Thursday, September 30, 2010

Entrepreneurial diplomacy

Entrepreneurial diplomacy
Business World Online
September 30, 2010

Junie S. Del Mundo
Chief Executive Officer

In communications, the way one packages a message is often as important as the content of the message itself. In a rapidly digitizing and intensely sensory world, people are bombarded with thousands of messages each day, making it even more challenging to ensure that messages are transmitted with unequivocal precision. Particularly in sectors such as business or politics, misunderstandings can have extensive repercussions. This is the world of professional communicators like Teodoro "Junie" S. Del Mundo, CEO of EON.

Educated in the Philippines, the United States and France, Mr. Del Mundo spent 13 years of his professional life strengthening ties between countries. He built a career in foreign service with postings in the Philippine embassies in Paris, France and Dakar, Senegal and at the Philippine Mission for UNESCO in Paris. After deciding to return home for good in 1995, Mr. Del Mundo felt a burning need to explore other avenues for his career and future. Serendipitously, he was asked to help organize the 1996 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Manila. Gaining much knowledge and confidence from this experience, he followed his instincts and entrepreneurial spirit, making the jump from government service to the private sector. He founded EON in 1998 and focused on events organizing.

His past experience in facilitating communications and bridging ideas proved invaluable in helping him build trust and cooperation -- this time among clients, media, investors, businesses, and government and nongovernment organizations.

Happy with EON’s events management services, Mr. Del Mundo’s clients also requested him to handle their publicity requirements. This opened up a new avenue of opportunity, enabling EON to evolve into a full-service communications agency. EON’s services expanded to include public relations, corporate communications and stakeholder relations. The company also affiliated itself with Edelman, one of the world’s largest global public relations network.

A defining service that EON provides to its clients is stakeholder relations, which involves building trust-based relationships between an organization and its stakeholders such as media, the government and business entities. "Different stakeholders will necessarily have different issues and concerns. We need to internalize the unique needs of each stakeholder, then tailor tightly focused strategies for each group. Using a broad-based communications platform just won’t work," Mr. Del Mundo explains.

EON is a forerunner in rendering this innovative and personalized communications model. To help others understand stakeholder relations, Mr. Del Mundo illustrates it with the work done recently for a client. "We managed a corporate social responsibility project for one of our clients, a global oil and gas company with drilling operations in the Sulu Sea. They wanted to do something for the town closest to their operations, so they initiated a water pumping project. To make this work, not only did we need to raise awareness of community’s very pressing needs for potable water, we also needed government and media groups to buy in and support the whole thing."

In addition to developing an effective community profile for their client, EON also facilitated dialogues with media and government groups, including arranging for these concerned groups to see the situation for themselves.

Over the years, EON’s client base has grown to include both local and regional companies, 95% of which are multinational corporations. EON has done projects in Uzbekistan, Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Del Mundo hopes to win more regional projects within the next five years. The firm has been accredited by the Asian Development Bank and is the only Filipino agency with a specialization in Central Asia. He intends for EON to be a regional player using the Philippines as a hub, believing in the creativity, ability and resourcefulness of Filipino professionals. He draws encouragement from the success of projects such as one done in Uzbekistan, where all online requirements were done out of the Philippines.

Recognizing the huge potential and growing importance of the online landscape, Mr. Del Mundo created a separate company called Tangerine in July 2010. This spin-off company will offer web content development and design, blogging research and Web site-related interaction.

In an industry that relies hugely on talent and aptitude, quality people will always be a professional services company’s greatest asset. Mr. Del Mundo expects his people to differentiate themselves from competition in terms of professionalism, immediacy and quality of response, speed in delivery, and intelligence. To ensure that EON can deliver consistent high-quality work to meet the specialized requirements of its clients, he also focused on building a strong and experienced management team to guide and mentor the young and enthusiastic staff. From 36 people in 2009, the company has now grown to 60 employees in 2010.

One of EON’s core values is joy. Mr. Del Mundo constantly works to promote a happy, friendly, light and interactive culture within the company. He is involved with Hands On Manila and the League of Corporate Foundations and encourages his employees to fully embrace the ideal of personal and corporate social responsibility. With his staff members, they support 10 scholars under World Vision by contributing through voluntary salary deduction.

While he may have left the foreign service and has found his niche in entrepreneurship, Mr. Del Mundo remains a diplomat at heart. "I still get to apply my people-relation skills because we do a lot of business with local and foreign governments. And really, if you think about it, our job is to act as envoys for companies and organizations. I’m really still building bridges and connecting ideas between people," he muses.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on October 12, 2010 at a banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The branding of non-brands

The branding of non-brands
Business World Online
September 29, 2010

Benjamin I. Liuson
The Generics Pharmacy Franchising Corp.

For a country where medical treatment is both prohibitively expensive and sadly insufficient, the concept of generic medicine is a godsend. With little government subsidy on health, Filipino families are hard-pressed to provide for their family’s needs. According to latest data, Filipino families spent an estimated P127.3 billion on healthcare in 2007, 54.3% of the Philippines’ total health expenditure.

The Generics Pharmacy, under the leadership of Benjamin I. Liuson, is doing its best to help society and the pharmaceutical industry by carrying only generic medicines. The company traces its roots back to Pacific Insular Co., a German wholesaler and importer of medicine in 1949. In 1960, Mr. Liuson’s parents bought the firm, which he joined in 1970. He eventually took over in 1974 when his father passed away.

Under Mr. Liuson’s guidance, the company started implementing innovative marketing strategies in 1983. Seeing how the average consumer struggled to make ends meet, they lowered their gross margin to around 30% from the usual 400%. To save on costs, they also did not give out samples and did not employ an agent. Instead, they sold directly to doctors and hospitals. After the Generics Act of 1988 was implemented, the firm established DLI Generics, to serve the needs of government hospitals.

In 1996, doctors from the Philippine General Hospital started referring their patients to the DLI Generics’ office in Quezon City. Mr. Liuson recalls that they had to turn the patients away since the company was a wholesaler and therefore not allowed to sell products to them. This inspired him to open the Philippines’ first generics-only retail store, DLI Pharmacy, in 2001. To set it apart, they focused on selling generic medicines exclusively. They also carry only one generic product for every type of medication. "When a consumer is in a rush to buy medicine, the last thing they need is to get confused by too many brands or chemical names. It also makes inventory-keeping simpler and more efficient," he explains.

The drugstore started to gain acceptance and in 2006, regular customers complained that the lone branch in Quezon City was not accessible to provincial residents. With this, Mr. Liuson re-branded DLI Generics into The Generics Pharmacy in July 2007. They also began franchising outlets through The Generics Pharmacy Franchising Corp.

To help jumpstart the franchise stores, Mr. Liuson had all stocks in the stores on consignment. Having been in the pharmaceutical business for 50 years, he was confident that they understood the needs of their market. Second, as a concession to the first 100 outlets, the company offered to refund the franchising fee should the franchisees opt out for any reason in the first three years.

"We might have been in hot water had it not clicked," Mr. Liuson muses. The strategies seem to be working because the firm now counts over 300 franchisees nationwide. To date, The Generics Pharmacy has 900 franchise stores, only one of which is company-owned. "With only one company store, our franchisees trust us more because they know that we’re not competing with them ourselves," Mr. Liuson says.

Because it only sells generics, the firm can set its own retail price for all its products for the franchisees to follow. It encourages franchisees to put up outlets in areas with heavy foot traffic, even if there are already big drugstores in the vicinity. "Being near a big drugstore is one of my key success criteria. Consumers can more easily compare products. In the end, the public wins," he says.

Over the next three years, the company plans to open 450 more stores. By December 2013, it expects to have a network of 1,500 pharmacies. Mr. Liuson says that they are also considering opening outlets in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam and the United States.

The company also plans to introduce more products. In the pipeline are dermatological, cosmetic and antiseptic products, as well as medical supplies.

Mr. Liuson believes in the value of building long-term trust and partnership relationships with franchisees, suppliers and retailers. "We work closely with those who share our goals," he relates, "An example is one supplier who, despite objections from a huge competing drugstore chain, chose to continue working with us because their CEO shared our vision of providing the public with affordable and effective medicine." The Generics Pharmacy would eventually become the supplier’s biggest local client.

Besides sound business relationships, Mr. Liuson emphasizes the importance of quality, affordability, accessibility, communication, God’s help and social responsibility to maintain his company’s growth. A deeply religious man, Mr. Liuson acknowledges God’s help in all his achievements. That is why, aside from the usual corporate social responsibility projects, the firm is also involved in what he calls "corporate spiritual responsibility." For three years now, the company sponsors the printing of 200,000 Bibles annually through the Philippine Bible Society. Free copies are distributed with the aim of having one Bible in every home in the country. Copies are also sent to the country’s top corporations.

Reflecting on the company’s success, Mr. Liuson shares that he received the best comment from a franchisee -- that Generics Pharmacy was heaven-sent. This affirmation of how much the company helps people provides powerful motivation to work even harder. "The more people you help, the more successful you are," Mr. Liuson says.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Winners will be announced on October 12, 2010 at a banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teacher builder

Teacher builder 
Business World Online
September 28, 2010

Engr. Remegio Salanatin
Corporate President
R.G. Salanatin Construction

Civil engineer Remegio Salanatin, founder and president of R.G. Salanatin Construction, considers himself a "lucky entrepreneur" because he never planned things to happen but they just fell into place. And while he attributes his good fortune to "getting the right breaks at the right time," he blended vision, insight and expertise to transform this luck into a thriving construction business.

