Women in Negosyo

Are women naturally born entrepreneurs? For us men, a “yes” would be hard to accept especially in cases when this statement becomes more of a fact than a fiction. Being an entrepreneur myself and seeing a lot of men who have been very successful in there own negosyo, I can affirm that this statement is indeed true.

Looking around the micro enterprises which contribute almost 90% to the Philippine economy, from the sari-saristores to laundry shops to eateries and the biyaheras, I’ve seen the negosyo run by female entrepreneurs.

According to the Central Bank’s report in June 2004, microfinance institutions with its 3.1 billion peso facilities assist micro enterprises, among which 90% of their funds are given to women.  Perhaps a reason behind this is the high rate of reported repayments when MFI’s lend to women.  I guess MFI’s favor women because they know how to budget and most of the earnings go back to the business.

What do women possess that makes them natural entrepreneurs? I guess women holding the cash of the househave an early training in practical budgeting which have been passed on from generation to generation. The best business schools have been enrolling women like my alma mater La Salle (oh, I also have to include Kevin Belmonte’s alma mater, Ateneo)

The University of Asia and the Pacific for sometime didn’t accept women into their entrepreneurship program because they felt that women have this skill already. But now they have shifted gears and did the opposite.  Vivienne Tan, who is one of the trustees of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, has decided to go on her own with her Entrepreneur School of Asia.

Vivienne has in her the creativity of her father Lucio Tan and has decided to help people to have their own business through her educational institution. Liza Gokongwei, daughter of John Gokongwei, is a very aggressive woman building one of the largest magazine collections in the country. She started Summit Media and is now known for famous magazines like Entrepreneur magazine. There is also Irene Martel-Francisco, publisher of high society magazine, Tatler Philippines.  In the same field, Sari Yap who founded Mega Magazine & Publications Inc. also started her business and invited investors to make it where it is today.

We all are familiar with the specialty foods we buy which come from women entrepreneurs. In fact, the popular weekend market in Salcedo is filled with women entrepreneurs and their signature dishes.  To mention a few, there are the Vargas known for their butter cakes, Dimpy Camera for her frozen brazo de mercedes, Chickee Banzon for her Pascale flavored ice tea, Maribel Van Hoven for her Dumaguete delicacy Budbud Kabog, Cely Kalaw for her bicol express and crabs with aligue, Michelle d’Orival for her French cuisine, Michelle Concepcion for her puto in various flavors and Michelle Santos who is famously known for her Ineng’s Special Barbecue.

As a matter of fact I have been telling my sister Michelle, who has her Putong Ube and Sana Banana, to resign from her job and focus on her entrepreneurial career.  But I guess she loves the perks working for Northwest. She’ll hate me for mentioning this. My other sister Celine has her preschool that caters to the expat community.  My other sisters Liza and Vina are beginner entreps, selling Karma outfits and are still part of the underground economy.

My good friend Harley Sy’s sister Tessie Coson who heads the Sy group has also the same successful path in business. Myla Villanueva, a geek entrepreneur who’s very rare to find, has done well with Meridian which makes the Smart Bro wireless internet running today. She sold the business for a good price.  There is also Chit Juan, owner of the famous Figaro coffee.  Chit is a very big supporter of Go Negosyo.  There is also cosmetic surgery expert Dr. Vicki Belo, a Go Negosyo fan who heads Belo Medical Group Inc.  And the list goes on and on.  So are we men now going to exchange roles making us take the back seat? Interesting question…

But I definitely believe women as natural entrepreneurs and I salute them!  We need more like you to move this country forward.

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Dear. Ms. Vivienne,

I’m chan miranda and I have a business concept ready to be launched…its called E-Apply. It is the first company in the world dedicated in creating education process solutions to be outsourced worldwide. We are now creating a website that could serve as an ultimate search engine in the world of education.

Aside from that, we have finalized our application and enrollment system that would be used by universities around the world. We have approached many universities and they have inclined to use our “one system for education”. I have everything in placed except funding…I would like to send you our complete business plan for your viewing.

I have shown this concept to some of the PCE people like Miss Imee Madarang and Sir Dickie and they all loved the idea. I hope we could work out something regarding our concept.

Dear Ms. Chan,

First let me congratulate you for taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Entrepreneurship is a path that many aspire for but never really pursue. You are already quite unique in that regard.

Secondly, I applaud you for converting your concept into a business plan-it is a key element in the entrepreneurial process. Your idea sounds very exciting given that we have barely touched the surface on technology applications for the education industry. The possibilities are actually limitless.

Moving forward, one of the key traits of successful entrepreneurs is the ability to “execute effectively.” Many have made a career out of “business plan making” and even win business plan competitions. Unfortunately, it stops there for most of them. They are not true entrepreneurs in my book.

