Who will be the next Entrepreneur of the Year?
Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) Philippines 2017 winner Natividad Cheng (second from left) with (from left) former Prime Minister Cesar Virata, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion and SGV & Co. chairman J. Carlitos Cruz.
Who will be the next Entrepreneur of the Year?
THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — In 1986, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) awards program was established by Ernst & Young in the US to recognize outstanding entrepreneurs whose creativity and steadfastness have resulted in successful and dynamic enterprises. In 2001, the program was expanded with EOY winners from participating countries vying for the ultimate honor of being recognized as the World Entrepreneur of the Year (WEOY).

In 2003, the SGV Foundation launched the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines award to honor the dynamism of Filipino entrepreneurs in creating and operating sustainable and flourishing businesses that influence the way people live, transforming local communities and supporting the economy in the process.

SGV senior director Maria Luz Balmaceda with Richprime Global Inc.’s Myrna Tang-Yao and Jane Yao-Tiu.

The very first winner of the EOY Philippines was Jollibee Foods Corp.’s Tony Tan Caktiong, who went on to win the 2004 WEOY award in Monaco, which has since become the venue for the global awards program. Other past EOY Philippines awardees include such well-known and respected names as Socorro “Nanay Coring” Ramos, who founded National Book Store; Lance Gokongwei of Cebu Air; Alaska Milk president and CEO Wilfred Uytengsu; Erramon Aboitiz of Aboitiz Power; and my good friend Ambassador Jesus “Chuching” Tambunting who is the chairman and president of Planters Development Bank.

The SGV Foundation recently announced the start of the nomination period for the EOY Philippines 2019, whose theme “Disrupt. Transform. Inspire!” encapsulates “the power of a single idea that can spark a revolution, create new possibilities, or even change the world.”

Present during the launch of EOY Philippine 2019 are (seated) BusinessWorld’s Roberto Alampay, ABS-CBN News Channel’s Cilette Liboro-Co and J. Carlitos Cruz; (standing, from left) Generika Drugstore’s Teodoro Ferrer, Fiesta Communities’ Wilfredo Tan, Multiflex RNC Philippines’ Natividad Cheng, Lots’A Pizza’s Teresita Ngan Tian, the Philippine Stock Exchange’s Jose Antonio Villar and Ramon Monzon, Myrna Yao and i-Remit Inc.’s Bansan Choa.

Gracing the event held at the Washington SyCip Development Center in Makati City were former finalists and winners led by Multiflex RNC Philippines CEO Natividad Cheng, who was the 2017 EOY Philippines winner, the latest in the distinguished roster of EOY Philippines awardees.

At 73, Mrs. Cheng’s success story is inspiring. Growing up in a big family with nine siblings who all had to sleep on the hard floor, Cheng — who only finished high school — resolved to work hard for a better life. It was while working in a low-paying job in a factory that she met her husband Robert. In 1968, they decided to use their savings to start a business trading in furniture and bedding supplies.

Jollibee’s Tony Tan Caktiong, the first EOY Philippines winner in 2003 who also won the World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004.

But just as things were starting to look up, tragedy struck when fire hit their warehouse. Undeterred, the couple took out a loan, but Robert’s death in 2003 had many wondering if the business was done for. But she proved to be equal to the task, saying in the vernacular, “Filipinos never give up and will not stop until they reach their objective.”

Winning the award in 2017 when she was 71, and going to Monte Carlo for the WEOY 2018, was “priceless. I found many things in common with the entrepreneurs in the world — struggles in our history challenges in running our business, keeping up with the fast changes,” she relates.

Since its launch in 2003, EOY Philippines has become one of the most prestigious awards programs in the local business community, recognizing outstanding Filipino entrepreneurs who are determined, thriving in the “age of disruption,” leading businesses that have the potential to inspire and empower communities and uplift the nation.

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