Entrepreneurship was not Mr. Salanatin’s original career track; it was in academe. After graduating valedictorian from the University of San Agustin in 1965 and placing second in the civil engineering board exams, he took up graduate studies in Structural Engineering at the University of the Philippines and Business Administration at the De La Salle University. He worked in Manila briefly before returning to the province to pursue his interest in education and learning. He joined the faculty of the Notre Dame Midsayap College and taught introductory courses on engineering.

However, it seemed that a quiet life as an educator was not his destiny when he was approached by two big schools in Cotabato City to help them with the construction of their buildings. Seeing an opportunity to put his knowledge into practice, he established R.G. Salanatin Construction in 1967. These initial projects became the foundation of his reputation as a dependable contractor. Looking back he says, "In those days, if people know that you are a faculty member, your credibility increases. Suppliers trusted me because they trusted my credentials."

Mr. Salanatin added innovation to his credibility. He developed two strategies that would be the hallmark of his company: the Design & Build (D&B) construction scheme, and Easy-to-Pay (ETP) terms.

D&B is a holistic approach to construction, offering the full suite of services from planning to design and the actual physical construction. This differs from the costly industry practice where owners first seek architects for the project design and then hire a builder.

Mr. Salanatin also offered the ETP option which would require his clients to pay only 30-70% of the contract price upon the project’s completion. The balance would then be paid off monthly over a six to 24-month period. Again, this was not typical in the industry where a downpayment and periodic payments are the norm.

While the D&B and ETP proved very popular with clients, Mr. Salanatin also came up with other methodologies to increase construction work efficiency. He formulated a unique construction scheduling method for project managers and supervisors called Milestone dates, on top of the standard Time Bar Chart construction schedule. This was done to enhance overall efficiency on project completion.

Mr. Salanatin also takes pride in having authored a handbook for construction supervisors. Based on his own experiences, this handbook serves as a best practices guide on how to become an efficient supervisor. He emphasizes the importance of completing a project on schedule with quality workmanship and within budget. He encourages construction supervisors to be committed to achieving these goals, as they largely determine the success of a project.

With his methodic and pedagogic approach to his business it is not surprising that majority of R.G. Salanatin Construction Company’s clients are academic institutions. The company lists among its many projects educational structures, including libraries, gymnasiums, high school and grade school buildings, and faculty and student housing. "Learning has always been a part of my life," he says with a smile. "From being a student, to a teacher, and now, as a builder of learning institutions. I help the country because I build schools, which is essential for education."

Having established the company’s reputation in the Cotabato region, Mr. Salanatin relocated to Davao in 1980, aspiring to become one of the five leading construction companies there. With determination, he was able to build up his company in Davao in less than five years. The company is now looking to expand further in the country, eyeing the Visayas region for potential opportunities.

Still a teacher at heart, Mr. Salanatin encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to do their best while still in school. He says, "Always strive for excellence even as a student. It is a person’s innate competence that will define his level of self-confidence. And you can’t be a true leader or manager without confidence."


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. This year’s winners will be announced on October 12, 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2011.

Sarangani arms tanks, troops with books

Sarangani arms tanks, troops with books
PIA News Agency
September 28, 2010

Alabel, Sarangani -- In its battle to end poverty through education, Sarangani local government, the private sector and the Armed Forces of the Philippines launched the Education Revolution "Karunungan Kontra Kahirapan" Monday (September 27) with military tanks and trucks carrying thousands of books.

Hundreds of men in uniform, local officials, parents, teachers and pupils put on their green "Karunungan Kontra Kahirapan" armband at the launching program in Alabel Central Elementary School.

Four trucks of the Philippine Army"s 1st Mechanized Infantry and troops from the 73rd Infantry Battalion carried 37,570 workbooks for the province"s Grade I and Grade II pupils to be distributed within the next three days.

In his State of Sarangani Education Report, Governor Migs Dominguez stressed the strengthening of the community"s participation for education through parent mentoring.

"Before, our province marked the lowest scores in testing centers," Dominguez said. "We have increased our National Achievement Test from 41% in 2006 to 69% this year."

"This is despite our lack of 282 classrooms and 319 teachers for our children," the governor noted.

Department of Education assistant regional director Allan Farnazo congratulated the local government for building 28 new integrated high schools in Sarangani for the province"s remotest communities.

"I am also proud to announce that your province has the highest participation rate in the whole region," Farnazo said.

For his part, Vice Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon said "through education, we do not only give our communities fish to eat, but we teach them how to fish so that they will have a better future."

The "joint forces" of the private sector, provincial government, officials and employees of Sarangani"s seven towns - Alabel, Malapatan, Glan, Maasim, Kiamba, Maitum and Malungon - will lead the distribution of workbooks to Alabel"s 30 elementary schools simultaneously in the afternoon.

Distribution of the rest of the workbooks to the other 200 elementary schools in the province was scheduled on September 28-29.

Private sector entities joining the Education Revolution were UnionBank"s Educational Learning System "As A Filipino" Reading Program (workbooks for Grade II), Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), Synergeia Foundation, Alcantara Foundation (AF), Conal Holdings Corporation, Finfish Hatchery, Inc., Southern Philippines Power Corporation (SSPC), Philippine Army"s 1002nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Mechanized Infantry Brigade and 73rd Infantry Battalion.

"We are joining Sarangani"s Education Revolution because we understand education as the key to prosperity and it is our corporate social responsibility to help the children," SMI general manager Mark Williams said. "We have already shown our commitment to improve human capital through education."

SMI was awarded regional outstanding stakeholder for education in 2009.

"Parents and children - you are the stars of our celebration today," SPPC human resource manager Joel Aton said.

"We have seen how much you need for education and so we focused our programs on education by giving scholarships, building classrooms, and giving of school supplies," Aton said.

SPPC has been reproducing workbooks for Sarangani schools and committed to continue this effort until 2018 with increase in the number of books to be reproduced every year.

"All you need now is to read more and study harder," Conal Holdings Corporation project assurance manager Rommel Tomas Falgui said.

"For a successful revolution, we need access to weapons, that is our books, in our fight against poverty through education," AF executive director Richlie Lyndon Magtulis said.

Nestle Philippine also launched its Koko Crunch Project with 42,000 boxes of Koko Crunch cereals worth P5.5 million for Sarangani school children with the Philippine Business for Social Progress P520,000 fund to buy milk. (PIO Sarangani/PIA SarGen)

Monday, September 27, 2010

From hotelier to rainmaker

From hotelier to rainmaker
Business World Online
September 27, 2010

Annabella Santos-Wisniewski
President and CEO
Raintree Management Partners, Inc.

Seasoned travelers rave about two major observations on the Philippines. First is the ethereal, almost unearthly beauty of the land; second is the endearing warmth and hospitality of Filipinos in general. These two standout qualities were the fundamental strengths on which Annabella Santos-Wisniewski capitalized to build her business, Raintree Management Partners, Inc.

Mrs. Wisniewski has built a tourism development group that leverages on the best aspects of the Philippines. Raintree-managed properties attract a sizeable chunk of local and international tourists. These include Discovery Shores Boracay and Discovery Country Suites Tagaytay. Combining her extensive experience in the hospitality industry with an innate entrepreneurial spirit, she has helped to greatly enhance the standards of quality and service in the travel industry.

Mrs. Wisniewski says that she was born with entrepreneurship running in her veins. She began her entrepreneurial journey in the United States where she worked in various segments of the hospitality industry for over 20 years, renovating and reselling foreclosed hotels with much success. She reprised her success in Singapore where she helped jumpstart the Ascott chain of serviced residences. She was recognized to have been instrumental in the company’s success, which led to its going public in 1987.

In 1995, the chairman of the Ascott group asked her to return to the Philippines to head their local country operations. However, instead of accepting the offer, Mrs. Wisniewski experienced an epiphany and decided to establish her own company instead: "I thought to myself -- ‘The Philippines is a goldmine! Why am I doing things for other countries when there is so much to do for my own?"

In 1996, Mrs. Wisniewski set up Raintree Management Partners, Inc. as an independent consulting services firm serving established hotel chains such as the Four Seasons and the Shangri-La. Mrs. Wisniewski recalls that she started small, "Really small! It was just my driver, my secretary and I." She now has 1,000 employees.

In addition to the consulting business, Mrs. Wisniewski ventured into operations to build market presence. HSAI Raintree Hospitality Management was formed to operate luxury hotels. In 1998, Raintree entered into a technical service and a long-term management agreement with Discovery Suites to pioneer the full serviced-apartment concept. The tie-up received international recognition and the company was named the Best Employer for Asia in 2003 by Hewitt Associates.

Raintree Management Partners, Inc. believes in injecting innovation into their projects such as providing free Wi-Fi in all Raintree-managed luxury hotels and resorts; revolutionizing corporate food service; and giving quality dining experience in their tastefully designed restaurants that occasionally feature art exhibits and other events.

Mrs. Wisniewski ensures that each innovative approach is market driven and location specific. "After all, we are in the ‘people business’ and it is the people who lounge by our infinity pools and enjoy the amenities our luxury hotels and resorts provide," she states.

