Teaching a Nation How to Fish

On February 5, Go Negosyo will launch its program for 2007 with the main theme “Teach a nation how to fish and we will feed a nation for many lifetimes”. It has been a month now since my meeting with PGMA and Secretary Cerge Remonde and things have started to move and the alignment of one advocacy to help micro, small and medium enterprises will be implemented thru Go Negosyo which will now be a partnership between the private sector and Philippines Inc (government).

Over the past week, this column has focused on entrepreneurship in government, from the CEO who is our President, to the Secretaries, Departments and agencies’ officials and the local government officials. We have a Philippines Inc. creating an enterprising culture.

We have to think positive, work on it, give it a chance and believe this model of a focused advocacy will work, where all government agencies, entrepreneurs and the academe serve as the support ecosystem that helps and promotes entrepreneurship.

“Teaching a nation how to fish” cannot be accomplished just by the private sector alone. It must be supported by the different government agencies which are part of Philippines Inc. from the Department of Trade and Industry where the first assistance of business registration starts, to other agencies’ training centers, design centers, trade expositions and marketing, to the Department of Agriculture for agribusiness assistance centers, Small Business Corporation, government banks and financial institutions and their affiliate-micro finance institutions and many more.

Just imagine if all of these can be integrated under a more unified Go Negosyo campaign to have a more effective and responsive support eco-system for entrepreneurs. Thus, anyone wanting to go into business can quickly identify Go Negosyo assistance programs provided by several government agencies who will also be their partners in business.

We are now also working in developing a one-number hotline that will enable anyone to have quick access to any business assistance and mentorship that will be needed from both government and non-government groups.  

The role of private sector is to continue to help in the “big brother- small brother” approach in developing business models for small entrepreneurs. For example, we now see PLDT/Smart, Globe, Bayantel and Microsoft, HP, Intel, Mozcom creating negosyo bundles on the internet, cell cards and eventually tawag centers using VOIP thru cell phones. But it’s not just telcos who are creating negosyo bundles, companies like Hyundai with their Pro-negosyo Starex vans, San Miguel Corporation, Unilever and food cart associations like the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) and the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) are also promoting business tools, franchise and distribution business models.

There are also the subcontracting of agri farm products following the poultry business model in new crops, the use of getropa or tuba-tuba as a primary source of ethanol for biofuel, new ways of urban farming and more profitable backyard-type poultry and livestock business ventures. There are so many business models still out there that we can provide to the small entreps. More importantly, aspiring entrepreneurs with new and unique business ideas can also seek advice from our mentors on how they can safely turn their plans into reality.

While it is true that the economic boom is happening, it is for those who want to take part of it. You just can’t be a citizen of the Philippines and do nothing and expect that if we see a Philippine economic boom, you will instantly get rich…no way my friend, you have to do something! Either invest or start a business. For those successful in business it’s time we follow the big brother approach so the small would- be entrepreneurs will have a chance to succeed and also partake in the economic boom of this country.

Maybe the Sy’s, Ayala’s, Gaisano’s and the Gokongwei’s who control the largest retail concepts in the country can allocate some space to new brands as incubation centers. In a way this is being done already but maybe a more conscious effort will give chance to the rise of more entrepreneurs. Former President Cory Aquino herself has now taken notice that for this country to move forward and improve the economic standard of the poor, there is a need to support and accelerate the pace of microlending.

So we all need to enhance financing, much as we need to develop and offer new business ideas to differentiate from current business models and not just have a “me too” type of business. This is where we hope Go Negosyo thru its vision of “teaching a nation how to fish…” will contribute by getting the big brother mentorship going and the government playing the role also of a father teaching his son how to fish.

I pray that the Go Negosyo advocacy will inspire people to get into business and those who have been successful should in return help others. Thru this process, we hope to see a more vibrant and more prosperous entrepreneurial nation.