These women entreps are stars
TAGUMPAY - Joey Concepcion () - February 14, 2011 - 12:00am

People always think that managing a business is a man’s job. Many Filipinos still think that women should stay at home and just take care of the children. But I know for a fact that this is a big misconception as I have met a lot of women who are very successful in different fields. This is the reason why every year, Go Negosyo seeks to recognize these inspiring “womenpreneurs” or women entrepreneurs to prove that negosyo is for everyone, and that women are successful negosyantes. Let me share with you the stories of some of the women behind the biggest businesses in the Philippines.

Rustan’s Commercial Corporation is a pioneer in the fashion-retailing industry in the Philippines, and the person leading the company to success is Zenaida “Nedy” Tantoco. She took over as president of Rustan’s Commercial Corporation and followed in the footsteps of her mother, the late Glecy Tantoco, who founded the company in the 1970s. Nedy credits her success to her mother, who trained her and her siblings on how to run the family business. It was her mother who also encouraged them to take things to the next level wherever they could improve.

Excellence, not just luxury, is the reason why Rustan’s has maintained its position in the industry. Nedy believes in giving the people the best that they deserve, be it products or services. Just like her mother, Nedy takes time to share what she knows with her staff and encourages them to not just look out for their business but to extend genuine concern for others as well.

Beauty has always been the passion of Dr. Vicki Belo, and for the past 20 years she has proved that it’s also good business. Vicki opened her first clinic at the Makati Medical Center, and soon her business grew to what is now the Belo Medical Group, with nine branches all over Metro Manila and one in Cebu.

Dr. Vicki Belo of the Belo Medical Group

Apart from having an eye for beauty, Vicki also saw the potential to further improve and expand her business. With the intention of sharing the gift of beauty with more Filipinos, Vicki came up with more affordable services and introduced a skincare line that caters to the mass market. It’s not just the stars who love Vicki; Filipinos from all walks of life have embraced her simply because she will not recommend anything she hasn’t tried herself. It’s one of the reasons why she is one of the admired names in business here in the Philippines.

For those who are young at heart, Myrna Yao, the founder and CEO of Richwell Trading, has the best job in the world. She is the woman behind the company that brings a wide range of toys and children’s products here in the Philippines. Some of her famous toys are Barbie, Matchbox and Hot Wheels. Just like most entrepreneurs, Myrna tried many businesses including selling blouses, plates and tires before finding the one she is truly passionate about.

Her advice to entrepreneurs is to try different things and never be afraid to take risks. She also encourages negosyantes to see hardships and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as entrepreneurs.

Speaking of stereotypes, it is quite unusual to think of a woman as being passionate about cars, but Elizabeth Lee of Universal Motors Corporation is definitely an exception. Elizabeth, the executive vice president of Universal Motors, is in charge of steering one of the largest automotive companies in the country to its peak. Under her guidance, UMC’s Nissan Frontier became the best-selling pickup truck in the Philippines for four years in a row and they were also able to sell more Nissan Patrols in the Philippines than in Japan.

Myrna Yao, founder and CEO of Richwell Trading

Despite her success, Elizabeth has no plans of slowing down and she has her eye on the bigger picture. Other than selling vehicles, she has launched programs to help entrepreneurs with their transportation needs, which in turn help generate more income and jobs for Filipinos.

Dr. Rosalinda “San San” Hortaleza is the chairman and CEO of HBC, Inc., one of the biggest retailers of health, beauty, personal and home-care products and services in the Philippines. Born to a Filipino-Chinese family, San San got her entrepreneurial spirit and persevering character from her parents, who inspired and encouraged her to fulfill her dreams of becoming a businesswoman.

Being exposed to negosyo early helped San San in setting up HBC, Inc., then known as Hortaleza Beauty Center, which brought beauty and personal products closer to the Filipino masses. Currently, HBC, Inc., which carries exclusive brands San San Cosmetics, Body Recipe, Hortaleza MD, Allue My First, and Hortaleza Professional, has more than 200 branches nationwide and has also gained popularity in the US, Singapore and Oman. Because of San San’s hard work and love for Filipino products, HBC, Inc. has made it to the Top 1,000 Corporations in the Philippines.

Nelia Siggaoat, president of Manels, tried many negosyos with her husband, Manuel, before finally hitting it right with one of the most recognized names in leather goods in the Philippines. It was in 1964, while working at the Philippine Women’s University, that she decided to try her hand at putting up a business. She set up Manels as a pharmacy in Manila before converting it into their first shoe store. Knowing she could do so much more with their negosyo, Nelia eventually quit her job and focused on the artistic aspects of creating and manufacturing leather goods. A few years later, Manels became a pioneer in the Philippine leather industry.

Today, Nelia has 43 Manels boutiques in different malls all over the country and counting. She has also launched a number of product lines under her brand, including collections of jewelry cases, travel luggage and even leather planners. Manels has also reached out to the leather market in other countries including the United States, Japan and Germany.

Mothers are our children’s first teachers so it comes naturally for some women to choose to become educators. Dr. Genevieve Ledesma-Tan knows the value of a good education, and so she followed her passion for teaching and shaping young minds by putting up Southville International School and Colleges in 1989. Genevieve, the founder and chief executive mentor of Southville, started small with only five teachers who focused on teaching preschoolers. But because of her commitment to providing high-quality education, Southville fast became an accredited international school with more than 1,500 students. Today, her school, in partnership with International Education Specialists, has evolved into Southville Foreign University, the first international college in the Philippines.

Elizabeth Lee, executive vice president of Universal Motors Corporation

As a teacher and an entrepreneur herself, Genevieve believes in the importance of teaching entrepreneurship to kids as it will shape who they become in the future.  By starting them young, she hopes that they will eventually be successful entrepreneurs who will also, in their own way, guide others and give back to the community.

Dr. Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, Zenaida Tantoco, Nelia Siggaoat, Elizabeth Lee, Myrna Yao, Dr. Rosalinda Hortaleza, and Dr. Vicki Belo will be recognized as the Go Negosyo Filipina Starpreneurs in the Medium/Large category during our Go Negosyo Kapuso Ka ng Bayan Women Entrepreneurship Summit on March 4-6 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. This year’s biggest women entrepreneurship summit is a joint effort of Go Negosyo, GMA Network and The Philippine STAR.

The Go Negosyo Filipina Starpreneurs award is their way of recognizing the inspiring women entrepreneurs and enablers who have made a difference in their fields and have become role models as women with positive enterprising mindsets, passion and innovative skills.  The Starpreneurs are women who have gracefully balanced life, family, pursuits, and service to community.

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Contact me at feedback@gonegosyo.netor my Joey Concepcion Facebook account. Visit Watch the top-rating entrep show Go Negosyo: Kaya Mo! on QTV every Saturday and Sunday at 8-8:30 a.m., with replays on NBN every Tuesday from 9:15-10:15 p.m. Get daily Go Negosyo Text Tips on your mobile phone by sending GONEGO to 2910.

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