Quick to recognize opportunities, Mrs. Wisniewski likewise went into the food service business when she was approached with a proposal to develop a food court at the Enterprise Center on Ayala Avenue. She pioneered a new concept -- themed food parks in a corporate setting, combining easy and affordable dining with events and entertainment. With the initial success of The Enterprise Center Food Court, Raintree started to receive numerous inquiries and offers from other Makati building owners.

To manage the growing demand, she created FoodParks by Raintree in 1998. At present, FoodParks operates the Food Park at the Enterprise Center, Food Odyssey at the LKG Tower, Food & Art Galerie at GT Tower, Food Patio at the PBCom Tower and Food Arcade at the PhilAm Tower.

Being revenue minded, Mrs. Wisniewski knew that it was not financially sufficient to just sublease spaces in the food parks. She organized a subgroup, the Retail Food Group, to operate various food and beverage stalls like Lola’s Kitchen, Pinoy Sizzlers, City Bites, the New York Cafe and FP Express. Seeing that the business was rapidly growing, Mrs. Wisniewski asked her son Andrej to oversee the FoodParks business. The Wisniewski family is very involved in the business and in fact, she says: "My husband and my sons are major players in all my endeavors, and their support and encouragement constantly inspire me."

From FoodParks emerged yet another division -- Raintree Restaurants. The division runs the M Cafe in the Ayala Museum Complex. This was followed by Chelsea Market & Cafe at Serendra, Mr. Jones in Greenbelt 5 and Momo in the Eastwood Mall.

Mrs. Wisniewski’s deep knowledge of the hospitality industry provides Raintree with its competitive edge and is primarily responsible for the group’s market leadership and successful ventures. Moving forward, plans are underway to launch a new generation of hotels and resorts. It is currently developing two beachfront properties in Baler -- one is moderately priced for the budget-conscious traveler and the other, an exclusive high-quality resort and an eco-adventure destination. Discovery Bay Albay will also be opening soon.

While being aggressive in growing the business, Mrs. Wisniewski is also passionate about people development. Key people are sent for training to institutions like Cornell University and the Asian Institute of Management and industry experts are invited to conduct in-house seminars.

With a robust organizational structure backed by a solid business framework, Raintree’s growth has been impressive, but Mrs. Wisniewski recalls when it wasn’t so. "At the beginning, we had to overcome the perception that only international hotel groups could deliver world-class quality." This did not deter her as she steadfastly believed that commitment, effort, optimism and passion can overcome any difficulties: "There’s just no substitute for tenacity and hard work. These are valuable traits that anyone must live by."

Annabella Santos-Wisniewski tirelessly works to enhance and develop the country’s best qualities, particularly its people. Her advice to young entrepreneurs is this: The Filipino can! Success takes a lot of believing. Believe in yourself and in your dreams, and do not fear failure. In the end, it is not the falling but the rising that counts.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on October 12, 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vacation with a heart for the environment

Vacation with a heart for the environment
By Cris Evert Lato
Inquirer Visayas
September 25, 2010

GETTING a fair share of the tourist market is not just about providing the best room service to guests. To Cebuano-owned Be Resort, the developing strategy lies in their recently coined word—voluntourism.

A fusion of two words, volunteerism and tourism, voluntourism seeks to develop a culture of environmental awareness among guests while still allowing them to have fun on their vacation.

“Simply put, this is vacation with the heart for the environment,” said Joy Benedicto, managing director of Be Resort.

Benedicto (not related to this page editor) said voluntourism is the “first of its kind in the country” where the resort comes up with series of events and vacation packages that focus on fun and environmental awareness.

Benedicto said guests could opt to include in their vacation package participating in clean-up drives or mangrove planting or island-hopping to Olango. Guests will receive certificates of participation for their involvement in any of the environmental activities.

The resort has partnered with environmental organization, OceanCare Advocates Inc., in organizing island-hopping to Olango, the cleanup drives and the mangrove planting.

The program was launched on Sept. 11 but even before that, it has attracted both local and foreign guests, who have expressed interest in participating in mangrove planting and clean-up drives.

“We hope to do this on a regular basis because for us, it is also our responsibility to inform our guests that we need to take care of the environment,” said marketing and communications manager, Andrea Lugue.

Experimental learning
The group of Manila and Cebu media practitioners joined the Sept. 11 launch and was treated to a different kind of vacation—wading through waist-deep seawater, enduring the sun’s scorching heat and planting over 2,000 mangrove propagules on Olango Island.

Since the island is also home to the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, the group was privileged to see migratory birds resting on the island before migrating to a warmer country. The group stayed in the observatory deck and used a telescope to see the birds.

Mario Marababol, administrator of OceanCare Advocates, said Olango Island has been part of the East Asian Migration Flyway. Birds from Siberia, Mongolia, Japan and China seek temporary shelter on the island on their way to New Zealand and Australia.

The migration normally starts in September. Peak season, where most birds are found on the island, is November.

“We are very blessed here. The island is the resting ground for rare and endangered species and the number of birds resting on the island has grown every year,” Marababol said.

As of August 2010, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has counted more than 3,000 birds.

Marababol said planting mangroves, participating in cleanup drives and observing the birds are the activities they would like hotel guests to experience to deliver the message that taking care of the environment needs extra and conscious effort.

Marababol, who gave a short talk on proper mangrove planting and biodiversity, said the culture of apathy was still apparent in many people, young and old alike.

Hence, he said, there was a need to further raise the level of awareness through experiental activities such as the voluntourism program initiated by Be Resort.

He said the program ensured low-impact but sustainable development in the lives of the locals living in the area. He cited the example where residents could sell buko to guests while they stay for the day on the island.

“Many government units think of high-impact projects, constructing ala-Disneyland with all the rides but they don’t think that we can do something like this out of eco-tourism. This is eco-tourism—low impact but sustainable,” said Marababol.

Benedicto, who joined the team composed of 10 divers, said they were able to collect a total of 150 kilos of garbage including firecrackers, PVC pipes, tin cans, CFL bulbs, disposable diapers and flashlights, from the sea.

Antonio Aboitiz, president of Philippine Business for Social Progress Visayas, was also one of the volunteer divers.

“All around the country, cleanup drives and mangrove planting are happening. For us in Be Resort, we want to give back to the environment because it provides us with so much. For voluntourism, we are combining vacation and the giving back aspect. We are inviting everyone to be the spark,” she said.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finding strength and happiness - in numbers

Finding strength and happiness -- in numbers
Business World Online
September 24, 2010

Paolo Benigno Aquino IV
Mark Joaquin Ruiz
President/Managing Director
MicroVentures, Inc.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." These often-quoted lines by poet Robert Frost aptly describe the journey of school friends Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV and Mark Joaquin Ruiz. Years later, their minds would meet and together would embark courageously on the road not taken. They would co-create a revolutionary microenterprise business model to address the economic and social inequity for those marginalized by the status quo -- the more than 50% of the total Filipino population who lives on less than $2 a day.

They had gone on different career tracks after graduating with Management Engineering degrees from the Ateneo de Manila. After college, Mr. Aquino established himself in the public service sector, while Mr. Ruiz ventured into the corporate world.

"I always considered myself a social entrepreneur," Mr. Aquino says, "because I was driven by a strong public service perspective." As a fresh graduate, he joined the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Special Projects Group and was involved in a rehabilitation center for abused and neglected children, disaster management projects, relief operations and volunteer recruitment. He then spearheaded the National Youth Commission as its commissioner-at-large in 2001 before becoming its chairman and CEO in 2003. "In government, I witnessed programs that had short-term gains but no long-term effects for the people it served. That influenced me to think of something that could make a lasting, transforming difference for Filipinos."

Mr. Ruiz, on the other hand, joined global company Unilever as customer development executive and merchandising supervisor. There he honed his skills in customer marketing, promotions development and planning. In just six years, he rose to the position of senior customer marketing manager and CMD head. Mr. Ruiz says, "Unlike Bam, I only considered myself an entrepreneur when I resigned from Unilever to collaborate with him. But being in sales and marketing, I always pushed for social development through innovation and entrepreneurship -- the intersection of my passions and skills."

Mr. Ruiz’s experience in marketing fast-moving consumer goods led to the idea of leveraging on the Filipino sari-sari or convenience stores, usually found in lower-income communities, that make up around 40% of total retail sales in the country. Seeing both the problems and the potentials of the sector, they theorized that for the stores to grow and be truly viable, they needed to enter a new phase of microentrepreneurship development.

After exchanging ideas on innovative microfinance development with like-minded individuals -- among them Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip, founder of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development-Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD-MRI) and with whom they would eventually tie up -- Mr. Aquino and Mr. Ruiz concretized their plans and developed a business plan for aggregating microretail outlets, which led to MicroVentures, Inc. (MVI)

MVI started its formal operations in 2007 as a social business enterprise working with CARD-MRI and its borrowers through its flagship project, the "Hapinoy Store Program." A combination of the words "happy" and "Pinoy," Hapinoy aims to "make every Filipino happy" by using an ecosystem management approach to improve local microenterprises. Through the program, a borrower who has top credit scores can borrow capital to convert an existing convenience store into a small Hapinoy Store or a larger Hapinoy Community Store, which serves over 50 small stores.

