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Opinion

Starting them young

GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion - The Philippine Star

My youngest, Bella, paid me a visit at RFM the other week. She is helping me promote Go Negosyo’s OFW-focused entrepreneurship event, Balik-Bayan Summit. Our short chat can be viewed on Go Negosyo’s Facebook page.

Even before we engaged her services, Bella had been a full-fledged endorser/influencer after one of her TikTok videos on makeup went viral. Go Negosyo decided to avail of her talents and hit two birds with one stone. She is now dabbling with entrepreneurship after receiving offers from various companies to become their brand influencer. I can see she’s enjoying this new adventure.

Today, there are thousands of young people out there making content for different social media platforms and making a good living out of it, too. Bella is about the right age as our target audience for another Go Negosyo event, Teenpreneur.

Bella said her favorite among our Go Negosyo events is the Women Summit. She said she found the women we invited as speakers to be inspiring and wondered if maybe she, too, can one day become a businessman herself; perhaps build a business around makeup, which she enjoys. Or make a living out of being an influencer or social media personality? Maybe she can become the next Small Laude? We’ll see.

I was about Bella’s age when I started dabbling in entrepreneurship. I was too impatient for school and I wanted to make it on my own. I sold clothes, became an agent for fire extinguishers and started a cotton candy cart in Cubao.

I told her that it’s important to make mistakes while you’re young. Not mistakes born out of recklessness, mind you, but mistakes that you can recover and learn from. Mistakes make you resilient and develop grit, two important characteristics of successful entrepreneurs. Despite trials, entrepreneurs never give up. That’s very important if you are to become an entrepreneur. It’s OK to feel disappointed, frustrated and tired, but you have to dust yourself off and get up again.

Bella told me that when she was younger, she wanted to start a YouTube channel. She would record videos with her cousins for uploading, but the project never went anywhere so she gave up. Then TikTok came along and the format suited her. She recorded herself putting on makeup and before she knew it, the video became viral and it inspired her to make more content.

What did she learn from it, I asked. She said she learned to not give up, and to find something that she is passionate about. To enjoy it and do it so many times she becomes good at it. Like someone once said, if you can do it for the right reasons, you can do it forever.

Bella is luckier than most because she gets her entrepreneurship mentoring even without knowing it. She is mentored while listening to business conversations over dinner, when she takes part in small errands for the company and when she sees how I and her immediate family navigate small business decisions day in and day out. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and industrialists. Her great-grandfather started RFM, her Lolo JoeCon expanded the business into other industries and her grand-uncles and uncles are also into business. We are her influencers.

Bella’s generation has the best opportunities for entrepreneurship. At no other time in recent history has it been easier to access capital, markets and knowledge (or the three M’s as we call them – money, markets and mentorship). Fintech companies are making it easier to borrow money, social media is turning traditional advertising on its head and there are online tutorials on everything from baking to automotive repair. These are all available to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection.

At our public entrepreneurship events, I notice that we are getting more young attendees who are keen on starting their own businesses. At a recent 3M on Wheels event, I met a seven-year-old who took his love of Kettle Korn and became a dealer of our popcorn brand. He sells mainly to relatives and his mother’s officemates, but I can see how the encouragement of his family had a lot to do with his enthusiasm.

Not a few weeks after that, I was introduced to a young lady who was a participant in our Youthpreneur summit when she was in high school. She decided to quit her job and focus solely on growing an ice cream business that was inspired by her father, an ice cream vendor in UP Diliman. As Go Negosyo embarks on the Teenpreneur event, I am excited to meet more young people who want to explore entrepreneurship.

Fortunately, the Department of Education is lending its support to our endeavors, and we are now exploring ways to institutionalize this training so that it becomes part of the school curriculum in primary education. With DepEd’s help, we can reach more young Filipinos and teach them about entrepreneurship, or at least open their minds to it.

This is especially crucial for children who may not have the advantages of having mentors in their immediate circles, much less the resources to pursue traditional avenues by which Filipinos achieve social and economic mobility such as getting higher education to become a professional, or going overseas to become an OFW. There are so many children out there who will become the first entrepreneurs in their family, the first to found a business, the one to lift the family out of poverty. For them, we must create a new path so they can improve their lives.

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