Be smart. Be enterprising.

Tomorrow we will be having the first and biggest Youth Entrepreneurship Summit in SMX Complex at 9am. This summit is supported by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.

In fact, DepEd Sec. Jesli Lapuz, who will celebrate his 60th birthday on Saturday, is putting this event on the top of his birthday activities. Sec. Lapuz is a firm believer of getting students started while still young. As for me, students can immediately start their business as they graduate, especially if they have a clear business idea and a source of funding. Although, there is nothing wrong with first getting a job in an industry of interest to get experience.

This Summit is to encourage the youth, not only to be smart but also to be enterprising. Some would call it as being “street smart”. I would definitely encourage all parents to send their kids to this event. Give them a first hand exposure on what it takes to, not only be smart but more importantly, have what it takes to be enterprising. I would also encourage parents to attend and to learn from successful parents on how they are able to pass on the torch of entrepreneurship to their children and how they mentored them well. They taught their children to possess the right attitude in life, to be passionate in what he or she loves, to have the confidence in executing ideas, and to have hard work persistence and “sipag at tiyaga”.

Francis Kong, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Butch Jimenez and Henry Tenedero will be talking about “what it takes to reach success”. Ideas on what business to start and how to start will be discussed in two forums with Dean Pax Lapid, co-author of our How To Go Negosyo book, and Maoi Arroyo on Biotech ideas. Anton Ramos, will talk about how he started as DJ and compiled his collections, and the struggles of starting and being an entrep. Vicky Belo, together with her children Crystalle and Quark, will also share how their family is able to share the entrepreneurial attitude. These are just among the many entreps who will share their experiences and wisdom on what it takes to be entrepreneurial.

We have also chosen to recognize inspiring young entrepreneurs, not only because of their level of success and achievements. We chose them for their stories and real-life experiences, knowing that they can inspire other young kids to put up their own negosyo someday. In starting early, the risk of failure is always there. Struggles sometimes bring you to a point when you want to give up. Some might have not reached the level of success as the others have, but they all have inspiring stories.

Take for instance the story of 19-year old Angelique dela Cruz. While the rest of the kids her age are out splurging money and time on other priorities, she started her own business born out of her baking hobby when she was 16 years old. Her business, The Sweet Life Cupcakes and Pastries, now employs 15 people. As young as she is, she provides employment, follows her passion and is able to earn her own money.

Another awardee, Benedict Carandang, also pursued his passion and ended up owning his own animation studio. He started Tuldok Animations with his friends, since they had the same dream. They put together their different expertise in order to create a business. This is what we also encourage the youth to do – to find their strength and find opportunities. There are a lot of skill-based businesses out there. All they have to do is to go for it and work hard. Now, Tuldok Animations is finding its way to the forefront of the Philippine Animation Industry.

The same is true with Veejay Floresca, a very forward-looking fashion designer. You may even recognize him as a finalist in the Project Runway Philippines. At 22, his creations have already graced leading fashion magazines in the country. He has also competed in the International Competition for Young Fashion Designers in Paris. People are even saying that he’s one of the designers to watch out for in the future.

The 25-year old Alvin Tan is also a remarkable young man. At his age, he is already the President and CEO of his own I.T. based company. He is an example of a fresh graduate who made his business idea work because of guts and ample preparation. He wasn’t scared of failure and he tried. This is what the youth must learn. They must learn to brave the rain.

Passion can also be best-exemplified by Andre Vocalan. After the death of his father, he dove in the family-owned business. It was only a matter of time until he found ways to merge his passion for arts and culture into the tradition of their Balaw Balaw Restaurant. Today, his restaurant is a destination for people who have the passion for food, adventure, arts and culture.

Melody Ayupan was also exposed to a business culture at an early age. She started selling different goods when she was 12 years old. Melody started developing her soaps when she was 15, with the help of a family friend who is a chemist. Today, this 24-year old Benguet-based young entrep now runs her own organic soap business, capitalizing from the plenty supply of strawberries in the mountains as her raw materials.

Nicole Whisenhunt’s work might also be familiar to a lot of the youth out there. Her works can now be seen all over magazines and fashion blogs. She even sells her own hand-sewn bib necklaces. In fact, my wife even bought some of her jewelry. One day, she will definitely reach heights in her chosen craft.

Mon Punzalan and Jowee Alviar started with two computers in a garage in Parañaque. Today, Team Manila designs on shirts and accessories are now sold around Metro Manila. As young as these entrepreneurs are, they were able to establish their own name in the graphic design industry. They are well-known for their youthful and spunky ideas and designs.

This is why it is important for us, as newscasters, columnists, people from media and fellow Filipinos, to be careful when we make statements that destroy confidence and hope and create fear. Many people keep on saying that our economy is in a mess, and that as a country we are bankrupt, or that the peso will hit 100. They say that the government is corrupt, and we are the most corrupt country in the world. We need to put things in the proper context. Some people may not like PGMA, but let us just be aware that it is time we inspire a nation and not bring down our own country. Not everyone who works for government is corrupt. There is definitely a big majority of government employees who work hard and have given the best they can. The youth cannot be fearful and must be full of confidence.

Let’s not turn this nation into a nation of complainers, but a nation of enterprising Filipinos.

Go Negosyo welcomes you all tomorrow at the SMX Complex, SM Mall of Asia and learn what it takes to be smart and enterprising.