A Brand in People’s Mind

Last week I talked about women in negosyo citing that 90 percent of micro finance lending institutions lend to women. As I immersed myself more in an entrepreneurial advocacy, I find this to be quite true.

I was invited by Citigroup country officer Sanjiv Vohra to judge in a Citibank Micro-entrepreneur of the Year Award. What surprised me was the fact that most of the nominees were women. My fellow judges Tessie Sy-Coson, Marixi Rufino-Prieto, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Lance Gokongwei, Dr. Mario Lamberte and Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr., were just as surprised as I was.

Indeed in a short time, GoNegosyo has developed itself as a brand, or better yet as a battlecry, that we hope will subliminally inspire and call the Filipinos to action.

A lot of women during the early days of putting this up together have helped me in the process. Anna Periquet, daughter of “Mr. PCCI”, Aurelio Periquet Jr., is a strong supporter who helped me build the network. She is an entrepreneur, too. SME queen Mel Alonzo of the Department of Trade has been there as well. At first, she thought that this advocacy would duplicate her job, but I told her my role is to focus on changing the mindset and foster a culture of entrepreneurial optimism among the Filipinos, and to complement the various SME programs and projects that DTI has been doing well. There was also Imee Madarang, who linked us with the entrepreneurship educators led by Dean Danny Cabulay of FEU.  Imee worked hard towards our very first initiative in launching GoNegosyo at the Every Nation Hall in Fort Bonifacio.

The launch was so successful that it even caused us a problem.  The management of the venue, Every Nation Hall, had to close the doors because more than 2,000 people had already filled up the auditorium. There were long lines of people outside just waiting to listen to the prominent entrepreneurs’ speeches. I was amazed and overwhelmed to see the hunger of so many people and even teachers from various parts of the country who wanted to learn and be inspired.

That was then I knew GoNegosyo was off to a good start.

The next day before the opening of the expo at Market! Market! I got a call from Anna Periquet saying that there could be a coup. I called Arthur Yap and he confirmed there was a problem. It was all over the radio.

Wow! What a disaster! We had a 6,000 sq meter-trade hall filled with booths with exciting business ideas and a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs waiting for opening at 10am! But we had to push through. We had to walk our talk and precisely to drive home our point for our kababayans to stop with the unproductive pre-occupation of watching the political telenovela and instead focus their energies into productive and positive undertakings like getting into business, just like what people in more progressive countries do! 

So on that day, all three invited senators showed up: Senators Mar Roxas, Manny Villar and Kiko Pangilinan. Also present during the ribbon cutting were Mayors Tinga and Capco and BPI President Gigi Montinola.

Still, thousands of people flocked to join the opening of the expo, unperturbed by the coup attempt happening in the same area.  This showed the strong interest of many people to look for business opportunities.  But we still need to work on the mindset of the majority to have a more optimistic attitude and be more productive members of our society.

Amidst the height of the coup attempt, we got the President to come for the second time with the help of Sec. Yap.  Her first day out of Malacañang since the coup attempt was to go to the GoNegosyo event. I admired her for the courage she showed.  Despite the advice from her security group not to go, she still did.

From this historic event, GoNegosyo continued to make its name on top of people’s minds in terms of mentorship and business inspirations.

We have already done several forums and exhibits to realize our thrusts. We’ve had Micronegosyo expo in March which showed small businesses people can get into. The event was held in the Army Gym with once again an overwhelming full-packed venue. PGMA attended and even led the discussion in one of the forums, a dialogue with micro- entrepreneurs.

From there, a GoNegosyo teen edition followed in Baguio City in July where over 2,000 students attended. This is in partnership with DepEd with its Executive Director Joey Pelaez rallying the students. Then GoNegosyo started to go to different cities like in Marikina.

The next big gathering was the successful TechnoNegosyo in September with Myla Villanueva as co-chair of the event. This was an attempt to help Filipinos look at technology business models out there like internet cafés, web design, computer electronics, distributorship and services.

It became very clear that we need to help Filipinos improve their business models since the country is far behind in creating technology entrepreneurs. So, together with our major supporters who have a very keen interest in building the ecosystem for technopreneurs, we believe that good things are possible if only we think positively. Most of our partners are led by La Salle graduates, but I guarantee you it was unintentional.  TechnoNegosyopartners included TJ Javier of Microsoft, the super supportive Butch Jimenez of PLDT/Smart, Gerry Ablaza of Globe, Nilo Cruz of HP, Myla Villanueva, the pretty inventor of the system that runs Smart Bro, Ricky Banaag of Intel, Jajo Quintos of IBM,  and DOST Secretary Alabastro.

This group will continue to work together to see how we can improve and encourage more business in technology. A finding from our research which will be released next year will show that science and technology needs more support than any other area.

Recently we also started to work with Gawad Kalinga where we hope to partner with them in supporting the productivity side of their community development.

