Through the years, people have been asking me the question Why? and What made me start this advocacy on entrepreneurship? Some felt I was politically motivated to create this, so one day I could run for some political position. Actually about 3 elections have passed and yes, offers were made for me to run for the Senate but I had to politely beg off as politics is really not for me.
In 2004, a year before this Go Negosyo advocacy started, my wife met someone who was building houses for the poor and she told me I should meet the organization called Gawad Kalinga . I ignored it at the start, but somehow things fell into place that I got to meet its leaders Tony Meloto and Boy Montelibano. At that time, they were just starting and they explained what they do, until I got to attend the huge GK event that year, which was also attended by President PGMA.
Tony did inspire me and we started our own GK village thru the community at the back of RFM building in Mandaluyong. RFM and Concepcion sponsored the upgrading of the living condition in that area. The Selecta Ice cream JV likewise set-up their community near their plant in Manggahan Pasig. As I went through the GK set-up, I felt it would be good to encourage and create more economic activities in these villages to sustain themselves.
The exposure in those communities made me realize the need to have an environment that can create more entrepreneurial opportunities, or on a broader scale, the need to have a country of entrepreneurial Filipinos. Fortunately, at about the same time, I was offered by then President Gloria Arroyo to help the country. She offered me to be a Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship. It was not a Cabinet rank and it did not have any budget or salary. But Tony did touch my heart, so i viewed the offer as probably the time to give back to our society, a great opportunity to help others. That was when I decided maybe it’s God’s calling.
So I began to think of how to structure the advocacy. At first, I thought that it will have to be in my private capacity to institutionalize an organization that will plan and implement a program that will aim to build a country of enterprising Filipinos.
At that time, I felt the way to get started was to ask the private sector to help support the programs that would build a platform on how to inculcate an enterprising mindset among Filipinos, taking inspiration from the many successful Filipino-Chinese entrepreneurs.
So we put-up the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) Foundation Inc, a non-government organization, that has since then been working on many programs that will elevate the awareness and competencies of Filipinos on entrepreneurship. We adopted a battlecry called Go Negosyo, which I remember was a slogan that we were considering when I was brainstorming with my team way back in 2005. We used the word Negosyo since it is more easily understood (and spelled) than entrepreneurship. And I thought that taking the two letters in the middle of Negosyo which is GO gives it the energy of GO (to do it now).
That Go Negosyo battlecry became the slogan and in effect the brand that we are now known for. It is a call to action for Filipinos to have a change of mindset into a positive and progressive one. A culture change is what we aim to achieve for Filipinos to beat poverty and move up in life. We had to complement it with training and capacity building programs for Filipinos to have the necessary competencies to move forward.
The Trustees who I invited to help me are like-minded individuals who are self-made entrepreneurs who also believe in this Vision that the answer to poverty is thru the creation of more negosyos and to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship. I felt we had to create the new heroes who are the entrepreneurs who are really the problem solvers and can move much faster. We worked with the DEPED and eventually CHED, to have entrepreneurship introduced early in grade school, high school and then in college. We got the private sector rallied behind the cause, led by Nanay Coring Ramos of National bookstore, Felipe Gozon of GMA, Esther Vibal of Vibal Publishing, Manny Pangilinan (MVP) and many more who supported the programs and used media to help us create our new idols called bossing.
We ran hundreds of Summits and seminars to inspire and empower the Filipinos with the relevant entrep tools. I remember during our first entrepreneurship Summit at BGC, Mr. Henry Sy himself attended, aided by his son Harley, together with Roland Hortaleza of Splash, Vivienne Tan of Entrepreneurship School of Asia, Jay Aldeguer of Islands Group, IT entrep Myla Villanueva, Victor Tan of Bobson, Vicki Belo, Ray Gapuz, Cecilio Pedro of Hapee, Henry Lim Bon Liong of SL Agritech, Anna Periquet, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters, Richie Cuna of Fiorgelato, Rommel Juan of Binalot, just to name a few who joined us at the start.
From then on, more and more successful entrepreneurs shared their time and talent in joining our fora, and mentoring sessions. Angelpreneurs or a team of Go Negosyo entrepreneur gurus and lecturers likewise adopted the advocacy as their venue to help other Filipinos – Dean Pax Lapid, Butz Bartolome, Jorge Wieneke, Carlo Calimon, Tess Dimaculangan, Armand Bengco, Josiah Go, Mylene Abiva, Paulo Tibig, Ardy Roberto, Cholo Gonzales, to name a few. They are the educators who spend hours sharing their experiences and teaching the “how-to’s” in entrepreneurship.
We also documented the vast collective experiences and learnings of many entrepreneurs in all the nine books we have published so that there would be reading materials for any aspiring and start-ups to refer to.
With many program partnerships with both private and government groups, we reach this stage when entrepreneurship and support to various underprivileged sectors have flourished as we accelerated Negosyo Summits and program support to the micro and small enterprises, to the women, youth, agriculture, tourism, OFW, out-of-school youth, and PWDs.
In recent years, we developed close partnerships with the groups of Sen. Cynthia Villar as we mount every year the OFW and Families Negosyo Summits, Sen. Bam Aquino also initiated the landmark Go Negosyo Act that consolidated support to the micro SME sector, and Sen. Grace Poe who has empowered many Filipinas in our Filipina Entrepreneurship Summits.
Go Negosyo has been privileged to do its share and to partner with many groups to help build a country of enterprising Filipinos. We are committed to take this advocacy to the next level. We thank everyone who has been part of this cause.