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We are living in an era where women are regarded as equally capable as men. If we look around, our country alone has seen several women holding key positions in government, in the academe, and even in business and the private sector. In fact, the majority of startup businesses in the SME category are established by women, who are based at home to take care of their families. That is why it is important for Go Negosyo to recognize women who have shown passion and determination to succeed in their businesses, because their stories will inspire other Filipinos to take the entrepreneurial route and be successful in life.
On March 1, we will be awarding three Women Entrepreneur Icons and 11 Filipina Entrepreneurs during the 5th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit at the World Trade Center Manila. Here are their stories.
Go Negosyo women entrepreneur icons
At 99 years old, Dr. Helena Z. Benitez continues to actively devote her time to the welfare of Filipinos. Her parents, who are both educators, heavily influenced her, and this is the reason why she guided the Philippine Womenâ€™s University to become the leading academic institution for womenâ€™s education. During her term as senator, she authored laws on womenâ€™s rights and protection of the environment. Later on, she became the Philippine delegate in important international conventions such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Environment Program. Up to this day, Dr. Benitez has remained steadfast in promoting her causes, and she even continues to attend board meetings and organizational gatherings on a regular basis. She was once asked what her secret was to keeping up with the things that she does, and she answered, â€œYou must be a picture of what you want to show. Prove by doing and being. You cannot successfully teach what you do not do.â€
Socorro Ramos has been an entrepreneur for all her life. She started working at 12 years old, taking on various jobs. She knew beforehand that she would not succeed in life if she continued to be an employee, so Nanay Coring and her husband established their own business more than 70 years ago. Despite the obstacles that the business faced, she guided National Book Store to become the industry leader it is today. At 89, she continues to inspire people by sharing her story and teaching the lessons that she learned during her long entrepreneurial journey. For Nanay Coring, the most important thing that an entrepreneur must do is to work hard. â€œIf you have the passion for what you do, then hard work is not a sacrifice at all.â€
For Vibal Publishing House, Inc.â€™s Esther Vibal, entrepreneurship is more of a social responsibility. â€œItâ€™s not about money matters alone but itâ€™s about improving your life, developing a concern towards others, having a desire to look into their situation and giving back by making it possible for others to improve their lives, too.â€ This is why she remains a steadfast supporter of Go Negosyo. She and her husband started as a part-time publisher in 1957, and from there she led Vibal Publishing to become the pioneer publication company of quality books and instructional materials. She has maintained her entrepreneurial eye for spotting business opportunities in spite of being 86 years old, as proven by the recent launch of Vibe E-Bookstore, their newest endeavor that involves technology and publication in teaching young minds.
Go Negosyo Filipina entrepreneurs of 2013
Maria Fe Perez-Agudo finished her degree in Accountancy at the St. Scholasticaâ€™s College as a full scholar, and after graduation she worked to send her siblings to school. From starting in sales, she shifted to real estate and has remained there for 20 years. Her biggest break came in 2001 when she was given the task of running Hyundai. Veterans in the automobile industry cast their doubts, as they were wary about what a woman could do in a male-dominated field. But 12 years later, she has proven her competency by moving the brand up as one of the top automobile companies in the country.
Cynthia Villar made a mark not only because she is the wife of a prominent political figure, but because of her own efforts in social entrepreneurship. Together with her husband Manny, they established a business in real estate. As the business flourished and Manny entered politics, Cynthiaâ€™s vision grew further, and she saw the need to help other Filipinos to establish sustainable enterprises. The Villar Foundation emerged from that vision, and for more than 20 years they have been helping Filipinos build their own lives.
Charita Puentespina may have been a cum laude graduate back in college, but she preferred to work hard and get her hands dirty. Puentespina Orchids and Tropical Plants, Inc. was the result of her passion, and it was through her initiative of introducing technology and discovering techniques in growing orchids and potted plants that raised the bar of quality in the field of horticulture.
Another woman who carved her own niche away from the shadows of her well-known husband is Dr. Preciosa Soliven. Married to the late Max Soliven, she is a social philanthropist who is deeply concerned about the quality of education that Filipino kids get. Dr. Soliven went abroad to study directly under the guidance of Maria Montessoriâ€™s son. Soon after, she established OB Montessori, Inc. in the poorest area in Sapang Palay during the late â€™70s, and since then the institution has been providing an alternative means of learning to its students.
PR Gaz Holdings, Inc.â€™s Siu Ping Par, who is one of Go Negosyoâ€™s active advocates, took it upon herself to make sure that PR Gaz is accessible, and this prompted her to open their brand for franchising. Eventually, this became the reason why the company boosted its sales, and PR Gaz set an industry trend to franchise LPG products.
Tina Maristela-Ocampo made an impact in the Philippine fashion industry by organizing the Professional Models Association of the Philippines, a move that instituted modeling as a profession in our country. Later on, she successfully broke into the international fashion scene, not as a model but as an entrepreneur through the Celestina minaudieres that she designed.
Via Mareâ€™s Glenda Barretto learned how to cook from her mother at a young age, and this has developed her love for Filipino cuisine. When she and her husband established their own business, her creativity kicked in and they put up a restaurant that gave a twist to the dishes that everyone grew up with, making us love Filipino food even more.
As a doctor, Dr. Eleanor B. Tan of Healthway Medical knew the importance of taking care of oneâ€™s health. But she was also aware that due to time constraints, people would choose to be with their families instead of visiting the clinic in their spare time. Her vision paved the way for â€œAlagang Healthwayâ€ to come to reality, where her medical clinics are located in major malls for healthcare to be more accessible to the public.
An events management company is always filled with tension, but Bambi Verzoâ€™s relaxed but organized management style keeps her employees at bay. Concertus Manilaâ€™s goal is to bring excellence and quality to their clients, and to do that, it is important for her team to be calm yet on their toes. Her teamâ€™s work ethic has been a factor in why her company is able to successfully stage foreign acts and world-renowned plays such as The Phantom of the Opera and the upcoming show Dirty Dancing this year.
Dr. Vivian Sarabia of Vivian Sarabia Optical was able to make a name for herself by introducing style and fashion to otherwise dull eyewear. Aside from running her company, she has also taken an active stance in improving the optometry industry as the chairperson of the Professional Regulations Commission-Board of Optometry and the director for external relations of the Philippine Association of Professional Regulatory Board Members Inc.
Lastly, Heny Sison of the Heny Sison Culinary School made a major shift when she decided to focus on baking instead of pursing a job related to her degree in Political Science. Her â€œgarage classroomâ€ where she started teaching in 1985 has grown to become the countryâ€™s most prominent baking school, having produced talented chefs and food entrepreneurs in the process.