A haven for homegrown entrepreneurs
- Cheeko B. Ruiz (The Philippine Star) - July 23, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The franchising industry is clearly making its mark in the Philippines, as seen with the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. (AFFI) which now has 92 members from the original eight entrepreneurs who put up the group in 1997.

Armando Bartolome, AFFI president, said the growth in the Philippine franchising industry is estimated to be at 20 percent every year.

About 1800 companies in the Philippines are engaged in franchising, from a mere handful in 1995, but this is still composed of 60 percent food and 40 percent services. But the service sector is growing, according to Bartolome.

“In AFFI’s case, some of our members have even gone global. One of our members, Potato Corner, which established its business in the United States in 2010 now has 18 stores there,” said Bartolome, who heads the GMB Franchise Developers.

Teresa Laurel, owner of Goto King and AFFI’s chairman of the board, meanwhile, stressed the importance of small and medium enterprises.

“In other countries, small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the economy,” Laurel said.

AFFI, which is now on its fifteenth year, aims to help small, homegrown entrepreneurs by giving them better representation and networking.

“We are a spin-off of the Philippine Franchising Association. We started AFFI because we wanted to help each of us small, homegrown entrepreneurs. Initially we put up the First Filipino Franchise Federation (F4). But since we were not a federation yet, we changed it into an association. Not even all of us were franchisors. Some of us did not have franchises at that time,” Laurel said.

“It was just social networking at first before we became an association,” added Bartolome. “But we’re not bent on just getting more members, we scrutinize applicants. We look for commitment, more than having the necessary documents.”

Bartolome said AFFI holds almost weekly seminars on various topics such as how franchisors and franchisees can protect their rights.

The group has also established chapters in Davao and Dagupan.

“We also want to bring in local brands to Manila and not just the other way around,” said Bartolome.

Bong Magpayo, AFFI director for Mindanao and owner of Sweet Corner, a corn cart franchising business, calls on aspiring businessmen to try franchising which has 90 percent success rate.

“Also, the developmental cost in putting up a product will removed since the product is already established,” he said.

Laurel said for her, the most important element for a business to reach its highest peak is planning.

“Sipag at tiyaga (hard work and perseverance) won’t last you, everything changes. When your business grows, there comes a point that these won’t be enough. In Goto King’s 28 years in the industry, I have learned that it’s more on using your brain, more on planning,” she said, citing the strategy of expanding businesses and networking.

“At times companies fail to plan. But we must always remember that the moment we get tired of thinking of new concepts, of motivating our people, then this will be the end of our businesses,” she said.

AFFI is encouraging the public to participate in the 11th Filipino Franchise Show that it will stage at the World Trade Center in Pasay City from Oct. 12-14. The exhibit, with the theme “Galing ng Pinoy,” will feature a wide array of Filipino products and services.

Incidentally, the group is also coming up with a book, “AFFI Through the Years,” a follow-up to their first book “Introduction to Entrepreneurship: Story of our Lives.”

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