The Go Negosyo Superstars

Last Friday, March 16, Go Negosyo had the largest book signing ever at the National Bookstore in SM Megamall. Together with President GMA, twenty entrepreneurs featured in the Go Negosyo Book of 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial stories graced the event. The place was plastered with a green backdrop saying “Kaya Mo, Go Negosyo” which was the theme of the media campaign that we also launched that afternoon. It was thru the efforts of MSME czar Cerge Remonde and of course the excellent track record that Go Negosyo has attained in just over a year that PGMA went out of her way despite security concerns. The President was greeted warmly by the people in the mall and of course by the National Bookstore employees of Nanay Coring who all loved her so much. Per SM management, National Bookstore has never had a major event like this that they gave this event their full support. In just one month, PGMA has visited two of the Sy’s malls because of Go Negosyo. But what made this event so great were the entrepreneurs like Nanay Coring, Julie Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop, Paolo Bediones and Ray Gapuz who came in as early as 4pm to start signing books, patiently talking to the people who took pictures and asked questions. It was truly a first time experience for many of the entreps and all were mutually inspired, those having the books signed and we entreps who signed the books. The people who attended the book signing got the chance to personally meet the brightest stars in the entrepreneurship community. They got the chance to have the autographs of the top guy of GMA7 Atty. Felipe Gozon, Nanay Coring of National of Bookstore, Julie Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop and celebrity entrep Paolo Bediones who is probably used to people asking for his autograph and photo ops. There was also Donnie Tantoco of Shopwise representing the Tantoco family, Santi Araneta of LBC who felt like he was an upcoming celebrity, maybe he could pass for a GMA 7 talent. There was also Doy Vea who is the founder of Smart Communications, Bill Torres of Mozcom, the first internet portal and the famous marketer/CEO Cecilio Pedro of Happee Toothpaste/Lamoiyan Corporation. Creative entrep Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs just flew in for this event and flew back for his son’s birthday which only shows he is really passionate in helping negosyantes. Beauties and brains Myla Villanueva, Vivienne Tan, Gaita Fores were the muses of Go Negosyo and Gov. Lray Villafuerte, Illac Diaz, Les Reyes and Roland Pineda could definitely qualify as the male models. Charismatic Rey Gapuz was also there and whose review center despite all the accusations against him grew three-fold. Eight out of ten who topped the most recent nursing exam came from his review center.

Close to one thousand books were sold and signed that day and PCE’s Executive Director Mon Lopez was telling everyone that their autograph signing might remind them of their grade school days when they were asked to write the same thing over and over. It was quite a tiring experience but the fulfillment of doing this effort and inspiring people was unquantifiable. PGMA even signed twenty books and those who were fortunate to get her signature now own books that have probably tripled in value. Imagine if you can get all the 50 entreps to sign your P280 book, it can be a negosyo, people will buy them for more than 1,000 pesos and that’s tripling your money.

Aside from the book signing, we also presented to the President the Go Negosyo media campaign on “Teaching a nation how to fish, feeding the nation for many lifetimes” which is a series of TV commercials showing how microentrepreneurs were able to demystify the common misperceptions on starting and becoming successful in business. The commercials will be aired on TV and we will also be coming out with versions for radio and print in the coming weeks. We will also have a hotline for those who need help in setting a negosyo and there will be two hotlines to call, one is DTI’s hotline (751-3330) and one will be PCE’s (637-9229). This is the start of the integration of all government efforts in helping aspiring negosyantes. PGMA with Cerge Remonde as MSME czar is taking a hands-on approach in seeing through the seamless flow of tying up with all government agencies in helping negosyantes come under the banner of Go Negosyo. This in the end pushes for everyone, even those in government, to be entrepreneurial in attitude as well and act as mentors to the start up entrepreneurs. It is not an easy task but it can be done and it will be done with government and private sector partnership.

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I was one of the judges in the recently held HSBC Young Entrepreneurs business plan competition. I have been a judge to so many competitions like this and learned that there is a need for organizers to make the objectives/rules clearer so that the schools will know the parameters on how they should participate. We recently had a consultative meeting with the organizations involved in business plan competitions. Attendees included HSBC Head Mark Watkinson, Cat Manese who is in charge of HSBC’s Public Affairs for business plans, Vivienne Tan and Joel Santos of Entrepreneurs School of Asia, PLDT’s Anthony Pangilinan, biotech expert Maoi Arroyo who is also the representative for the Philippine Emerging Start-up Open (PESO) business plan competition , Ateneo Management School Dean Rudy Ang, Onor Dimapilis of DLSU’s Business Management and Entrepreneurship Educators’ Association of the Philippines (ENEDA), Anton Diaz and Lex Adsa of JC International who also have their yearly Best Business Plan competition, PCE’s Imee Madarang, Mon Lopez and staff. During the meeting, we arrived at a consensus to enhance the consciousness of the organizers, participants and judges with respect to clarifying the primary objectives of each of the competition. It is not our intention to standardize nor regulate but just to clearly identify the basic intent of these competitions. Should it award the one with the most innovative/creative business idea or new business model (and therefore, the participant as originator is key)? Or should we give more weight to the writing and presentation of the business plan and consider the plan that will lead to a more sustainable and profitable operation? Or should we recognize plans anchored on new technologies, leading to a sustainable business model? In the end, setting clearer objectives will help specify better parameters/criteria; the weights and even how the competition should be called. Perhaps it would be even better if we categorize business plan competitions according to these objectives and find specific entries for each. Attendees should also acknowledge the importance of Intellectual Property Rights and participants should disclose if the idea originated from them or they started the concept and just commissioned a group for the technical study or if they bought/borrowed an idea for a fee. There must be greater consciousness on these arrangements as these are important considerations in the real world of entrepreneurship.