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In the 21st century we live in, we see more and more leading women, more inspiring women. They are more empowered and they have more control of their destinies. They have triumphed over challenges. They help themselves and they also help empower others. Truly, they are changing lives.
For our 8th Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit, we are once again recognizing a number of compassionate and inspiring Filipina entrepreneurs who have showed us that through their enterprises and advocacies they have made an outstanding difference and left great examples in their communities and the country.
It has been a challenging process once again for our selection committee. From a long list of Filipina entrepreneurs taking center stage in their industries, we have rounded down the list to just sixteen.
Let me share with you the stories of four inspiring Filipina awardees who are social entrepreneurs and some who started as microentrepreneurs.
Social entrepreneurs Fatima Lorenzo and Cristina Liamzon
First on our list is Teresita Valdez of Viana Food Condiments. I met her during the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards last 2014 and I, too, was touched by her story. Teresita was still living in Navotas when she started working as a helper in a bagoong factory at the age of 13. She did not have the benefit of a proper education, but because of her early employment which gave her a deep knowledge about the business coupled with hard work, she was able to set up her own business, in 1994. She started the business with a capital of only P10, 000 and borrowed from microfinance firms to expand the business. Viana Food Condiments manufactures sautéed shrimp paste and anchovy sauces popularly known to us as bagoong. Today, her bagoong business has flourished and she has customers not only from the country but also abroad.
Another microentrepreneur who will receive an award during our Filipina Summit is Lydia Malot of Lydia’s Nata De Coco. Many aspiring entrepreneurs might think that having a few hundreds in their pockets is not enough to start a business. Lydia proved otherwise. She started her business with just P300 after reading a magazine with step-by-step instructions on how to make a nata de coco. This motivated her to turn her dream of having a better life into a reality. With the help of a microfinance company in their region, Lydia started her production in 1993. Today, Lydia has tapped a bigger market by becoming one of the top suppliers of nata de coco to large food and beverage companies in the country. From a humble public school teacher in Davao, Lydia is now a successful entrepreneur who continues to be an inspiring role model to the members of her community.
Aside from microentrepreneurs, we also recognize social entrepreneurs who have contributed to change in the communities that benefit in their advocacies.
Fatima Lorenzo, Philippine’s first Ashoka fellow, started Kythe Foundation in 1992 to provide children with cancer and other chronic illnesses with psychosocial support. Since their establishment, 8,000 children have been given support and have received counselling and emotional support through the help of volunteers and the Kythe Child Life coordinators. Kythe and its hospital partners believe that through their programs, children who are to undergo major surgeries or procedures are emotionally prepared and encouraged to aim for their healing and growth. Aside from donations, Kythe also has programs such as Adopt-a-Hospital, Adopt-a-Patient, Tithe for Kythe and other monthly programs for its patients. This is a challenging task, but in their selfless desire to help children, Fatima and Kythe will continue to provide therapeutic affection towards their beneficiaries.
Let me also share with you the efforts of Cristina Liamzon. She has built a global community of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who are empowered through leadership and educational programs on entrepreneurship and other related topics. I remember we held some Go Negosyo seminars a few years ago in some of their OFW communities in Rome. Our Angelpreneurs Dean Pax Lapid, Ping Sotto and Mon Lopez helped in that mission. Tina believes that by influencing the mindset of our hard working OFWs, they can look beyond their current status and plan for long-term goals which will help their families and themselves. Through the Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Program, OFWs receive financial literacy trainings, counselling and mentorships, and most especially entrepreneurship classes.
The inspiring stories of entrepreneurship of Teresita Valdez, Lydia Malot, Fatima Lorenzo, and Tina Liamzon began after seeing opportunities for growth and willingness to extend help towards others. They all came from different backgrounds. Like we always say, it does not matter if most entrepreneurs started small, as long as they have the vision to level up and improve. As for social entrepreneurs, the key to their success is the success of their beneficiaries, and the communities they help and empower.
These are just four of Go Negosyo’s Inspiring Filipina Awardees of 2016. I will share more of their stories next time.