The Greater Good

I remember my first days as an entrepreneur. My first store was a novel cotton candy cart in Fiesta Carnival. My then-girlfriend (who is now my wife) helped me negotiate to get the space. The business was a simple idea that turned into a multimillion-peso business years after. I can still remember my excitement as I saw people line up to try a huge cotton candy. My parents’ house was the factory where we made the cotton candy mixes. Sacks of sugar filled my Dad’s office at our home. That was 32 years ago.

My son Christian and his cousin Michael also started a t-shirt venture a year ago. They called it Delivery One. It did not end up quite well. I told them that they should develop a retail brand if they want to, at least, have a chance to succeed. Having to outsource design and consign the shirts with other retail shops, nothing was left to keep as margins were all eaten up. Then, I told him to maybe just drop the idea and work for me.

Being a stubborn kid and wanting to pursue their passion, they eventually did come out with a unique business model, which was worth another shot. As parents, my brother John who runs Selecta and I decided to fund our kids’ business, as they were already bent over with making their business model work.

Greater Good is Christian’s and Michael’s new shop of unique t-shirts. In their tag, it states that they believe in cultivating awareness through fashion — addressing issues from animal rights to the environment to poverty and hunger. They want to use fashion as a vehicle for social awareness, promoting a change in mentality towards a deeper involvement and a shift in lifestyle — a movement towards the greater good.

As I witness the beginnings of the success of these two young Concepcions, I am reminded of my very own beginnings in that cotton candy store in Fiesta Carnival. It all starts when people believe in your idea – people like parents or, in my son’s case, even the people behind SM who gave them their first store in Mall of Asia.

For the past five years, Go Negosyo has evolved into a social enterprise. Entrepreneurship advocacy is also a model used by many successful entrepreneurs around the world who want to give back. Every successful story we hear gives us the joy to share it with others and to inspire more people. Same with every social enterprise, advocacy or movement out there, all our efforts are for the greater good.

Today, we see a new type of leadership unfold before our very own eyes. PNoy brings about a sense of renewal. There is indeed a chance for all of us to change for the better. This improved optimism by Filipinos has also been manifested in the survey reported the other day. But To love the Philippines is to be good citizens of the republic. For the greater good, all of us will have to embrace this change positively.

Let us observe a greater awareness of the environment we live in. Be aware of simple things like throwing trash in the proper places. Consider the Pasig River and giving people a chance for a decent home without flood. Let’s be aware of a problem or area for improvement in our communities because those can possibly lead to a negosyo opportunity that can also be profitable, while helping improve lives of others. Use waste materials as raw materials for a negosyo or put up a business that gives livelihood to a community. These are just some examples of social enterprises, which we in Go Negosyo are now promoting – a business model with social dimension.

Dreams can come true. To those who have realized and achieved their dream, it’s about time to help others realize and reach their dream as well.

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Let me continue to share with you what other fellow negosyantes think about PNoy’s SONA.

“The intramurals of elections are over. It’s time to close ranks once again for the advancement of Team Philippines. I listened to PNOY’s speech with an open mind. It became clear to me that the cornerstone of his presidency will be the fight against corruption. Well and good. Citing the abuses within the NFA, Napocor, MWSS and DPWH was meant to give the people a real grasp of how bad the situation is. I wish him well and hope he succeeds in leaving us the legacy of a reformed government. If there is anyone with the moral ascendancy to pull it off, he does.” –Andrew Masigan

“I like how he delivered his message. First, he spoke in Filipino to make it easily understood by every Filipino, especially the masses. Second, it was responsive to our needs as entrepreneurs as well as the poor. He mentioned issues about business licensing and the good of small and medium enterprises particularly getting rid of red tape and providing level playing field. Third, he spoke of the Mindanao problem and challenged for engagement the CPP-NPA to attain peace. Fourth, Pnoy is right. This time, I feel that it’s possible to dream for a better Philippines.” –Bai Sandra Basar of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Business Council

“The speech inspired hope and belief that a better future is waiting for us if we all work together and do our part as responsible citizens.” –Cathy Turvill of Nurture Spa

“The country has waited for the longest time for a President who would uplift the confidence of the citizenry. President Pnoy’s SONA, I would say, was indeed a sign of hope and a new beginning for the Filipino people. We entrepreneurs are positive that Pres. Pnoy will bring back the integrity and dignity for the business sector.” –Richie Cuna of Fiorgelato

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Go Negosyo is once again launching today the annual Teenegosyo, together with the DepEd led by project initiator Director Joey Pelaez, DTI- Phil. Trade Training Center and the The Masters Lighthouse Foundation of Anthony Pangilinan. The Teenegosyo aims to develop an enterprising mindset among the students from all parts of the country and their teacher mentors, while teaching and exposing them through the various forums, lectures and workshops on the various topics on entrepreneurship. Over 1,000 participants are joining the 5-day Teenegosyo that will be held in Teacher’s Camp, Baguio.