Our GEM, the Microentrepreneur

Fortunately, our economy was able to absorb last week’s shocks caused by recent political noise and we are again on a stable path towards a strong peso and stock market. Our economy has gone a long way from being sensitive to issues. The general outlook now is bullish and people continue to realize that no amount of talk or criticism is worth losing the benefits we are already reaping.

In fact, this positive outlook is not only shared by big businessmen. Four out of 10 Filipinos now have businesses and many are looking at business opportunities as the way to go.

Last year, the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship conducted an entrepreneurial survey as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Research. GEM is a brainchild of the best schools on entrepreneurship, Babson College and the London Business School, that aims to uncover factors leading to appropriate levels of entrepreneurship to contribute to crafting policies that may enhance it.

Unlike past researches on Philippine entrepreneurship, this has been the first one to consider the whole population, from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao. With the help of a survey vendor, we surveyed 2,000 randomly selected adult Filipinos, aged 18-64. This makes the results reflect our general country situation.

Results of the survey showed that the typical Filipino entrepreneur is a self-employed and married man, aged 22 to 44, though women also play a strong role in starting a business. In fact, among the 42 countries which joined GEM last year, the Philippines was the highest in terms of women entrepreneurship.

We also had the highest rates of businesses that have lasted for at least three years, which GEM calls as Established Businesses, and only one in 10 businesses has closed down during the past year. This is one proof that optimism has done a great deal to help entrepreneurs endure the so-called series of unfortunate events.

But we still have a lot of things to do. The study showed that many of our existing businesses are still microenterprises and a lot of them still rely on old technology. We have to nurture these businesses, these seedlings of the next generation’s economy, and sustain a positive economic outlook. Introducing new and appropriate technology is one key. We should encourage everyone to adopt a brand of entrepreneurial mindset that is innovative and creative, constantly search for the bright spots or opportunities in the market and try out new business models. I guess, continuously challenging the status quo to take his or her business to the NEXT LEVEL is key to many successful entrepreneurs I know.

With a surprising economic growth, the highest in decades, and bullish investor confidence, we now have a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship. Many Filipinos are now engaging in business because they see these opportunities. Slowly but surely, more Filipinos are benefiting from the country’s economic gains.

Before the year ends, PCE will release the GEM National Report containing more detailed results of this survey, which includes a global comparison of our state of entrepreneurship. We hope that these findings will contribute to crafting more meaningful policies and programs that will continue to inspire more and more Filipinos to have an entrepreneurial mindset and develop a stronger capacity to grab the opportunities we have now.

We have the momentum, Let us all FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY. Let’s continue to rally under a common banner towards our country’s progress and focus on improving our economy. Let us not let ourselves be sidetracked by political controversies which will only veer us away from our goal of becoming an entrepreneurial nation.

As we move towards the end of the ZTE reality show, we hope that our scarce budget resources are used towards the development of the Philippine economy. Let us allow Filipino entrepreneurs to supply the needs of this country and let the government point them to these opportunities. Let us use our funds wisely, allot them to public schools and equip them with enough computers so that students and teachers are able to learn and have access to the internet, have wider exposure to the world and help enhance their creativity. Creativity is also what many of our microentrepreneurs need to move beyond just being micro to being small and eventually become medium to large businesses.

Today’s game between Ateneo and La Salle is supposed to be an exciting game to watch with La Salle having the twice to beat advantage. Maybe this is La Salle’s year as the brothers have remained focus on teaching their students to become entrepreneurs and professionals and veering away from politics. Maybe this will bring them good karma.