Whenever my college students in the Entrepreneurs School of Asia (ESA) present their business plans to me I always need to be convinced of their execution strategy and the proof of their ability to execute.  This is something I hope I can be comfortable with when I read your business plan.

On the bright side, the angel investors and venture capitalists are active once again in the country and I could refer you to the network of investors that are linked to the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. However, these investors get hundreds of business plans a week and in the end, they decide to fund the person who they believe can convert their great concepts and ideas into reality.

I am really looking forward to reading your business plan. If your concept is really executable, then aside from funding referrals, I could connect you to the partner universities of  ESA in the UK, Australia, US, and China.  You can email me at [email protected]  Once again congratulations and good luck to all your endeavors.


Vivienne Tan
Executive Chairperson
Entrepreneurs School of Asia

(Vivienne Tan is the daughter of taipan Lucio Tan and co-founder of the Entrepreneurs School of Asia. She is also one of the trustees of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship.)

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Dear Ms. Villanueva,

Hi. I am Lui Joson and I am interested to set-up a website for a particular market segment, the opportunity of which I am very much aware.  However, I do not have any idea on how these websites can make money.  Is it from advertising, or from usage, etc.? Maybe you can link me to persons who have successfully done something similar to this. I am aware of a lot of websites that you just log-in for free and you get a lot of benefits without you paying for anything. In which case, how do those websites earn?

Thanks and I hope to have your response soonest

Dear Mr Joson,

I wish you could have given me more information regarding the particular market segment you are referring to serving in your website opportunity, for me to focus an answer.  Well, there are various models globally that enable free-use websites revenue streams, but it is always because of an underlying service, and also because of the scale at which these websites attract users. 

For instance, the most famous website portals, Google and Yahoo, uses its various services including search, e-mail, news, instant messaging, video and photo sharing, blogs and other free services, to attract millions of users around the world to enter its portals.  Since it has this loyal user base and traffic that is growing exponentially and daily, they then attract advertisers to pay every time a user clicks into an advertisement of a service as a result of a search.  Google and Yahoo then makes money primarily as a virtue of the actual clickstreams that an advertiser turns into a pageview of the advertisers own products and services site. 

There are also other models like my favorite iTunes, which has chosen to become primarily a media company.  iTunes sells videos and music downloads which you can load into your computers and of course listen to using the venerable iPod music player. 

Another category that is heating up is the area of user-generated content and social networking sites.  Portals like Friendster, Deviantart.com and YouTube pioneered in these areas, with the biggest of them all, MySpace, at 1 billion page views daily and accounting for 82% of the traffic in this category.  They do not sell anything yet (they have 20 new products in the pipeline which I am sure will have set revenue models), and grew literally by connecting friends, and their friends and their friends, who share common interests of example photos, music, gossip and well, allow for free and self-censored self-expression. 

Then, there is eBay, who sells anything anyone wants to sell, matching buyer and seller, building a global marketplace, and earning from commissions from the trade. EBay acquired the popular Skype from young entrepreneurs Niklas Zenstrom and Janus Friis for $ 2.6 Billion, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has this year acquired MySpace from young entreps Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe for $580 million, and of course, Google’s market cap is at its current trading price of $475 per share, makes it the third most valuable technology company in the US only behind Microsoft and Cisco and surpassing IBM. This values its founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s holdings at $14 Billion dollars each today. 

Businesses have become worth more to its entrepreneur founders when they were selling it for its potential, than during the business itself, and continue to grow value for themselves and their stock holdings as the market rewards its successes as a public company.

These enormous valuations are of course a result of the huge addressable markets globally, which the Internet allows, whose market cap potential may not necessarily be available to web entreps in the Philippines (YET!!) but we can glean some learnings:

Knowing very little about what you want to do, I would ask myself the following questions if I were to start a web business:

  1. What need, behavior, desire is your site trying to serve? Will users come back to your site?  What’s the X-factor that makes it different?
  2. How do I monetize these page views or clickstreams?  Meaning, while there are various payment options such as credit cards, mobile payments, how will you get paid for your products and services through your site? In the country, there are very little payment mechanisms viable, but maybe this is where the magic sauce can lie, if you can find a good and easy way to monetize your sites services.
  3. Will it build a community to generate enough traffic and scale for it to attract investors or advertisers? When I say community, I mean common interests, demographics, needs of users that create continued visits.  For example, some Philippine sites are developing themselves to cater to the most obvious target markets…overseas foreign workers, and building simple business models as sending gifts back home.  It is limited, but has potential to get aggregated into some other OFW related services in the future.

Hope these views help. 


(Myla Villanueva founded the mobile application development firm Wolfpac and broadband wireless provider Meridian, two companies acquired by Smart Communications, Inc.)