There are also organizations who show their support by giving due recognition to people who have succeeded in business.  There’s SGV Foundation with their Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines Awards and Citigroup’s Microentrepreneur of the Year Awards. There is also the Young Entrepreneurs Organization Awards and Liza Gokongwei’s Entrepreneurship magazine’s Ten Inspiring Small and Medium Entrepreneur Awards. There are also other private organizations which we are partnering with as we share the same entrepreneurship advocacy. 

HSBC’s CEO Warner Manning has his entrep caravan and business plan competitions, there’s also Butch Francisco who constantly promotes entrepreneurship thru his Rotary projects. In the end it’s the big corporations that must embrace the GoNegosyo mission of the “big brother-small brother” approach, developing business models and partnering/nurturing small entrepreneurs.

It’s only been a year yet we believe we have achieved something for the benefit of the country. So as 2006 meets its offing, we want to leave with one final salvo that may change how our overseas Filipino workers and balikbayanslive their lives. This December, we will have Go Negosyo Para sa OFWs at Balikbayans. Let’s bear in mind that these people are, in a way, our angel investors and we must help them invest their money wisely.

To those who have helped us and inspired us, like Nanay Coring of National Bookstore, truly my inspiration, thank you and together let’s all build the GoNegosyo advocacy that will once and for all change the negative mindset of Filipinos to something positive that will lead them to take action now and start putting their destinies into their own hands. We adhere to a strong belief that: If you can teach a nation to fish, you feed a nation for many lifetimes.  This is the mission statement of GoNegosyo.

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Hello Sir, magandang araw po sa iyo.  Ako po ay isang estudyante. I am planning to have a business but I have only a 60,000 capital. My ate has a friend from Korea and he already came to the Philippines to talk about the business. He doesn’t have an idea about the market here in Philippines, that’s why he asked me and my sister to find a great business and he will be the one to finance us. But we don’t know what business to recommend.  I hope you can help us sir.  Thank you very much and god bless


Dr. Hortaleza writes:

Hi Jay-ar! Thanks for writing!
It’s good to know that more and more Filipinos are considering starting up their own businesses.  By your interest, it means that the entrepreneurship fervor is slowly but surely engulfing through the minds of our people, especially to our youth.

In considering to launch a new business, (1) Check whether you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.  Determination coupled with a strong sense of ambition and a generous amount of self-belief are just a few of the traits you need to start up your business.  (2) Be innovative – offer something new and different, it will definitely be a big advantage if you are not just a “me-too”. (3) Many entrepreneurs start businesses based on their hobbies(if you like reading, you may try to open a bookstore cum coffeeshop) or  particular skills (computer programming – you might go for website development or computer rentals ala internet café). With your start-up capital of P60,000, you may opt for a small venture, with only family members/close friends to help you out. 

At least, you can negotiate for a later pay with them when your business hits off the grounds.
Ultimately, there are no hard and fast rules.  The success of any business largely depends on the character of the person behind it.  In your case, as you start young, you have plenty of time to discover what will work for you.  Just bear in mind to enjoy your business, you’ll be surprised the financial rewards will come sooner.

Happy Business Hunting!

Rolando B. Hortaleza, M.D.
Chairman and CEO
Splash Group of Companies

(Dr. Rolando Hortaleza is Chairman and CEO of Splash Group of Companies. Splash is the only wholly owned Filipino company among the top 10 companies in the Philippine cosmetics and toiletries industry.)

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Dear Usec. Alonzo,

I am a Filipino American (but do not still possess dual citizenship) who would like to start a business in the Philippines perhaps in the service sector. Are there any restrictions and/or limitations that I should know of? I am planning to start a garage repair shop for high performance cars at the same time conduct a buy and sell operation for auto parts.

Can you also recommend where I should start and where to procure the needed equipments/tools and skilled labor to do the job. What kind of capital is needed? Do I have to have a business plan even if I will finance the operation with my own funds?”


Dear Ed,

We sought the assistance of the Board of Investments for the appropriate reply. The central law applying to foreign investments is the Foreign Investments Act of 1991, which established the framework for the government’s policy on foreign investments. With the liberalization of the foreign investments law, 100% foreign equity may be allowed in all areas of investments except financial institutions and those included in the sixth regular Foreign Investments Negative List which took effect on November 24, 2004. 

Since your products or services will be geared to the domestic market, the paid up capital requirement if it will be 100% foreign owned is US$ 200,000. The buy and sell operation must be done on a wholesale basis. 

As to your request where you can procure the needed equipment and skilled labor for your business, please contact the Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing Association of the Philippines. You can also visit their website atwww.mvmap.com. Tesda has the list of skilled graduates who can do the job.

Should you still need further clarification, please contact our One Stop Action Center (OSAC) of the Board of Investments at telephone number  (632)-897-6682. 

Very truly yours, 

Small and Medium Enterprises Development

(Usec. Mel Alonzo is Chair and CEO of the Small Business Guarantee and Finance Corporation. SB Corporation is the DTI-attached government financial institution which provides credit guarantee and financing to the small and medium enterprises.)