Angels in Action

In one of the Apple stores in California, I, with the help of my daughter’s charm, was lucky to be among those who were able to purchase one of the hottest gadgets today – the new Apple ipad. This unbelievable machine will change how computers will be used and how we communicate. With 3G capability, you can do almost anything with it.

I rented a movie and watched it on a flight using my ipad. ‘The Blind Side’ has been in theaters early this year. I guess I missed it. I normally catch up when I am on vacation mode with my kids here in the states. This movie inspired me.

For those who have not yet seen the movie, it is a true story on Michael Oher. It showed a point in his life when he was hopeless. He is an African-American who went to a private school. He had no parents to mentor him, no family and no home. The Touhy family took him in and eventually became his legal guardian. You can only imagine having a traumatized child, coming from a different background and exposed to things you would not want your kids to see. Yet, the Touhy family showered him with love and mentored him. They even hired a private tutor so he will make it in school. Eventually, he became a football superstar in college and now in the NFL.

How does this story relate to our Philippine setting? We have thousands of microentreprenuers who are below the poverty line. Many of them are women, trying hard to succeed so that their children will be able to get a better education. While some parents become overseas workers, others have decided to set up a small negosyo. But, many of them still lack mentorship. They need the encouragement and knowhow to continue despite the challenges they face daily, like family problems, cash problems, among others.

Michael Oher would not have made it, if not for the family who adopted him and the active mentorship of his foster mother who served as his angel. Our microentrepreneurs do not need to be adopted or housed. But, they definitely need an active mentorship to help them succeed. While micro finance institutions are able to provide some form of mentorship because of the microlending facilities, this may not be enough. We need a more comprehensive understanding of the psyche of successful negosyantes, how they think, what their attitude and visions are, and how they overcome adversities and focus on growing the business.

Let me share with you what Go Negosyo is trying to do with our partners in government like the Department of Trade and Industry, who is on the ground and exposed to micro and small entrepreneurs.

I asked Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship Executive Director Ramon Lopez to share how he has seen certain “angels” in action.

“The Go Negosyo forums and seminars we do around the country allow us to interface with as many Filipinos as possible, up to the community-level. Our forums have reached out to over one million participants and our recent run of more intensive Negosems (Negosyo Seminars) with DTI are hitting around 10 thousand participants, with four more Negosems to go. This week alone, we are doing three from Valenzuela City to Cagayan de Oro and Butuan and two more next week – General Santos and Pasig, Metro Manila. We teach the need to have positive and enterprising attitude in life, followed by a series of presentations on key concepts on starting and growing a Negosyo such as spotting and seizing opportunities, learning the basics of product development, marketing and financial literacy. In these sessions, we are able to interact with and mentor our hopeful microentrepreneurs and those about to embark on this journey. One can feel the need to do more of these empowering seminars as can be seen from the participants’ enthusiasm and very relevant questions they raise. They all stay through from 8:30 am to 7pm, listening and writing down notes. They are hungry to learn and this is a good indication that the attitude of openness and willingness to learn is still there, even with the many participants who I would guess are over 50 years of age. The smiles on their faces after the seminar and the good feedback inspire everyone in our group as well to continue with the rigorous schedule. The feeling is different when we are able to reach out to the micro entrepreneurs and the marginalized sectors like the out-of-school youth and women cooperatives. With over 90 % of Filipinos not finishing college, non-traditional entrep education, like NEGOSEMS, now becomes a GREAT EQUALIZER for everyone to have a greater chance to succeed in life.”

We are fortunate to have many more entrepreneur advocates or lead lecturers in our seminars, whom we refer to as Angelpreneurs. We are happy that aside from Dean Pax Lapid, mindset guru Ping Sotto, franchising expert Butch Bartolome, entrep guru Jay Bernardo, Go Negosyo advocates Johnlu Koa, Mylene Abiva, Nonoy Espeleta, Paulo Tibig, Jorge Wieneke, Benel Lagua, Tess Dimaculangan, Randell Tiongson, we are joined by other powerful motivators like Cito Beltran, Francis Kong, Anthony Pangilinan, Ardy Roberto, Ed Pilapil, Carlo Calimon, Glen Baticados, Topax Colayco, Armand Bengco and many more. We have shared their views in previous columns and now we would like to share the views of other strong advocates and entrep-educators on why they have joined us in our cause.

Entrepreneurship professor Luis Cruz considers helping actual and prospective entrepreneurs through the Negosems as his own little way of sharing with society his God-given talent to teach. “Spreading the gospel of entrepreneurship is my little contribution towards nation-building. After all, I truly believe that the way to move this country forward is through the development of an entrepreneurial middle-class,” Luis shares.

One of the most active Angelpreneurs in our Negosems is Punla sa Tao Foundation Executive Director Reuel Virtucio. He believes that Go Negosyo’s advocacy of awakening the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos is fully aligned with his personal mission. “Having been involved in entrepreneurial education for the past 15 years, I have seen firsthand the power of entrepreneurship in liberating people from the clutches of poverty. There has never been any other program before Go Negosyo that has been as successful in firing up the entrepreneurial spirit in our country,” says Reuel.

Go Negosyo somehow serves as a good venue for many entrepreneurs and mentors to help others. It is purely voluntary, as there is no formal membership system. No nationwide chapters, nor elaborate regional structures. Anyone can help and be a mentor to others through our forums and summits, seminars, TV shows, through our book, website. In the end, the advocacy is all about sharing and caring for others.

Actually, fulfillment in life comes when you start thinking of others. I guess that is why this advocacy has been gaining ground in the last four and half years. It allows anyone to be involved, to share his time, talent and treasures, so that others can find hope and reach their dreams.