Lessons from the past and visions of the future

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

It was a successful 18th anniversary party for us at Go Negosyo. Last Monday, Nov. 27, I had the pleasure of hosting Vice President and Department of Education Secretary Sara Duterte and no less than former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the party marking our 18th year.

The two represent the past and the future of Go Negosyo. GMA was the reason I began my journey in MSME advocacy; without her, I wouldn’t be here. Back in 2005, she asked me to be a Presidential Consultant for Entrepreneurship. I will admit that I was iffy about it, knowing what a government position might entail. But knowing what I know about GMA, and her being mentored by my father, JoeCon, when he was DTI secretary, I put aside my misgivings and dived headlong into what is now nearly two decades of work with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, more popularly known by our advocacy, Go Negosyo. You might say we came full circle when she mentored me in my work with MSMEs.

And now, with VP Sara at the helm of the Department of Education, we are charting the future of entrepreneurship in the Philippines. We recently signed with them an MOA to pursue programs and initiatives to promote an entrepreneurial mindset among Filipino youth. Specifically, it will be three programs: school gardens, the free entrepreneurship mentoring event Youthpreneur and the training of teachers in basic entrepreneurship concepts.

And with President Bongbong Marcos expressing time and again his support for our advocacy, we can look forward to more years of support for current and future MSMEs. As they grow, we can help build an economy that is not only strong and vibrant, but also inclusive.

Few people realize this, but as small businesses grow, so do big businesses. At every step of the way, private sector can lend a hand in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

For the school garden project, for example, we are looping in our big brothers from the Kapatid Angat Lahat sa Agri Program. I am told that agriculture education in the country can use private sector help, especially in providing students with practical knowledge and the resources they need.

And this is an important point: The partnership between government and the private sector is evident in how much we at Go Negosyo have accomplished over the years. I only need to cite our efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic to illustrate how a public-private partnership is more than the sum of its parts. Together, government and private sector were able to come up with a solution that gave us vaccines, allowed our businesses to safely reopen and saved the MSMEs.

There are many in the private sector and the government with a passion to serve. Over the years, we in the private sector developed productive relationships with the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural Training Institute; during the pandemic we worked with the Department of Health, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and with the reopening of the economy, with the Department of Tourism, the Department of Migrant Workers and now with our initiative for the youth, the DepEd.

Partnerships can work and this is why I feel I owe a lot to many people. This is especially true when it comes to the Go Negosyo pool of mentors. They give up their weekends and volunteer their time, resources and expertise to teach strangers. That is generosity. Without our mentors, there would be no Go Negosyo. It would be impossible to reach as many people as we do, to hold our free entrepreneurship mentoring events and guide the many Filipinos who want to better their lives by putting up small businesses.

I see it every time we have these public events. When you see for yourself just how many MSMEs are out there and how basic their problems are – where do I go to learn more about this product I have in mind, where do I get the capital to start my business, how do I effectively market it – and you have all the resources to answer these questions, the urge to help becomes even stronger.

And I had to see it for myself when we held an entrepreneurship event for students. I had my doubts at first because as a student, I didn’t want to give up my weekends to study. But at the Youthpreneur we held last Nov. 25, hundreds of students turned up and the interaction with the mentors was phenomenal. You could feel that they were driven to succeed in life. Some of the young people I spoke to had their plans clearly outlined in their minds: work first as an employee then slowly build up the experience and capital to start a business; study the market for milk tea and vegetable burritos; find the perfect skin whitening cream to manufacture and become its brand ambassador.

This is where it all starts. We plant the seed of inspiration in these young minds and nurture them by giving them hope that anything is possible, and then clearing the path so that nothing is impossible.

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