Friday, April 12, 2013

Turning hanapbuhay into hanep-buhay

For eight years now, Go Negosyo has been helping Filipinos succeed from poverty through entrepreneurship. We are happy because we are seeing significant progress throughout the years, but our journey of transforming the nation was not easy. Changing the Filipino’s mindset about negosyo an keeping an enterprising attitude has been a constant challenge, but along the way we have met people and institutions who also believe in the advocacy and are willing to help us out.

What started as a simple meeting with Cynthia Villar more than four years ago led to a discovery that Go Negosyo and her Villar Foundation have a common purpose: to help uplift the lives of Filipinos. We thought that it is best for our organizations to work together on projects that would directly inspire and empower our countrymen. It resulted in a number of collaborations which eventually led to the OFW and Family Summit, a one-day activity that teaches OFWs and their family members to invest their hard-earned money in a business of their own. I can still remember our amazement at the turnout of the participants, as more than 7,000 people showed up and filled the World Trade Center during our first summit in 2011. Of course, this was a signal for both Cynthia and I to continue what we are doing, and right now we are working on mounting the third summit in November.

Now that Cynthia is running in the coming elections, her main platform is to continue encouraging the nation to embrace entrepreneurship as a means to move up. She is hoping that more Filipinos would become successful in life, and she felt that our aspiring negosyantes might need more support from the government, especially from the legislative department. Let me share with you her thoughts.

Entrepreneurship creates jobs. Do you think this is a very good alternative to the OFW phenomenon?
If we can turn our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families into entrepreneurs then there is no need for them to work abroad. That is the intent of our yearly OFW and Family Summit. Every November, we provide a venue for OFWs and their families to scout for business opportunities where they can use or invest their hard-earned money or savings. We also help them to get into the entrepreneurial mindset and provide business tips by inviting resource persons and motivational speakers.

What are your platforms to support job generation through entrepreneurship?
 I support entrepreneurship as the key to creating jobs. Even my livelihood programs are geared towards helping people gain the skills to start their own small businesses. I will support legislations that will help micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and give government incentives to manufacturing and other labor-intensive industries that will generate employment or jobs for our people. The economy is doing great and the market is liquid. Thus, we can also urge the banking industry to channel funds for entrepreneurial ventures.
As a congresswoman, I led the passage of bills that benefited entrepreneurs, among which was the Magna Carta of Micro-Enterprises and Republic Act 9178 or the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises (BMBEs) Act. Majority of entrepreneurial start-ups are micro, small and medium enterprises or SMEs. So if we support them, it will pave the way for an entrepreneurial revolution which is of course good for the people themselves and the country’s economy.

The key to the growth of entrepreneurship is the expanding network of enterprises it generates. How do you think the government can help Go Negosyo or other entrepreneur-friendly NGOs champion the success formula of entrepreneurship further?
The government can support entrepreneurs in capital, incentives and training needed by people who want to become entrepreneurs or to put up their own businesses. The country’s economy is picking up and this is the perfect time to encourage not only more investments, but for new and start-up businesses to flourish. Foreign investments, coupled with a thriving local business scene, will bring about a more lasting growth and development for the country. I also hope to review the incentives that government provides investors and businesses, especially entrepreneurial ventures.

What do you think are the changes that we need to adopt to make our education more oriented towards promoting entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship should be integrated in the school curricula from elementary until college. This will set the stage for students to get into the entrepreneurial mindset. We notice that students think that the only option available for them when they graduate is to get employed or land a job, when in fact they can be an entrepreneur. They can choose to be a job creator, instead of being a jobseeker.
There should be a shift in the general mindset of our people. We should collectively make conscious efforts to bring about this shift in mindset. The media can help significantly in these efforts. We can make entrepreneurship look ‘cool’ to the young people. We can make entrepreneurship as ‘the great Filipino dream’ that young Filipinos should aspire to become.
One of the things that hamper the growth of entrepreneurship is corruption and red tape in the local government levels. How do you think we can solve this problem?
There should be transparency in government dealings and transactions to deter anomalous deals and prevent graft and corruption. At the same time, we should simplify the procedures and processes such as in starting a business and securing permits. The more complicated they are, the more bureaucratic red tape there is.


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