Recognizing that sari-sari stores are usually owned and run by the woman of the household (the mother or nanay), the Hapinoy Program focuses on increasing these Nanays’ profitability. Nanays are given access to business management and marketing knowledge through the "Path to Prosperity," a four-tiered program designed to assist a fledgling Hapinoy store. Mr. Ruiz says, "We believe that empowering the woman microentrepreneur is a pivotal factor in reducing poverty. Increasing her profitability leads to an improved quality of life for her family and her community as well."

The Hapinoy Program harnesses the potential of smaller enterprises through microfinancing, aggregation, value chain integration, business model innovation, branding and training. By linking Hapinoy Stores with established manufacturers and microproducers, MVI brings sari-sari stores into an organized supply chain. Moreover, MVI is able to get goods directly and at a lower cost and is able to pass these savings on to Hapinoy Stores. "Our partner companies do very well on their own, but they also see the intrinsic value in helping the community," Mr. Aquino says.

As marketing and branding consultant, merchandise consolidator and training provider, MVI teaches each Nanay to make her own business more resilient, profitable and sustainable. Through a training program named Sariskwela, members are equipped with best practices on pricing, inventory and credit management, business expansion and goal setting. Veering away from the traditional patronage relationship between an organization and its beneficiary, Hapinoy empowers each Nanay to be a proactive manager accountable for her own business decisions. While the program teaches each Nanay ways to increase her monthly earnings from P3,000 to P18,000 within six to eight months, MVI’s ultimate goal is to improve her entrepreneurial ability and, consequently, her family’s livelihood, self-esteem and dignity.

In this respect, the Hapinoy Program is different from similar microfinancing or social enterprise models in Mexico or India, where the main focus is on raising funds for the organization’s goals. Village stores in Southeast Asia exist but are not consolidated systematically. Mr. Ruiz mentions that international microfinancing organization Grameen Foundation has singled out Hapinoy’s uniqueness -- while social in nature, it is run like a real business.

"We envisioned Hapinoy as a flexible and wide-ranging platform, giving us more areas of application such as retail, production, mobile banking, technology and healthcare," Mr. Aquino adds. In fact, a grant from the Science and Technology Innovations for the Base of the Pyramid in Southeast Asia has enabled MVI to pilot its Hapinoy Health Hub, which makes affordable medicine available in Hapinoy communities.

Currently, there are 150 Hapinoy Communities of around 10,000 stores concentrated in Southern Luzon. MVI hopes to expand operations in North Luzon by next year and, eventually, establish a Hapinoy presence in every town in the country. Groups in other countries have also expressed interest in replicating the program, and both Mr. Aquino and Mr. Ruiz foresee international expansion.

Mr. Ruiz acknowledges, however, that the present business environment is not quite ready for large-scale social enterprises; for example, there is not much "patient" (long-term) capital source available given the developmental aspect, and for-profit organizations cannot accept donations without being taxed. Mr. Aquino sees this as an opportunity for advocacy, saying that, "It’s time more people push for social entrepreneurship. As donations for non-government organizations get scarcer, social enterprises need to take the lead." Both believe that in the long term, they can help microenterprises integrate into the formal economy and create a system of entrepreneurs helping other entrepreneurs. They dream of changing the world, one happy Pinoy at a time -- it is the road they have taken.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. Official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group in the Philippines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on October 12, 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Veco to plant 5T seedlings in Tabunan

Veco to plant 5T seedlings in Tabunan
Cebu Daily News
September 24, 2010

More than a hundred employees and contractors of the Visayan Electric Company (Veco) will plant 5,000 tree seedlings to cap off the Philippine Business for Social Progress’ (PBSP) annual reforestation caravan tomorrow, Sept. 25.

The seedlings of lumbang, narra, tagilomboy and hambabalod will be planted in sitio Sayaw, barangay Tabunan, Cebu City.

The planting site is located within the Kotkot-Lusaran Watershed and Forest Reserve, one of the protected areas of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

The CCPL is instrumental in providing Metro Cebu its major source of potable water. It is also where most of Cebu’s rainforests are located, making it one of the most ecologically diverse spots in Cebu.

Also joining Veco are 130 employees from the Metrobank Group and Petron Corporation.

PBSP's annual reforestation caravan, which runs for 15 Saturdays, kicked off last June with more than 731 volunteers from 54 institutions.

Part of the major environment initiatives of PBSP, the program aims to encourage the business sector to get directly involved in the protection of the CCPL by either adopting a hectare for reforestation or bringing their employee volunteers to plant.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Soup is good food...and business

Soup is good food... and business
Business World Online
September 23, 2010

Adelfa Lepura Borro
President and CEO
Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy

The humble batchoy -- comfort food to many Ilonggos -- has become the iconic food of Iloilo. A bowl of steaming batchoy may look appetizing yet simple but, if one digs deeper, you will find an interesting story of an entrepreneur and his progeny.

Teodoro "Ted" Lepura invested all of his 10 pesos to start his eatery in a public market. He served what became his signature dish -- La Paz batchoy. While the soup originates from the town of La Paz, Mr. Lepura perfected its broth and added round noodles called meke. This was way back in 1945 when he sold batchoy at 20 centavos a bowl.

Among his children, it would be his daughter Adelfa (now Borro) who would inherit both his penchant for cooking and entrepreneurial spirit. At 10, she was already trained to be the cook and templadora (one who mixes and adjusts the taste of the broth). To this day, she has maintained the original flavor of her father’s famous batchoy or as what others may say, "just like the old times." Indeed, a bowl of Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy holds much history.

For as long as he was alive, Mr. Lepura lorded over his kitchen. Ms. Borro took over managing the business only after acquiring her Commerce degree from the Western Institute of Technology in 1973. By that time, the business had grown from its stall in the La Paz Public Market into a full-fledged restaurant called Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy. Mrs. Borro’s skills in the kitchen and her inherent understanding of the Filipino merienda mentality were instrumental in helping the business thrive.

"One of the things we needed to ensure was a consistent ’old-timer taste’ for every bowl of batchoy," she relates. "Some of our loyal patrons had been coming to us for years and we couldn’t disappoint them."

Banking on the Filipino habit of merienda (mid-morning or late afternoon snacks), Mrs. Borro decided to use her own savings and a bank loan to expand the family business. She opened a branch on Valeria Street, Iloilo City in 1985.

At first, the restaurant served batchoy with puto or pan de sal as side dishes. She started to introduce batchoy options like other choices of noodles. She also came up with Namit (Yummy) Meals, All-Day Breakfast Meals and Pancit Guisado Specials. These new products were well-received by customers, kept competitors at bay and generated more sales for businesses.

"Sipag (hard work), tiyaga (perseverance) at tibay ng loob (guts)," Mrs. Borro says, are the necessary ingredients to success.

These values have continually pushed Ted’s to its steady growth. Seeing that the business was gaining a major foothold in the market, she started streamlining operations in 2002 by establishing a company profile and formalizing the operations manual. A year later, Mrs. Borro embarked on a more aggressive expansion route through franchising. Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy now has 12 franchises all over the Philippines in addition to 23 company-owned restaurants.

However, expanding the business came with its own set of challenges. When the company decided to open a branch in Mindanao, they were faced with a non-pork eating clientele. Mrs. Borro responded by introducing the beef batchoy.

"Although the basic ingredient is beef, it still has the rich meaty taste and distinct flavor of the original recipe. You can barely tell the difference!" she enthuses.

The beef batchoy became a huge hit and is now offered in all Ted’s branches nationwide.

Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy has already become a household name in the food industry with branches all over the country and still growing.

Yet Mrs. Borro has never been one to rest on her laurels. Understanding the need to nurture the business into the future, she began to explore the next stage in Ted’s evolution. She initiated renovations at all her restaurants, outfitting then with modern decor and architecture.

In keeping with the times, she started exploring the cafe concept where ambience and comfort complement delicious and affordable food. When Ted’s opened its newest branch on May 16, 2010 at Diversion Road in Iloilo City, this cafe concept was adopted. The food offerings now include a variety of coffee concoctions and an assortment of cakes and pastries for Dulgie’s -- Ted’s sister company owned by Mrs. Borro’s daughter, Allen Mae. Eventually, steaks and grilled specialties will be worked into the menu.

These innovations helped Mrs. Borro score a coup for Ted’s; the concept became popular not only among longtime patrons but also among the young and upwardly mobile crowd. She is also looking at ways to target home consumers.

Working close-ly with the Department of Science and Technology, Mrs. Borro is planning to develop an instant noodle version of the famed dish. She is confident that the product will stay true to the taste of the original La Paz batchoy. Richer in flavor and fuller in taste, Mrs. Borro believes that her instant La Paz Batchoy will be unlike any other being sold in the market.

Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy has been recognized for its excellent reputation and customer service. In 2005, it was declared the Best La Paz Batchoy by the National Shoppers’ Choice Awards. Mrs. Borro is committed to maintaining this position by focusing her efforts on continuously enhancing product quality, restaurant ambience and customer service.

"I always remind my employees that their good service reflects not only on the business but on the Ilonggo culture where good food must be prepared and served with the highest quality," she emphasizes.

She also believes in adopting a hands-on management approach to running the business. "As an entrepreneur," she reasons, "you have to stay on top of operations and know every aspect of the business. Being hands-on is crucial in driving business growth."

