Let’s Kill Poverty

Despite yesterday’s bombing at the Batasan Complex, the market still went up and the Philippine peso continued to appreciate. While we condemn what happened, the market reaction shows that people are not letting themselves be affected by the grim happenings in the country and are continuing with their “business as usual” mode.

Just last week, a newspaper carried poverty in the headlines in a depressing news article of a 12-year-old girl committing suicide because her father refused to give her a hundred pesos for a school project. A child who commits suicide because of poverty is certainly a depressing thought but many other factors can be attributed to why this happened. What makes it more depressing is that this girl lost hope in such an early age. Because of her story, many of us became aware of how Filipinos have different ways of coping up with poverty. Some treat it as the end of the line while others use it as a means to succeed in life.

For instance, it’s hard to find a Filipino that goes hungry in other parts of the world. In the Philippines, the possibility does exist especially if they continue to seek refuge in the metropolitan areas versus living in the provinces that has potential in agriculture. It’s hard to imagine how a person from Mindanao would grow hungry especially when the rich and arable land around him allows one the opportunity to plant what he needs to eat. The level of poverty is quite high and if we are to find a solution to poverty, one can say that the solution is to depopulate the metropolitan areas and relocate them to provinces that have good potential for agriculture. This is easier said than done. Poverty can also be best eradicated by creating more jobs. This can be created by having more negosyos.

During the awarding last Tuesday of the 5th Citi’s Microentrepreneur of the Year (MOTY), I sat beside Tessie Sy-Coson of SM and she observed that most of the winners were women and in a way their mother nature comes out naturally in the form of being a negosyante, or her entrepreneurial ability for the family to survive and rise above poverty. The awardees truly have inspiring stories as they are able to surmount life’s toughest challenges while continuing to grow the business. For some, life’s challenges serve as their motivation to persevere in growing the business. Take for example Cecilia Salarda, an MOTY Special awardee who owns a balut business. Her toughest challenge came when her husband got hooked up in vices which put a huge dent in the financial status of the business. Her “blessing-in-disguise” came when their son became seriously ill as Cecilia prayed to God to spare her son and to make her husband a changed man. Miraculously, her prayers were answered as her husband realized his wrongdoings and lived a clean and righteous life from then on. Since then, they were able to recover whatever they lost during those dark times and now business has been doing well. Another awardee with an inspiring story is Maricel Quiap, a furniture maker from Baler, Quezon. Aside from managing the business with her husband, she is also continuing her education in Baler Institute for self-improvement and to be able to help her children in their homework. She does not mind being ridiculed by others since she continued her education so late in life because she believes this will also help in growing their business. There is also the story of Dolores Dorado, the Masikap National Awardee who started her business raising ducks. Dolores allowed her ducks to roam around and eat snails that ravage rice farms so that farmers will allow her ducks to eat the leftover palay in their fields.

These are only examples of inspiring stories of our fellow Filipino who did not let poverty become an end but a means and motivation instead to succeed in life. These people took control of their own destiny and did everything that they can to get out of poverty by being an entrepreneur. I am glad that we have a newspaper like Philippine Star that continues to project the rags-to-riches stories. It’s all a mindset change of positive attitude that clearly shows how these microentrepreneurs succeeded. The significant growth in the number of entrepreneurs basically shows more and more people want to move away from poverty. Let us not wait for God to solve our poverty level, let us not wait for the government to do it for us. God helps those who help themselves. Clearly, the solution to poverty is to gain a positive and entrepreneurial mindset to deal with life. Let’s focus more on negosyo.

Go Negosyo, together with Citi, was able to present the 2007 MOTY winners to President Arroyo yesterday at Malacanan, to give importance to the achievements of these awardees who made it through rough times, who didn’t lose hope and instead succeeded in life. The President’s message to the microentrepreneur community present that morning further inspired each one to pursue this path toward entrepreneurial development, as the way to address poverty. On a lighter note, the President even called someone “Mr. Negosyo”, probably due to “Negosyo” having a top-of mind recall nowadays.

In pursuing the Negosyo environment, we see Go Negosyo advocates such as Chit Juan of Figaro who continues to help the coffee farmers, Tessie Sy-Coson who has helped a lot of microentrepreneurs such as Jenilyn Antonio who now sells Ehje’s Peanut Butter in SM branches, Les Reyes of Reyes Haircutters who also offers free training services from hairstyling to actual operations of a salon business. The big brother – small brother approach is another way how big corporations mentor aspiring entrepreneurs which follows the concept of creating negosyo opportunities for the market you cater to.

Poverty can be overcome but it depends on the attitude of each individual. We will always have the political noise and destabilization plots. The love of politics and gossips will definitely not solve poverty but the change in mindset which we see in those who have started a negosyo and even contributed to jobs generation will spell the difference in addressing the poverty incidence in the country.

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Here’s more feedback on the impact of Go Negosyo to people living outside the country:

Hello Joey. I am now in Kuwait after coming from Jeddah and Riyadh. I am pleasantly surprised to see your Go Negosyo book being read by OFWs. I was surprised to see someone from Arab News carrying it during breakfast and the CFO of Skyfreight bringing the book around as well. He said he bought it from National when he went home. The organization is offering to sell the books in Riyadh. We purchased from PCE some books and we are using it as the Philippine Delegation’s official gift to the various Arabian Chamber Officials we visited. Also send it as a gift to Amb. Endaya of Kuwait who immediately read it in his car. The Philippine organization and embassy is also requesting to bring Go Negosyo to Saudi.