The OFW Entrepreneur

Let me dedicate this column to our country’s OFWs and balikbayans who have started to arrive in time for the holidays. Today, our OFWs and balikbayans are one of the biggest contributors to the country’s economy, not only because of their remittances but also through significant investments they have started to put in some businesses and real estate, and also in improving the household spending of their loved ones in the Philippines.   Many of them have also started to save and invest in various financial instruments and businesses. 

These were also the topics that were discussed in the recently concluded Go Negosyo for OFWs and Balikbayans.  It was another successful Go Negosyo gathering with the multitude of people that flocked the expo at the Market Market last Saturday and Sunday.

The objective was basically to showcase different business ideas and alternative investments that they can do.  The first forum centered on how different sectors of the economy can work together to reach to the needs of the micro and small and medium entrepreneurs.  We saw how a big bank like Citibank, represented in the forum by no less than its Country Head Sanjiv Vohra, tied up with micro finance institutions to lend to the micro entrepreneurs. 

There was Atty. Gozon of GMA 7, who is also a very active Phil Center for Entrepreneur trustee and supporter of Go Negosyo, who expounded on the role of media in advocating entrepreneurship and shared his personal views on how one can become a successful entrepreneur. 

The progressive Mayor Tinga of Taguig likewise graced the forum and showed how LGUs should spearhead efforts to promote entrepreneurship in their respective areas.  There was also a good interaction with three awardees from Citibank’s Microentrepreneur of the Year namely Jennilyn Antonio, Jose Ortega Jr. and Nolie Estocado and with the one of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneur awardees, Dr. Eugenio Dayag.

Interestingly, there exists a law that provides a leg up for would-be entrepreneurs. The Magna Carta for SMEs mandates that banks lend to SME’s about 8 percent of their loan portfolio. However, what happens is that some banks opt to invest in alternative instruments allowed for compliance or just pay the penalties for not complying with this law.  In order to develop micro and SME’s, it would be helpful to plough back the proceeds of the penalties to MFI’s. These institutions in turn can relend the accumulated penalties to the microentrepreneurs and SME’s, who are the intended borrowers in the first place.

The rural banks and MFIs play a crucial role in lending to microentrepreneurs.   According to the Bangko Sentral, lending is about P4.2 billion and we need to increase this level to meet up to the estimated P20 billion demand for microfinancing.

Clearly if we want to spur the development of negosyos, the banks will have to go out and start aggressively lending at least to MFIs and rural banks who may know the communities better and have a program that instills the proper values to the borrowers.

The main highlight of the Go Negosyo forum was the presence of President GMA for the awarding of the Most Inspiring OFW Entrepreneurs.   I believe this is her way of giving importance to the inspiring awardees, who can also give hope to other aspiring OFW entrepreneurs.

While going up with her to the trade hall, she seemed to be upbeat despite a rigorous schedule and a lot of people in Market! Market! shook her hand and took pictures with her. Clearly she still has the respect and admiration of a lot of people despite what the polls say. The very warm reception of the President in the mall and inside the Go Negosyo expo shows the crowd’s support.  It was pretty obvious that a large number of people would simply want to move forward and be productive and progressive members of our society. It shows that democracy is alive in this country which is what is important.

Despite the tragedies that has struck our country particularly the super typhoons hitting Albay, Sorsogon and Cebu, the Filipino people continue to remain resilient, prayerful and continue to hope for the best. 

Our economy is definitely on the right track earlier this year.  I have mentioned to a private banker that the peso will break 50 during the Indian Chamber of Commerce meeting and right now we see the peso below 50.  That to me is the best way to measure the barometer of confidence.

The offerings of dollar bonds of Philippines have always been oversubscribed to ten times. Those who invested in real estate stock market 12 months ago indeed will be having a merry Christmas and those who will remain bullish and optimistic will have a fantastic 2007, with our without charter change.

By the time PGMA leaves office in 2010, we will be one of the most admired Asian countries. Not everyone will agree but those who will agree with this statement will most likely see their fortunes improve. As we have seen always in the past, those who are generally optimistic, those who see opportunities in every crisis, those who develop solutions to problems faced, are those who always succeed. 

Come to think of it, these are the common traits of all successful entrepreneurs we get to meet in this advocacy.  The biggest challenge is how to bring this mindset of optimism and culture of entrepreneurship down to the ordinary Filipino.  I believe we can, if we start with ourselves and share the advocacy to others.  

To everyone, a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of optimism and hope!

In behalf of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, I would like to thank the Go Negosyo advocates and volunteers who have allotted a few hours just to share valuable advice and present interesting business ideas to the public.  Those who willingly shared their time were Sonia Aquino of UP ISSI, Dean Danny Cabulay of FEU, Dr. Antonio Lopez of Miriam College, veteran entrep advocate Marlo Sanchez, Merle Alferez of MSA.  On the Agri-negosyo areas, we would also like to thank Danilo Fausto (cattle and dairy), Anthony Innocencio (chickens), Toto Barcelona of Harbest, Lolita Hizon of Pampanga’s Best., Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Richie Cuna (Fiorgelato), Ronald Pineda (Folded and Hung) and Johnlu Koa (French Baker). 

We also had different business concepts presented like that of Les Reyes (Reyes Haircutters), Richie Cuna (Fiorgelato), Ronald Pineda (Folded and Hung) and Johnlu Koa (French Baker). 

Mentors and advisers on the financing side were David Quianzon of SBGFC, Manny Guina (RBAP),  Alma Salamanca (NLSF), Jun Perez of (SEAD), Carolin Olfindo (Landbank), Ding Bagasao (ERCOF), Philip Hagedorn (Mutual Fund Company of the Phil), and the famous personal finance adviser Franciso Colayco.

Prof. Andy Ferreria also joined a one-on-one session to give advise on entrepreneurship and other alternative investments.  We also heard valuable inputs from entrep guru Prof. Quintin Tan, ESA’s Joel Santos and the very down-to-earth successful entrepreneur Sandy Javier of Andoks Chicken.  Victor Ablan, Sr. Bernadette Guzman and Dra. Aurita Roldan gave practical advice on the importance of self-development, family and doing something for the country.

We were happy to see the full support of expert moderators and popular hosts such as Cito Beltran, Rico Hizon, Angelique Lazo, Vicky Morales, Pia Archangel, Donita Rose, Anthony Pangilinan and Paolo Bediones (who are both successful entrepreneurs), RJ Ledesma, and Karen Davila. 

The Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) Go Negosyo area in the event was also set-up to serve as the mentoring area, where experienced and successful entrepreneurs and professionals shared their precious time and talent to be of help to any visitor that sought advice.  We witnessed in that area how the marketing guru Johnlu Koa of French Baker stayed long to mentor several budding entrepreneurs.  We also had the very supportive Richie Cuna of Fiorgelato and Tess Ngan-Tian of Lots-a-Pizza, Delby Bragais of North Road Fashion Group and PCE Trustees Roland Hortaleza of Splash and Harley Sy of the SM group, Victor Tan of Bobson Jeans, Paolo Tibig of Vintel Logistics, Bryan Tenorio of Tenorio Manila, Lin Deres of Goldilocks, Chit Juan of Figaro Coffee, Angie Resureccion of the Philippine CEFE Network and PCE’s Executive Director Mon Lopez.

It is very heartwarming to see the sincere efforts of these advocates in giving free advice to our kababayans, as their way to help them become successful entreps like them.

Again, I’d like to personally thank everyone who unselfishly devoted their time, considering it was also a weekend, to be of help to others.  You are what I consider also the new breed of heroes that also serve as inspiration and source of learnings for many Filipinos.