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Last Monday, the whole Go Negosyo team was at the Marriott Hotel with LBC Solutions to launch LBC KaBiz, a negosyo advocacy that aims to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) improve their businesses by offering logistic solutions to suit their needs. This is not just another program from LBC Solutions — this is their affirmation that they are supportive of the growing Filipino businesses and their contribution to the country. We also unveiled the “KaBiz Discount Card”, which offers discounts to the 600 entrepreneurs in the Go Negosyo community. We at Go Negosyo truly welcome this kind of partnership, because we need partners who will help us set the mood so that Filipinos will be encouraged to start their own business.
As a business reaches the point where expansion is inevitable, logistics play a very crucial role for the expansion’s success. Whether in keeping the raw materials coming on time, up to delivering the product to the customers’ doorstep, a negosyante needs a logistics provider that he can rely on so he can focus on other important aspects of the business. LBC Solutions has been a tested partner by most companies today, such as in the case of FERN Inc., headed by its president and CEO Tommanny Tan.
Tommanny is one of our most active entrepreneurs in the Go Negosyo community. He always finds time to attend our seminars and share his success story. He was raised to become an entrepreneur, and he learned the value of earning money at an early age. He knew that he could use his experience from school and employment in his business, so he managed to graduate at the De La Salle University with a degree in Computer Science. Along the line, he was tasked to run a warehouse, and for more than 10 years he immersed himself in the trade industry.
In 2003, Tommanny and his business partners started FERN, Inc., which stands for Filipino Entrepreneurs and Resources Network. It is a full-blown direct selling company that offers everything, from clothing, shoes and bags, to supplements. In 2005 he became FERN Inc.’s president, and Tommanny took it as a challenge upon himself. He doesn’t want FERN, Inc. to be just another direct selling company, so he browsed on every product that they offer and checked if the competition also has it. He then decided to focus with FERN-C, which is the only non-acidic vitamin C in the market and the only product in their list that is unique to them. All the other products are kept inside their small warehouse, which also served as their showroom and office for him and his staff of six. He even recalled that their space was so small, that boxes of jeans and women undergarments are stacked behind his desk.
Selling FERN-C was another challenge for Tommanny. He recognizes that Filipinos stand by the principle of “to see is to believe”. He used the product himself and gave samples of FERN-C to his employees. At that time, all of his four children had asthma, and it is normal for them to visit the doctor once every two weeks. There was even a time when all of his kids had asthma attacks simultaneously. After convincing his wife, he made his family take FERN-C, and after they started taking it, the kids rarely visited the hospital. FERN-C also worked wonders for his employees, and this is where the company started growing.
FERN Inc. grew through word-of-mouth, and soon they had direct sellers coming from far-flung areas in the country. LBC, who has been with FERN, Inc. since 2003, was able to provide reliable service and has been able to keep up with the fast-changing needs of the company. Through LBC, direct sellers were able to get the products as soon as they need it. Aside from ensuring timely delivery of the products, LBC even customized their service to meet the company’s demands. Most of the LBC warehouses today have a FERN office, which houses FERN products. These offices are managed and operated in compliance with US standards. Truly, LBC was able to transcend from being a mere carrier to a logistics provider, contributing to the success that FERN Inc. is currently enjoying.
FERN Inc. began to offer three more products, including FERN Slim, FERNCoffee, and FERN i-flex, which are all health supplements. Just recently, even the habagat last August did not stop FERN Inc. from launching i-FERN, which is their answer to the call of global expansion. Tommanny teaches his more than one million members that the goal is not to sell as much FERN-C as they can, but to share prosperity through entrepreneurship. It is his charismatic and passionate style of leadership that earned him the respect and admiration of his members and the entrepreneurship community, giving the direct selling business a whole new image. As a Go Negosyo advocate and LBC Solution’s KaBiz, I had to ask him if he believes that now is the time for Filipinos. He answered:
“Pilipinas, it’s now really our time. I vow to share prosperity through entrepreneurship on a global scale. Soon, i-FERN will pave the way for Filipinos to become Global Entrepreneurs.”
As I write this column, I received a text that one of Go Negosyo’s Angelprenuers Reuel Virtucio died at a very young age of 49. He is one of the best mentors that we ever had. Reuel was always there for the advocacy, ready to inspire and teach aspiring entrepreneurs on the basics of starting and growing a negosyo. He was making a difference in changing lives, empowering underprivileged Filipinos to learn entrepreneurship. In fact, he was just with the Go Negosyo team last week in Aklan during the Negosyo sa Barangay level-up sessions. Over the years, Reuel has shared his expertise as an entrepreneur and professor at AIM. More recently, he was involved with Manok Mabuhay, a social enterprise that gives farmers an alternative means of livelihood and a chance to improve their lives. He is survived by Carina and two kids. From being a Go Negosyo Angelpreneur, Reuel is now a real angel in heaven. We wish to thank Reuel for his deep involvement in our mission. The Go Negosyo community will sorely miss you.
Last night, I was at the Museum of the Filipino People in Manila for the Bossing Banquet 2012. It was nice to see fellow bossings come together and celebrate the spirit of the Filipino entrepreneur. Go Negosyo and PLDT SME Nation will be welcoming another batch of bossings in November, who will be new inspirations for aspiring negosyantes to have a business of their own.