A formidable business figure in her own right, Mrs. Borro has come a long way from being her father’s little kitchen helper. Now the visionary behind Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy, Mrs. Borro knows all too well the value of hard work and perseverance. Of all the lessons Adelfa Lepura Borro has learned since taking over Ted’s Oldtimer La Paz Batchoy, the most lasting is that a strong belief in oneself and the fearlessness to take on calculated risks can do wonders for the business. Her father’s legacy has taught her that good old hard work almost always results in abundance.

"As an entrepreneur, you have your work cut out for you. And yet all you really need is the determination to see it through," she says.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group in the Philippines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 has concluded its search for the country’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc. with the participation of co-presenters De La Salle University, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Stock Exchange and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wealth in and of water

Wealth in and of water
Business World Online
September 22, 2010

Gabino M. Abejo, Jr.
Abejo Builders Corp.

Cebu City is the hub of trade, industry, tourism and education in the Visayas. Steeped in history and rich in local traditions, it has been consistently rated among the top island destinations in Asia. However, it is also a known fact that Metro Cebu has had a water supply problem for some time now because of deforestation and seawater seeping into its underground water supply. That water is a basic human necessity cannot be ignored in this populous area and 27-year-old Gabino M. Abejo, Jr. has risen to this challenge. He has channeled his drive, energy and boundless enthusiasm into projects to provide clean, safe water to barangays in Talisay and Consolacion, Cebu.

Leveraging on the resources and experience of Abejo Builders Corp., Mr. Abejo guided his family’s business into diversifying from construction into bulk water production. The company was created in 1999 as a family-owned construction business based in Mandaue City. At that time, Mr. Abejo’s brother Gerry headed the company that was involved in small piping projects with the Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD). Seeing an opportunity to supply potable water by engineering their own water delivery system, the Abejo family began shifting their focus to water production. The company partnered with a Manila-based water distribution consultant to learn more about the industry.

A big break occurred in 2003 when the company won a bid to supply a minimum of 4,000 cubic meters (cu. m.) of potable water to the MCWD for distribution in Talisay City. As this was the company’s first venture into the business, it took 12 months to build the system. In 2005, Gerry stepped down, and his younger brother, Gabino, took over as vice-president of the business.

Mr. Abejo has had some experience in the water industry. After graduating from Northwood University in Florida in 2004, he came home and set up a water refilling station in Mactan, where water is mostly brackish. The success of his business led to two more branches within the next nine months.

As head of the company, Mr. Abejo saw the huge potential of expanding into the bulk water system. He decided to restructure the company with water supply as its primary service and construction as a secondary service. Under his leadership, the company made significant investments in their water system model to ensure cost efficiency. This allowed the company to offer reasonable and competitive prices to both customers and water districts.

From an initial supply of 4,000 cu. m. daily, the Talisay bulk water system increased production to an average of 5,600 cu. m. daily by 2007. A year later, the company won another MWCD contract to supply a minimum of 7,000 cu. m. daily of potable water to the town of Consolacion. Despite being a fledgling in the water business, they were able to supply the MCWD with up to 15,000 cu. m. a day.

Moreover, lessons from their previous project enabled Abejo Builders to complete the new system in just six months or half the time it took to complete their first water system. The six-month turnaround is now a standard guarantee in their contracts.

With an eye for opportunity, Mr. Abejo also envisioned a way to help the communities where their bulk water supply system was located. Noting that not all houses in the barangays had ready access to the water supplied by the MCWD, Abejo Builders provided communal faucets in as many as 12 to 15 areas in the barangay. Water is available 24 hours a day and is free of charge. This was the start of his "Barangayan Water Project."

However, the water needs of the community proved to be too great, prompting Mr. Abejo to expand the project into a level three water supply system. This meant installing water meters in all houses and providing water directly to the barangay residents, at no cost to the local government.

Mr. Abejo also pegged the price per cubic meter at P1 lower than the MCWD’s to further subsidize the expenses in the community. The connection fee of P4,000 is also charged over a 12-month installment plan.

Mr. Abejo sees this as building a sense of social responsibility in his company. He hopes to replicate this system in other barangays wherever the company’s bulk water supply system is located.

Inspired by his company’s rapid growth and success, Mr. Abejo aggressively pushes on, aiming to further increase the volume he supplies to the MCWD by an additional 25,000 cu. m.

This year, he has already won five new supply contracts, two systems of which they have started to build. Apart from servicing the MCWD, Mr. Abejo is also in talks with two private companies to supply them with 4,000 cu. m. a day using surface water technology and brackish water desalination technology.

To undertake new and bigger projects, Mr. Abejo relies on his employees to deliver. To him, they are the company’s strongest assets, and he makes it a point to meet with his management and staff regularly to discuss problems and opportunities.

Every six months the company also organizes team building activities for the staff. He believes that employees continually become more efficient and innovative due to their culture of mutual trust, respect and teaming. He considers this to be the key to Abejo Builders’ growing competitiveness.

Confident of his team and optimistic about the opportunities in the water sector, Mr. Abejo is keen about the company’s expansion. There are plans to list on the Philippine Stock Exchange, acquire other bulk water supplier companies with existing contracts, and to bid on projects for other water districts outside Cebu, such as in Southern Luzon and other parts in the Visayas and Mindanao.

With youthful exuberance, Mr. Abejo is charting a course that he hopes will help improve the lives of his fellow Cebuanos and other Filipinos.

"It truly motivates me when I see poor people in the barangays living better and healthier lives because of the 24-hour potable water our company supplies directly to their houses. The never-ending show of gratitude whenever I visit these barangays inspires me to work harder and to duplicate this project in areas not served by the local water district," he says.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group in the Philippines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on October 12, 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2011. The Entrepreneur Of The Year is produced globally by Ernst & Young.

Developer, Banawa schoolkids plant trees

Developer, Banawa schoolkids plant trees
Cebu Daily News
September 22, 2010

The Monterrazas de Cebu subdivision partnered with the Grade 6 pupils of Banawa Elementary School for its tree planting program last Aug. 28 at the subdivision’s site in barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City.

Marga Villalon, vice president of Genvi, the developer of Monterrazas de Cebu, said the tree planting activity was aimed to address Genvi’s mission of taking care of the environment and to involve the students of Banawa Elementary School, Monterrazas de Cebu's adopted school in the program. Lawyer Dindo Perez, Genvi’s managing director, said pro-environmental activities such as the tree planting and Linap creek clean-up have been part of the “green” efforts of Genvi and Monterrazas de Cebu.

In previous years, Genvi has planted trees within Monterrazas in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The resolute grocer

The resolute grocer 
Business World Online
September 21, 2010

Corazon Pineda-Aquino
Chief Finance Officer
C & Triple A Supermarket, Inc.

Just like her famous namesake, Corazon Pineda-Aquino is a woman with steely determination. Since childhood, her sense of entrepreneurship has always found a way to express itself.

Born in Tarlac to working-class parents, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino always sought out opportunities to earn additional income. As a young girl, she would collect and sell used bottles of vinegar and soy sauce. Because her family lived near a movie theater, she would harvest star apples from their backyard and sell them to hungry moviegoers.

She later earned a Commerce degree from the University of Baguio and married shortly after. To supplement the family income, she would sell eggs and tocino from their apartment. She even convinced her banker husband to sell to his coworkers. Borrowing a relative’s car, the couple also offered their products to sari-sari stores around town. In two years, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino opened a stall, named Triple A Poultry Products, in the Baguio Public Market.

With their retail store’s success, Mr. Aquino decided to resign and help his wife manage their business full-time. Unfortunately, fire hit the marketplace only a few months after they started their business, destroying their entire inventory. It was a very difficult time as the Aquinos could not get any financial assistance to rebuild their business. "Just thinking about it again is heartbreaking," she admits, "but the trial actually defined my business principle: there are no obstacles too big for a determined woman."

Unwilling to let the misfortune deter her, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino fell back on her instinct and resourcefulness. With a fierce determination, she peddled sisig and barbeque on the sidewalks of Burnham Park. Business picked up and she was able to rent a space near the public market, where she put up a small sari-sari store. A few years later, she spotted a prime location along Zandueta Street and opened a 10-square meter mini-grocery.

With prudence and careful planning, the mini-grocery expanded into a 450-square meter establishment called C & Triple A Supermarket. Initially a sole proprietorship, C & Triple A has expanded into several corporations: C & Triple A Supermarket, Inc. and Pakjaz Corporation which operate three supermarket chains, A-Pine Marketing, Inc. to handle the supermarket’s marketing efforts, and Northern Luzon Market Associates Corporation for distribution.

One of the supermarkets of choice in Baguio City, C & Triple A caters to the C, D and E classes, especially local sari-sari stores that purchase items in bulk. It implements a fully integrated point-of-sale system, enabling management to monitor all transactions. This is managed by her son Patrick, who is her executive assistant in retail and the company’s IT head. "I always learn from the younger ones. Older entrepreneurs like me should always be open to innovations, especially if they help the growth of the business or benefit the customers," Mrs. Aquino-Pineda reveals.

Other innovations in the pipeline include a C & Triple A Customer Loyalty Card and a sales database to provide suppliers with sales offtake data.

