‘We focus on entrepreneurship because we need to, in order to develop our country,’ Senator Bam Aquino tells students at the Youth Entrepreneurship Boot Camp
MANILA, Philippines – “Entrepreneurship is the definite way we can support our country forward.”
This was the key message of Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV at the opening of the Youth Entrepreneurship Boot Camp (YEBC) on Wednesday, March 22.
Speaking to business majors from various universities, Aquino emphasized the need to support both formal and informal economies to create inclusive growth.
“Some 96% of all our businesses are micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). They deserve the support they need. They are the backbone of our economy,” Aquino noted.
The senator, who has championed key legislation for entrepreneurship including the Go Negosyo Act of 2014 and the Youth Entrepreneurship Act of 2015, gave examples of how entrepreneurial ventures transformed communities.
He cited the Purple Passion Jams, a social enterprise which helped Ube farmers in Davao City create a sustainable and marketable product for their produce. The farmers started with 3 hectares of land for ube farming. Now they manage 45 hectares.
“We focus on entrepreneurship because we need to, in order to develop our country,” Aquino said.
He also spoke about the Kalasag Farmers of Nueva Ecija. The community was chosen by Jollibee Foundation to supply onions to their chain. During the first few years, the community had a difficult time fulfilling the orders of the company, but after constant training and the creation of a cooperative, they were able to supply the fast-food chain regularly.
“Now, they supply 480 metric tons of onions to Jollibee. This remains a gold standard of how big companies can create inclusive supply chains. What I like about this is that it is not a simple dole out program,” Aquino told the business students.
Learning from experts
YEBC was organized by Philippine Tax Whiz Raymond Abrea as part of his project for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). According to Abrea, the program hopes to inspire more young Filipinos to start businesses instead of them leaving the country to find opportunities abroad. (WATCH: Using technology to push for tax reform)
“I thought of youth migration as an obvious issue among the youth. Rather than complaining about the lack of opportunity, why don’t we see ourselves as drivers and movers in providing this opportunity through entrepreneurship,” Abrea told Rappler.
A mentoring program will be launched after the YEBC, where aspiring entrepreneurs will have the chance to learn from leading businessmen and experts in the field.
“We will be matching them. If I have a business and you are interested in my business or industry, after 1 year, we should be proud to say that you started your own business out of my assistance as your mentor,” Abrea added.
World-renowned industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue also gave 4 tips to the participants on how to be successful entrepreneurs.
“In the upper market, we are the only Filipino global brand. We’re always fighting the prejudice that just because we’re from the Philippines, they don’t expect that we can have a luxury brand,” Cobonpue said.
Integrity Leaders awarded
Meanwhile, 6 people and their businesses were given the Integrity Leader Awards (ILA) for their integrity in their respective industries.
“Initially, the ILA is for graduating business students because we want to promote integrity and we want to make sure that the next business leaders would really focus on it,” Abrea told Rappler.
He added: “But as per the recommendation of the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, we awarded the successful ones who are also embodying integrity and leadership in their respective industries. Specifically, the ones who can really be within the reach of the next generation.”
The following were given the ILA for 2017:
- Kenneth Cobonpue
- Patch Dulay of The Spark Project
- Jose Paolo Sarmiento
- Shawntel Nieto & Maria Flores of Big Mike Bike Solutions
- Jose Carlo Martinez
‘We are here for you’
Senator Aquino reiterated the need for government to continue supporting young and aspiring entrepreneurs to reach their goals.
“If we’re able to provide better support systems, we will have entrepreneurs who are more successful. This, in turn, will provide more employment,” he noted.
The senator said that there are already more than 400 Negosyo Centers that have assisted more than 700,000 entrepreneurs because of the Go Negosyo Act.
“We’re here to help you,” Aquino told the aspiring entrepreneurs.
For Abrea, the YEBC is just the beginning of a year-long engagement. “We want them not just to be inspired but we want them to be challenged. We want the next feature or story to be their story.”
This article was originally published on Rappler.