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Being an entrepreneur knows no age, background, nor gender. Many Filipinos dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Well, anyone can be one given the right mindset and attitude, knowledge and skills, and the passion and creativity to do it. It is the character and values that matter in putting up and running a successful business.
Let me share with you the story of Alice Eduardo, the â€œqueenâ€ in a men-dominated construction industry. Her company is the only Filipino group who could do huge piling works for large-scale construction projects of many big corporations like the SM group, Belle, and Bloomberry to name a few. She quietly started in 1996. Today, large foreign and local contractors are sub-contracting to her group for the piling and foundation works.
Alice, at an early age, knew that she would become an entrepreneur. At seven, she was supplying rice grains, pan de sal, and other products to her community. She even drove a truck when she was 14 just so she could go around town.
Alice, the CEO of Sta. Elena Construction and Development, proved that venturing into the construction industry knows no gender. She said â€œGrowing up, I stood constantly in awe of engineering wonders and often thought of them as larger than life. I always thought of how roads and bridges helped people improve their lives. How simply basic and important it was that buildings stood on solid foundation. I was driven by the thought that one day, if I worked hard enough, if I were determined enough, I could put together the team and the equipment to build those things for people. It had nothing to do with being male or female. It had everything to do with the excitement to create lasting structures, the excitement of chasing a dream, the thrill of seeing them come true.â€
Alice reiterated that she never looked at it as a â€œbeat the men in their own game.â€ What she does is to be just herself for she knows that when she does whatâ€™s right, excellence will surely follow. â€œThat will gain the respect of those who recognize your work, whether you, or they, are male or female,â€ she said.
She admitted that running this kind of business is not easy. Adversities struck her company especially during the Asian Financial crisis in 1997. Her company faced a big challenge when she had just purchased brand new high-end heavy machinery in anticipation of more work, but the exact opposite happened.
While there was pressure to sell the equipment at a huge discount, Alice decided to stay steady, and hanged on to the equipment. That kind of willingness to do and face what is difficult has rewarded Sta. Elena.
Today, Santa Elena has a significant portfolio of horizontal construction, roads, bridges, ports, elevated structures and power plants, and she has done over 100 big projects from the private sector for the past 18 years.
Building and pricing each project right is what gained and kept the trust of her clients. Santa Elena Construction and Development Corp., she said, has ensured that their clients see them beyond mere contractor, but as a true partner in their goals.
Doing it right the first time and never compromise is her thrust to ensure positive results. Her secret in running her business smoothly is embracing technology and new approaches, but staying constant on the basic values – what our own conscience tells us.
Despite her remarkable success, Alice never forgets to give back to the community. She is a modern day Good Samaritan. In the recent Filipina Summit, Alice helped a woman from Tacloban named Marivic whose carinderia, her only source of income, was destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda. Marivic shared that she attended the recent summit to get ideas and inspiration in starting again a new business because it was in a Go Negosyo seminar in Tacloban, about four years ago, where she learned a lot and got the courage to start a negosyo. She broke down in tears when she narrated how her dream business was wiped out by Yolanda, and had no one to turn to. She was hoping to find ways to bounce back.
After listening from the inspiring speakers in the morning, she tried her luck to get a chance to solicit a piece of advice from the panelists. Perhaps it was not an accident but Godâ€™s plan for her plight to be heard. Both Senators Cynthia Villar and Alice offered not only advice, but opportunities to go back into business. That day, she was offered to become a resident food concessionaire in the huge construction project in the new Entertainment City near Mall of Asia. She was asked to run the canteen and provide food for more than 4,000 employees in Aliceâ€™s construction site. That was the turning point of her struggle. Today, they are in the process of finalizing the steps for Marivic to start her new catering business that will surely change her life for the better.
â€œI feel strongly about growth and prosperity being spread widely across the countryside.â€ she mentioned.
Aliceâ€™s persistence and vision made her successful. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to choose lifeâ€™s work according to what excites you, and as the saying goes, â€œyou will never â€˜workâ€™ a day in your life,â€ because it simply wonâ€™t feel like work, it will feel like the pursuit of passion.
The search for the right business or work may vary and is really different for many, but at the end of the day it is all about fulfilment in the things that you do.