While C & Triple A was enjoying modest growth, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino was aware that smaller trading channels such as sari-sari stores would regularly encounter problems in acquiring goods from Manila-based distribution companies. As a consequence, pricing in these channels became exorbitant. This prompted her to venture into distribution in 2000. To strike a win-win balance for all parties, she established A-Pine Marketing in partnership with her principal suppliers. She created a hybrid distribution model, concentrating efforts on developing marginal accounts and making value-for-money goods available to smaller channels. Soon, the smaller trade channels started to enjoy more efficient business because A-Pine’s parity pricing allowed them lower prices while achieving better margins. Today, A-Pine Marketing is the distributor of choice for sari-sari stores in Baguio.

C & Triple A aims to provide consumers with a one-stop shop for their food and grocery needs. The building is currently being renovated to add a second level which will house a meat shop, chicken station, fresh vegetables counter and an ice cream station. The distribution firms will also be starting the construction of a second warehouse and an office building for anticipated new principals.

While Mrs. Pineda-Aquino considers herself an aggressive entrepreneur, she carefully evaluates whether an opportunity should be seized by conducting feasibility studies and holding board meetings to gather insights. "I’m not afraid of moving forward," she says, "but taking risks doesn’t mean blindly jumping right in. It’s still about making calculated choices." This prudent attitude is reflected in the group’s success -- consolidated annual income more than doubled in the past year. More importantly, she measures success in the number of people her business is able to help and support. Thus, C & Triple A holds regular skills training programs to improve customer service. She also cultivates a close-knit culture among her employees and says they treat each other like family.

Having undergone misfortune and hardship firsthand, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino believes that corporate social responsibility can make a real difference in the community. Among its regular projects are providing in-kind donations such as tables and chairs to day care centers; supplying computer equipment to local police; and supporting various community projects. She also considers her two-year stint as president of the Baguio-Benguet Entrepreneurs and Traders Association as one of her successes. "Bringing these emerging entrepreneurs together for a common cause was an enlightening experience," she says. "It inspires me even more, knowing there are other like-minded people who share my passion for helping the poor and marginalized."

Looking back on the challenges she faced, Mrs. Pineda-Aquino says that she never considered just giving up and muses, "When things get tough, I rely on hard work, perseverance and faith." This woman entrepreneur from Baguio City certainly knows how to keep her cool in the face of adversity.


The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 is sponsored by SAP Philippines. The official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air-France KLM Group. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will be announced on 12 October 2010 at an awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Communication project can serve multiple purposes other than disaster-related, proponents assert

Communication project can serve multiple purposes other than disaster-related, proponents assert 
By Bong Pedalino
PIA News Agency
September 20, 2010

Southern Leyte (20 September) -- How can anyone gauge the success of a disaster-oriented communication project if there will be no ?major, major? such kind of event occurring -- God forbid -- for the two-year implementation duration of the private sector-led initiative?

For the corporate giants who backstopped the undertaking, like Smart Communications, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and the World Bank, the generous financier-institution that shelled out P 10 Million for this one, this concern is no big deal.

At a press conference held at the Governor?s Office here last week after formally launching the project dubbed ?Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte using SMS technology?, the proponents counted the ways -- several ways, in fact, in which the high-tech activity can still be of good use sans happening of a tragedy, natural or man-made.

Ramon Isberto of Smart stressed that in its bare essentials, communication can have multi-purpose applications, in relaying messages that need urgent action for urgent public matters to be attended right at once in the field.

He specifically cited the public health issue now prevailing, the containment of the dreaded dengue disease, wherein the channels of open communication from various levels -- barangay, municipality, province -- is important as it spells life and death among those concerned.

Rafael Lopa, PBSP Executive Director, said that the calamity that happened in Guinsaugon four years ago served as a wake-up call, that people have been wanting in terms of preparation, and awareness that such occurrence can happen anytime, hence the need to be constantly ready and prepared.

Jazmin Gutierrez, another high-ranking PBSP worker, discussed one of the project?s targets, which is to integrate all the existing early warning systems now in place for the people?s heightened disaster preparedness, in addition to the latest using SMS, and once found as functional, then the purpose of the present project has been served.

Chis Pablo of the World Bank was most emphatic: the more important consideration is to see to it that the pilot project works, with or without a disaster, since this will be made as the basis for rolling-out to other countries, like Vietnam, which is almost always affected every time a storm passes the Philippines.

In other words, the process is as vital as the resulting product, the journey as critical as reaching the destination.

Indeed, not bad for a project that has been described as innovative, and had found its way to the Development Marketplace in Washington, DC, there eventually chosen as among the 24 winners out of 1,700 entries from around the world.

Environmentalists use dancing for advocacy

Environmentalists use dancing for advocacy
Jessica Ann R. Pareja
The Freeman
September 20, 2010

CEBU, Philippines – In celebration of nature and to show respect to mother earth, the internationally known Earthdance was held in Cebu for the first time last Saturday and yesterday as the highlight of the Cebu Earth Summit 2010.

The 14-year-old Earthdance finally came to Cebu through the efforts of a network of individuals and groups who believe that through the universal languages of music, art and dance, they will be able to send a strong message to the people that it is now time for a change towards attaining an environmentally sustainable development.

Earthdance was conceived in 1996 with a vision to unite the whole world in peace through the universal platform of dance and music, according to Earthdance International.

Its mission is "to promote global peace, sustainability and social justice through an international online community and network of event producers participating in an annual multi-location music and peace festival."

The Earthdance was held at the Family Park in Talamban, Cebu City. More than 60 organizations and a lot of individuals participated in the event.

"We have to change our lifestyle to achieve an environmentally sustainable development because if we don't change the course we are on, we might not be able to sur-vive the future," said Jah Fe, one of the organizers. She does not belong to any particular organization but she is a member of the community who actively takes part in activi-ties that aim to save the environment.

Two things that Fe and his fellow advocates would like to achieve are community awareness and education and strengthened movement for environmentally sustain-able development.

Fe said that Cebu and the country as a whole has a very incredible environment such as the presence of rainforests, volcanoes, rich marine life.

"The Philippines has the highest biodiversity of corals, butterflies, birds and a very rich variety of rice but all of these are under a lot of pressure. It is rapidly degenerat-ing due to lost of habitat, change of habitat, population expansion without management and illegal activities that damage the environment," Fe said.

Mismanagement is putting the Philippine environment into a critical situation because the government is more of passive than pro-active.

"Degeneration is happening faster than before. It is the civil society that is also doing this, we have to help the government," Fe said.

Everyone can do something even in their own little way, Fe said, adding that basic energy conservation and water conservation tips are helpful if practiced.

Aboitiz Foundation turns over P1.53M to PBSP

Aboitiz Foundation turns over P1.53M to PBSP
Cebu Daily News
September 20, 2010

The Aboitiz Foundation recently turned over P1.53 million to the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

The amount represented the contributions for 2009-2010 from PBSP-member companies of Aboitiz, such as the Davao Light and Power Corp., Cotabato Light and Power Company, Pilmico Foods and Aboitiz Jebsen Bulk Transport Corp.

Aboitiz Foundation president Jon Ramon Aboitiz handed the check to PBSP chairman Manny Pangilinan in a ceremony held at the Aboitiz office in Makati City.

Also present were Aboitiz Foundation chairman Erramon Aboitiz and EVP-Managing Trustee Sonny Carpio, Pilmico Foods chairman Antonio Moraza, PBSP executive director Rafael Lopa and chief executive adviser Klaas Oreel and PLDT-Smart Foundation president Butch Meily.

“Aboitiz helps PBSP achieve its goals of nation building through its various projects nationwide. That is the commitment that we give being one of PBSP’s founding members,” said Jon Ramon Aboitiz.

“The PBSP member-companies’ contributions are used to attract larger grants and donations so that PBSP can increase its reach and impact. This year, PBSP will start its 8th five-year plan for poverty reduction. The programs will integrate disaster risk mitigation and ecological protection and ensure relevance in the rapidly changing environment,” said Pangilinan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Teaching values is great for business

Teaching values is great for business
By Cris Evert Lato
Inquirer Visayas
September 19, 2010

CEBU CITY — Little did fashion accessories exporter Grace Neilly Querickiol-Niggel know that her involvement in teaching values education to out-of-school youths in Cebu would open opportunities for her to succeed in business.

It was 2008 and Querickiol-Niggel’s venture to penetrate the export market was slowly bearing fruit when Don Bosco Technological Center (DBTC), a technical-vocational school, entered into a joint weaving project with the German Development Service (DED), furniture exporter Dedon and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

“Dedon wanted the Cebuanos to continue the art of weaving since this is one of the skills unique to us. Dedon provided us some scrap plastic fiber material (normally used in making their outdoor furniture), DED gave us the fund, Don Bosco provided the manpower and my company was responsible for the marketing aspect,” says Querickiol-Niggel, president of Gracie Q Creative Designs.

She then proceeded to develop something out of the plastic fiber.

The first that came to her mind was the Cebuano’s unique way of cooking rice locally known as puso (hanging rice), where rice grains are placed inside woven coconut palm strips and boiled in water.

“I thought it was a good way of utilizing the weaving skills of the students, save the environment by using the scrap materials and creating something which is very Cebuano,” she says.

In September 2008, the first batch of puso necklace, earrings and key chains were displayed in her humble showroom inside the DBTC campus.

To her, the age of the puso accessories has begun.

Gaining publicity became the next hurdle for Querickiol-Niggel and her young workers.

“There has to be a way for the puso (accessories) to get the attention of the public because we cannot sustain the project of helping more out-of-school youths if we will not earn.”

