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We were saddened this week by the news that the great Washington SyCip, who co-founded SGV & Co., one of the top auditing and accounting firms in Asia, died quietly while on a flight to Vancouver.
Born in Manila on June 30, 1921, to Albino and Helen SyCip, Wash SyCip is one of the inspiring Go Negosyo entrepreneurs that we look up to.
While he simply thinks of himself as a humble bookkeeper, Wash is a man of astounding accomplishments even from the beginning. He passed the licensure examination for Certified Public Accountants at the age of 18. As he was too young to get the professional license and practice as a CPA in the Philippines, he went to the United States and earned a PhD at the Columbia University. While he was working on his doctoral dissertation, Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Base were bombed prompting him to go back to his family in Manila at the war’s end.
The promising opportunities during the nation’s postwar reconstruction encouraged Wash to set up his own accounting firm, W. SyCip & Co., in Binondo. With the growth of his first venture, SyCip, along with his longtime friend Alfredo M. Velayo, renamed the firm to SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV).
Wash was also a known advocate for the improvement of public education, micro finance and entrepreneurship, and public health in the Philippines. He had a strong belief in the Filipino talent and had worked to alleviate poverty in the country through various initiatives.
After his retirement from SGV in 1996, he remained active in both his business and civic endeavors. Among his last involvements was the Zero Dropout Program, an initiative funded by SyCip’s WS Family Foundation and implemented by social development institution CARD MRI.
Since 2011, the initiative provides parents an opportunity to access quality education for their children through an education loan program. It enables parents to secure a loan from P1,000 to P3,000, payable in three to six months, to augment school expenses of their children. Low interest rates ensure that their sons and daughters will be able to finish their studies.
With his fervent desire to address poverty in the country by eradicating illiteracy, the Zero Dropout Program is designed to be a reliable educational loan program that unlocks educational opportunities normally unavailable to the financially disadvantaged. The project banks on improving the ability of children to read and write thereby increasing their chances of coping in a competitive world.
In our recent interview with Wash for Go Negosyo’s inspiring entrepreneurs book, he said, “While the Philippines enjoys strong economic growth, many Filipinos still suffer from immense poverty. It is our duty to help them surpass this struggle with the tools provided by education so that they may experience new opportunities in our rapidly-changing country.”
Go Negosyo deeply mourns the passing of an icon, mentor leader, and advocate of entrepreneurship in the country. Go Negosyo is honored to have had Wash participate in its past events, as he had been very supportive of Go Negosyo’s mission of uplifting lives through entrepreneurship. His story of triumphs and challenges was even featured in one of Go Negosyo’s books.
Whenever he attended our events,Wash always had a warm smile for everyone. In fact, less than a month ago, he attended the successful ASEAN Business Awards in Solaire. With no trace of any illnesses, he graced the event and was a magnet to other entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs would often take photos with him which he gladly obliged to.
I remember during our book launch for the inspiring women entrepreneurs in 2016, he was about to leave when we asked him what his simple wish for the country is and he said, “By the end of another six years, when the new president comes in, half of the Senate, half of the House will be women!”
As one of the foremost practitioners of accounting in the Philippines and Asia, we are certain that his inspiring entrepreneurial journey and passion will forever be remembered and his legacy will remain in our hearts and minds.