish), Rosario Caparas (buchi-making), and Ramil Tuazon (chlorella related products).
The winners will be announced during the event itself. Their stories really show how women are natural entrepreneurs. Their motivation is family and their inspiration of faith is always God. And their attitude is one of sikap and tiyaga. This gives me the heart to continue the Go Negosyo advocacy and this is shared by fellow entrepreneurs who have been with us through these eight years.