She began by bringing samples of the accessories to seminars and conferences that she attended where fellow participants have grown amused at how the plastic fiber was mixed with stones and coconut shells to create artistic pieces.

She was also given the opportunity to share her story of building her company through Inquirer’s sister paper, Cebu Daily News, in a January 2009 issue.

“The curiosity about the puso accessories started there and we started getting inquiries.”

In one conference last December 2009, which her friend organized, she met Marissa Aboitiz who became her partner in discussing challenges encountered by non-government organizations (NGOs) in sustaining their advocacies.

“I was the lone entrepreneur during that conference because all of them represented NGOs. I shared to them what I was doing with Don Bosco and gave them samples of the puso accessories,” she shares.

The conference became very instrumental in spreading the word about the puso accessories further.

With Aboitiz, who comes from a prominent and well-respected family in Cebu, wearing a puso necklace during the conference, inquiries and orders about the accessories came through phone calls, text messages and e-mails, Querickiol-Niggel says.

Cebuanos started ordering puso pieces to send to their relatives in Europe, Turkey, Germany and Italy. She says the dream of spreading “puso artistry’ to the world was gaining good momentum.

Since then, Gracie Q Creative Designs has been producing puso-inspired pieces that have extended beyond necklaces and earrings. They have expanded into puso bouquets and puso trophies for the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to few—of course, still utilizing the expert hands of the young people and the plastic fiber from Dedon.

In their recent participation in the One Cebu Fair at the Cebu International Convention Center, they have received suggestions on creating puso bags and puso purses.

This endeavor of reaching out to young people by providing them employment has enabled her to develop more creative pieces which, she says, should be at par with the creativity that the puso accessories espouse.

“We are very open to (develop) anything as long as it will help more young people because we are all very committed in preserving and spreading Cebuano culture with what we are doing. The good thing about this is the fact that we are sustaining our advocacy because we are earning.”

“It really makes good business sense to help other people especially that you are sustaining it. That is why it is not really hard to solicit support from people and encourage the youth to continue exerting their best efforts,” adds Querickiol-Niggel.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Islands foundation organizes ‘Zero Waste in Seas’ project

Islands foundation organizes ‘Zero Waste in Seas’ project
Cebu Daily News
September 18, 2010

With the success of its first cleanup activity and to further promote environmental protection, The Islands Group, through the Our Islands Foundation, is organizing its second “Zero Waste in Seas: An underwater and coastal cleanup project” in Lapu-Lapu, City.

It is a two-day event that kicked off yesterday with an underwater cleanup at Punta West and will end today with a coastal cleanup in sitio Saac, barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City.

The cleanup activity is the foundation’s contribution to the observance of the International Coastal Cleanup, which is done worldwide every September.

This undertaking is in partnership with environmentally-conscious organizations such as Ocean Care Advocates Inc., Bigfoot Studios Inc., Cebu Yacht Club and AquaDive Inc.

It is sponsored by Thirsty, Worldwide Dive and Sail, Feel Deep, Ipanema, Envirosax, Ocean Potion, Grendha, Rider and the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

The underwater and coastal cleanup activities will be participated in by several volunteers advocating towards saving Mother Earth.

Coastal Cleanup Widened

Coastal Cleanup Widened
Manila Bulletin - Visayas Newsbits
September 18, 2010

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu – Following the success of its first coastal cleanup drive, the Cebu’s Islands Group has widened its campaign by inviting more volunteers to join the activity, particularly as it jives in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup celebration.  Chai Apale, Islands Groups Executive Officer for Corporate Social Projects said that the two day cleanup drive, done underwater and along the shores of this city’s barangay Mactan last September 17 and 18 is their way of promoting environment protection. Dubbed “Zero Waste in Seas: An Underwater Cleanup Project” saw some 50 volunteer divers netting 25 kilos of waste underwater. Such waste consisted mostly of non-biodegradable materials like plastic bottles, wrappers, and bags, among others. Also, to widen the campaign, the Islands Group has partnered with other environment-conscious organizations like Ocean Care Advocates Inc., Bigfoot Studios Inc., Cebu Yacht Club, Worldwide Dive and Sail, Feel Deep, Ipanema, Envirosax, Ocean Potion, Grendha, Rider and the Philippine Business for Social Progress. (Phoebe Jen Indino)

ILOILO CITY (PNA) – The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) here has detailed measures preventing defects in newly completed road concreting projects even if construction of the latter were effected through correct construction methods and the use of quality materials. DPWH Regional Director Rolando Asis said that based on study and investigations, deficiencies are caused by the absence of pavement design analysis; lack of soil investigation prior to design and plan preparation; uncontrolled passing of overloaded trucks and non-inclusion of subsidiary works such as slope protection work and drainage facilities. To address the problem, Asis ordered all district engineers to see to it that detailed engineering and soil investigation are conducted regardless if the road project is already existing or still ongoing construction.

LAUA-AN, Antique – Two elementary school pupils died of drowning while three others were reported missing when a hanging bridge collapsed in Laua-an town in Antique, police reported last week. The two fatalities were identified as Juvy Espino, an 11-year old Grade IV student and Nellybeth Aretano, 14 years old and reportedly a Grade VI student. Both were Barangay Santiago Elementary School students. Meanwhile, local police and rescue teams conducted search and rescue missions for three other students missing identified as Risa Aretano, 13; Keith Manuel, 11; and, Margie Demetrio, 10. Authorities say the three “are still missing as of this report and search-and-rescue operations are still going on.”  The victims were reportedly on their way home from school when the hanging bridge they were crossing collapsed due to strong water current of the river flow which was spawned by heavy rains. “The incident caused the bridge to collapse which sent five children falling to the river and were carried away downstream,” the report read. The bridge, the report stated, was made of bamboo with steel bar support. Police said the land portion where the steel bars were resting caved in as a result of sudden strong river current and rising waters. (Aaron Recuenco)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cebu to join EarthDance festival

Cebu to join EarthDance festival 
Cebu Daily News
September 17, 2010

Cebu will join for the first time the EarthDance Festival 2010 on Sept. 18 and 19 at the Family Park in Talamban, Cebu City.

The festival will start with a bicycle rally on Saturday at 8 a.m. from Ayala Mall to Family Park, where the program proper will be held around 9 a.m.

Cebu is among the over 300 locations worldwide participating this year’s festival for peace and the environment.

The 32-hour event will highlight a synchronized Prayer for Peace on Sept. 19 at 7 a.m.

EarthDance Festival is aligned with the observance of International Day of Peace on Sept. 21. It has been celebrated every year in Manila since 2008.

Jagat Rubio, one of the organizers, said the event will be the third time to be held in Manila, but the first in Cebu.

The Cebu EarthDance will feature the launching of a new alliance of environmental non-government organizations (NGOs) and the Green Light Guide to Maharlika Philippines.

The general public is invited to join the activities at the Family Park, including free children’s art workshops and children’s yoga sessions.

The Metropolitan Cebu Water District, which runs the Family Park, is offering free entrance for the two-day event, except for the dance party on Saturday night that requires a ticket.

Each ticket is worth P75 for non-students and P50 for students.

Tickets are available at Kukuk’s Nest in Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City and at the Community Extension Services and Development - Civic Welfare Training Service office at the UC Main campus.

EarthDance Cebu 2010 is held in partnership with the Cebu City Council, University of Cebu (UC) and Bigfoot Studios.

EarthDance started in 1996 with a vision to unite the whole world in peace through the universal platform of culture, art, dance and music.

At present, EarthDance is the largest global synchronized music and peace event in the world.

“The concept of a city holding its own annual Earth Summit is sure to catch international attention. We will remind the world that it was here in Cebu City that we first showed the way,” Geoff “JahFe” Holland, EarthDance Cebu Festival director, said. /STC Masscom student Tweeny Malinao

Cebu City to host Earth Summit this weekend

Cebu City to host Earth Summit this weekend
The Freeman
September 17, 2010

Cebu, Philippines – Non-government organizations, government agencies, local government units, businesses and universities will gather in Cebu City this weekend for the Cebu Earth Summit.

The Earthdance Cebu 2010 website said it will be the first time, not only in the Philippines, but internationally, that a city held its own Earth Summit, which is slated on Saturday and Sunday at the Family Park in Barangay Talamban.

The summit will form part of the "EarthDance Festival," which is celebrated in more than 300 locations in over 50 cities worldwide. As part of the EarthDance celebra-tions, organizers are also holding a two-day Earth Summit.

"The Cebu Earth Summit will be the largest convergence of environmental, sustainable community development, renewable energy and organic farming NGOs, along with the government agencies, green businesses and universities that Cebu has ever seen," said Geoff Holland, the director of the festival, in a press release posted at the EarthDance Cebu 2010 website.

People who would come to witness the event would be treated to an array of performances, exhibits, seminars, films and workshops. There will be free children's arts workshops as well as children's yoga sessions.

"The concept of a city holding its own annual Earth Summit is sure to catch on internationally. But we will remind the world that it was here in Cebu City that we first showed the way," Holland said.

Early Saturday morning, Mayor Michael Rama will lead the Bicycle Rally from Ayala Mall to the Family Park where he will officially open the program for the Earth Summit activities.

The entry fee to Family Park has been waived so EarthDance Cebu 2010/Cebu Earth Summit has free admission.

