One of the solutions to alleviate poverty is through entrepreneurship. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is crucial to the Philippine economy as it accounts to 99.7 % of country’s businesses and is the backbone of our progress. 70% of our workforce is employed by MSMEs and generates local activity in the countryside. Every Filipino has an option either to be employed or to go into business. You do not have to be big and wealthy to go into business as a sari-sari store or a barbeque stall business can be a very good start-up for would be entrepreneurs. A micro enterprise is defined by DTI as any business with a capitalization of not more that 3M, i would rather define it differently as asset sizes of micro enterprises that i have seen are capitalized below 100,000. The size of the business is commensurate to how much risk you can take and how much capital you can generate. What is important is that it can provide for your needs and can add value to the community. And by adding value, you have to take the risk and be passionate with what you do. A business is only successful if the entrepreneur really loves what he or she is doing. The entrepreneur displays undeniable passion which makes him/her resilient to any adverse internal or external conditions. With passion, the entrepreneur will not count the number of hours spent in the business (as they say, it is a 25/8 work schedule), will continue to learn and likewise, will strive for success and excellence.
Over the years that i have been in business, I have met several extraordinary business people, big or small, and there is one thing in common – they are all determined to succeed. In my personal experience, business is not easy and most business people are not equipped with the basic management and business background. As a matter of fact, a lot of them have not even finished college. You take the case of Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook who were college drop-outs, but have managed to build the most desirable and biggest businesses in the world. We have micro entrepreneurs in the countryside who have not even finished high school and have nurtured their businesses learning from the school of “Hard Knox”.
My true inspiration as a businessman comes from the micro entrepreneurs who have nurtured their individual businesses in the countryside. There is Ms. Lorna Cahiyang of Pilar, Camotes who have produced the ginamos paste or “Pate de Pilar”* in collaboration with the students of the Benedicto College as part of their participation in the Obra Negosyo Eskuwela – Countryside Business Upliftment Enterprise (ONE-CEBU) program. A joint effort between the Province of Cebu, the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) and the different participating colleges and universities of Cebu. There is also Lorna Dy of Sogod, Cebu who produces tableya. Her story is very inspirational as she has been doing this for more than 30 years surviving her family and would stay up to 4 am to make 7,000 pieces of Tableya to be sold at .60 cents per piece. Her business is an entry to the 2nd season of the ONE-CEBU. So many other business in Cebu like the Camote cookies of Aloguinsan*, the pickled vegetables in Dalaguete, the coco palm sugar of Argao* who have one way or the other championed their causes and has provided livelihood to many and likewise inspired other entrepreneurs as well.
I have come to collaborate also with the farmers of Davao through a local entrepreneur/roaster who have started selling premium Robusta beans grown on the foothills of Mt. Apo*. There are also students who have started their own businesses and beginning to create brands of their own. Some may come from affluent families but they are determined to create a name of their own. In Global Power Skills Development Center, Inc., a training and assessment center, i founded some years back have produced graduates of the different TESDA accredited courses like commercial cooking that have started their own restaurant or “carenderia” business.
Though employment is an easy way to earn income but going to business is also a more dynamic way of earning income and at the same time, adding value to our community. It has been proven that if you take the risk, you can make it. It may not be for everybody but surely it is an option.
* products are sold in some Coffee Dream stores