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I suppose it was only fitting that one of the most successful outings of our free entrepreneurship mentoring roadshow, 3M on Wheels, would be graced by former president and now Pampanga Second District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or, as we all still address her, GMA.
It was during her term as Philippine president that we created Go Negosyo, and it was during this particular outing of 3M on Wheels last Nov. 19 that we brought close to 3,000 the total number of entrepreneurs who have been mentored since April, when we resumed the mall-based program after two years of pandemic restrictions.
In 2005, GMA appointed me as presidential adviser for entrepreneurship. That she would create an office dedicated solely to the advancement of MSMEs in the Philippines spoke volumes about her faith in the Filipino entrepreneur.
Today, her vision for entrepreneurship and its role in national development remains as relevant as when she first set out to create her administration’s legacy programs.
“One of the cornerstones of my administration’s legacy program was to create six to 10 million jobs by, among several measures, supporting three million entrepreneurs. With Joey Concepcion becoming my adviser for entrepreneurship and establishing Go Negosyo, by 2009, the year before my administration ended, seven million entrepreneurs have benefited from microfinance – far exceeding our goal,” she said during our 3M on Wheels event.
Today, that vision resonates even more profoundly. In my new role as the lead for jobs generation in President Marcos’s Private Sector Advisory Council, MSMEs figure prominently in how I plan to help the administration create more employment for our countrymen. As I always remind people, MSMEs generate more than half – nearly 65 percent – of total employment in the Philippines. On the ASEAN level, this figure is even higher: 85 percent. MSMEs are the driver of employment not just in the Philippines, but in the entire ASEAN region. Their growth will benefit so many Filipinos down the line.
GMA also had an interesting insight that dovetailed with the theme of our 3M on Wheels: the opportunity created by digital technology to help our MSMEs better compete in this age of social media and e-commerce.
“Every situation creates an opportunity for business to stay profitable,” GMA said. This has never been more true than it is now. The social media influencers and content creators we invited to speak during the 3M on Wheels event were able to successfully parlay their social media savvy into thriving businesses. They also had the timeless virtues that make every successful entrepreneur – patience, goal-setting, consistency, discipline, aggressive promotion, continuous learning, seeking a mentor, an appetite for risk, and the right mindset – that enabled them to go from amateur vloggers to real-world entrepreneurs.
“For several of these businesses, their success may very well have been because they made sound choices based on information, which one can get from great associations and programs like Kapatid Mentor ME and Mentorship on Wheels,” said GMA. “As our economy recovers, now is the time to be armed with more information about the business you choose to engage in and acquire more know-how through Mentorship on Wheels,” she said.
Indeed, our entrepreneurs now have so many tools at their disposal. Social media apps are available to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Shopping platforms like Lazada empower small businesses in that they can use it to automatically get the capabilities of a large company, such as a national distribution network, a payment system, a logistics system, customer service, and fulfillment. These would not have been possible a scant decade ago, and yet here we are.
As GMA pointed out, Go Negosyo’s programs – especially our “entrepreneurship MBA” program Kapatid Mentor ME for already-established entrepreneurs, and the 3M on Wheels for aspiring entrepreneurs and those who are trying to grow their business – are most relevant now as the Philippines strives to get its economy back in shape after COVID and through the global economic impact of the Ukraine crisis. “In the aftermath of the pandemic and in the face of currency distortions due to the war in Ukraine, entrepreneurship is our best strategy for post-pandemic economic recovery and eventually, for winning the war against poverty,” she said. I could not agree more.
That is why during the 2022 ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, I pushed hard for putting entrepreneurship and the mentoring of entrepreneurs in the mainstream of approaches to achieving inclusive growth and helping alleviate poverty in the region through the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network or AMEN. With AMEN, we have expanded the movement from local to regional, and this we have done in only 17 years after I founded Go Negosyo.
GMA recalls that back in 2006, shortly after Go Negosyo was formed, we put together the first Filipino Entrepreneurs Award, and the first to receive the distinction were the late Henry Sy of the SM Group and Tony Tan Caktiong of Jollibee. “SM and Jollibee are now global brands, so I hope in the near future to hear more success stories about successful entrepreneurs that have become a medium or large business,” she said. “When that time comes, I hope that those who have grown bigger will look back and think of Mentorship on Wheels and Go Negosyo, for strengthening their entrepreneurship,” she said.