For more information on the Cebu Earth Summit, interested parties may visit http://jagatrubio.com/earthdancecebu. - WAB

‘Text War’ vs Disasters Launched

‘Text War’ vs Disasters Launched
Manila Bulletin
September 17, 2010

MAASIN CITY (PNA) – A P9.5-million disaster-reduction project, funded by the World Bank, will benefit nine coastal municipalities and this Southern Leyte city through web-powered and cell phone-based text messages which would act as an early-warning system against any tsunami, quake tremor, flood or mudslide, storm surge, or typhoon.

Southern Leyte Gov. Damian G. Mercado said the 10 beneficiaries include this city and the towns of Libagon, Malitbog, San Francisco, Hinunangan, Liloan, Anahawan, Pintuyan, San Ricardo, and Tomas Oppus.

The US$200,000 project using Short Messaging Service (SMS) in mobile phones is a joint undertaking of the World Bank, SMART Communications as service provider of the cellular technology, the provincial government of Southern Leyte, and the Philippines Business for Social Progress (PBSP), a corporate advocacy and project management group.

In a press conference after the project launch on Tuesday, SMART public affairs manager Ramon Isberto said the project aims to beef up the capacity of the Provincial Disaster Management Office (PDMO) of Southern Leyte in helping the respective municipal disaster coordinating councils and emergency response teams to perform their functions on disaster preparedness and response.

PBSP executive director Rafael C. Lopa revealed that the proposal for the project, called “Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte through SMS Technology,” first won in the 2009 World Bank Development Marketplace as it aimed to assist the Southern Leyte PDMO in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation.

As stated in the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) that the four partners signed at the provincial capitol here during the project launch, PBSP reportedly got a grant covering the costs of the development and installation of the system, the training of system users at the Southern Leyte PDMO and in the municipalities and barangays, the conduct of community education on climate change, and the planning for multiple hazards.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Groups seek dialogue with Aquino on medium-term economic goals

Groups seek dialogue with Aquino on medium-term economic goals
By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 14, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Instead of "mere token consultations," civil society groups have asked the Aquino administration to involve them in a "genuine dialogue" as it drafts the government's next economic blueprint, the Medium-Term Development Plan for 2011-2016.

The process "should be opened for people's participation," asserted Freedom from Debt Coalition secretary general Milo Tanchuling.

At the same time, Tanchuling asked the National Economic and Development Agency (NEDA) to "live up to the administration's promise of becoming a government that listens and consults its citizens, beginning with the crafting of its medium-term plan."

Along with the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) and the United Nations Civil Society Advisory Council (UN-CSAC), the FDC made public on Tuesday what they called the "Citizens' Roadmap for Change" with the aim to reduce poverty and meet the country's Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.

"The roadmap was crafted with the participation of more than 100 civil society representatives from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao," said CODE-NGO, FDC, and UN-CSAC in a statement.

During simple rites in a Pasig City hotel, leaders of the civil society groups presented the roadmap to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, who represented President Aquino in the event, and NEDA Assistant Director Cleofe Pastrana.

Both Soliman and Pastrana committed to include citizens' participation in the crafting of the next Medium-Term Development Plan.

The MDGs are eight specific and time-bound goals that heads of governments from 189 worldwide committed to achieve by 2015.

These goals are ending poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, fighting HIV-AIDS, malaria and other killer diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development.

CODE-NGO executive director Sixto Donato Macasaet said, "With only five years left to the 2015 deadline, there is an urgent need to fast-track the achievement of our MDGs."

"President Aquino cannot have as a legacy the failure to attain these goals," said Macasaet as he also noted the country has been lagging behind in some of its MDG targets.

In their "Roadmap for Change," civil society groups highlighted the non-government sector's key policy recommendations:

* Repeal of Section 31-B of Presidential Decree 1177 and Section 26-B of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 which call for automatic appropriations for debt service.

* Automatic appropriations for education, health, and housing, equivalent to 6 percent, 5 percent and 5 percent of GNP, respectively.

* Promoting the use of "mother tongue-based education" and the setting-up of a pre-school system in all public and private schools nationwide by school year 2015-2016.

* On the macro-economy, the inclusion of equality targets on top of growth targets to guide an asset reform program and a rational population policy.

* Mandating all government agencies to be transparent in their operations, including the procurement and bidding processes.

* Increased PhilHealth coverage for the poor and encourage the "return migration" of health professionals.

* Honest-to-goodness implementation of the laws on agrarian reform, urban land reform, fisheries reform, and ancestral domain.

Civil society groups also recommended the following measures: enactment of the controversial reproductive health bill; full implementation of the Magna Carta for Women; provision of National Food Authority rice subsidies to poor farmers; strict enforcement of environmental laws; declaring a moratorium on large-scale mining; adding two more years to the public education system; effective implementation of the cheap medicines law; and enactment of a law on the setting up of a national peace policy.

During an earlier tri-sectoral conference, CODE-NGO, FDC, and UN-CSAC presented their proposals to top officials of the departments of budget, labor and employment, agrarian reform, and environment and natural resources.

CODE-NGO groups, among others, the Association of Foundations, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks, National Confederation of Cooperatives, Central Visayas Network of NGOs and POs, Coalition for Bicol Development, and the Cordillera Network of Development NGOs and POs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Believe: The Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2010

Believe: The Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2010
Business World Online
September 13, 2010

Entrepreneurs possess the creativity, vision and courage to build ventures that invigorate the business environment. They initiate change with their natural eye for business, and in the case of social entrepreneurs, through innovative solutions that address society’s most pressing issues.

The seventh year search for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines yielded individuals whose inspirational stories are a testament to the growing number of people who strive to create positive change in society. Each participant who qualified for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 may serve as an exceptional role model for Filipino entrepreneurs.

This year’s finalists come from all over the country, covering an array of industries including agriculture, publishing, consumer products, food, education, construction, and retail. Their businesses flourish from inspired ideas nurtured by perseverance and hard work.

One of our finalists is a developmental educator who brought a fresh approach to teaching and learning. Another is a young man who diversified his family’s construction business into a more profitable venture. One finalist began selling on the sidewalks but now runs a supermarket and distribution chain. Another entrepreneur is bridging the gap between print and digital media.

A pair of finalists works to give microentrepreneurs access to networks needed to grow their businesses. The business of one finalists started with a capital of only P10. We also have a finalist whose innovations have created a niche market with its seed-to-shelf coverage of agricultural products. An Industrial Engineering graduate used his background and leveraged on technology to successfully grow his business.

Two finalists are each making their mark in the pharmaceutical retail industry. There is a finalist who started as a career diplomat and now heads a multifaceted communications agency. One finalist has opened doors for Filipinos to have more access to luxury retail products. Another is attuned to the changing customer style preferences of the fashion retail business.

One entrepreneur is building decent communities for the marginalized. One individual’s efficiency and foresight allows him to be a successful player in the volatile construction industry. Another entrepreneur’s drive has made his business one of the fastest-growing fast food chains in the Philippines. One finalist is setting new standards for the hospitality industry with a slew of establishments. Another finalist is helping agricultural cooperatives access the export market directly.

All of them are inspiring individuals whose vision, leadership and achievements demonstrate the potential of every entrepreneur to become a market leader and an agent of change.

Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 was launched in March with the theme, "Believe." To believe is at the core of every entrepreneur -- to believe in a dream; to believe in every opportunity; and to believe in the future. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 program encourages entrepreneurial activity by recognizing the inspiring dedication, brilliance and dauntless spirit of our Filipino entrepreneurs who believe that through their enterprises they can help uplift the lives of others.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines program is assessed yearly in terms of its categories, nominees, finalists, and winners’ profiles in tandem with recent changes in the business environment. All nominees were screened using a system developed by Entrepreneur Of The Year in the United States and used in all countries that participate in the program.

Qualified nominees were interviewed and given the chance to submit additional information as necessary. The list was further trimmed to determine the finalists. An independent panel of judges will select the winners from among the finalists. The overall winner of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2010 will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2011.

"Through the years, our program has honored many inspiring entrepreneurs who have established and sustained businesses in an increasingly competitive and global business environment. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines salutes these entrepreneurs who have the courage to believe in themselves, their business, and in our country," said Vic Noel, vice-chairman of the SGV Foundation, Inc.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year program was developed in the United States in 1986 by professional services firm Ernst & Young. Through the program, successful entrepreneurs can come forward and tell their inspiring stories to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit in others. In 2001, Ernst & Young expanded the program and launched the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

The SGV Foundation launched the program locally in 2003 and presented its very first Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines award to Jollibee Foods Corporation President and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong, who went on to win as World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Book Store, was next named Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines in 2004, followed by Lance Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc. in 2005; Senen Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc. in 2006; Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr. of Alaska Milk Corporation in 2007; and Amb. Jesus P. Tambunting of Planters Development Bank in 2009.

The 2010 search for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is conducted with the participation of De La Salle University, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Stock Exchange, and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Program sponsor is SAP Philippines, Inc. Official airline is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Beginning Sept. 15, BusinessWorld will be featuring each finalist and their individual stories of how they have been change agents in their communities, merging excellent business acumen with insights into the evolving needs of the market, and who have dared to turn their visions into business realities.

The results of the Entrepreneur Of The Year will be known on October 12, 2010 at a formal awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.