By CARRIE T. ASPA
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — About 200 entrepreneurs from Zambales and Olongapo City learned best practices from some of the most successful business executives in the country through the “Mentor Me Program” of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The mentoring session, held on June 14 at the Subic Bay Travelers Hotel here, sought to help owners of small and medium enterprises penetrate markets more stably and consistently, said DTI Assistant Secretary Blesila Lantayona.
Lantayona noted that as much as 70 to 80 percent of small to medium businesses have a short life span due to insufficient knowledge among owners on how to manage a business. “But small and medium enterprises provide a whopping 62 percent of the jobs in the Philippines, so you must not underestimate yourselves,” she also told the assembled entrepreneurs.
Paul Anthony de Guzman, marketing officer of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (Go Negosyo) reminded participants in the forum that all entrepreneurs, big and small, should live by the vision of DTI’s “Kapatid Angat Lahat” program.
The Kapatid initiative was launched in August last year to allow medium and large companies to help micro and small enterprises (MSEs) through the use of inclusive business models and by integrating them into their value chain.
De Guzman pointed out that entrepreneurs must lift and encourage one another, and allow small companies to benefit from and with their bigger counterparts.
Meanwhile, Tokyo Tempura CEO Jorge Noel Y. Wieneke III impressed upon the audience the need for an attitude of gratitude, determination, risk-taking, passion and outgoingness. He said these helped give birth to his Potato Corner franchise, which he had built with close friends and family.
Sharing the origins of his entrepreneurial mind-set, Wieneke recalled that his “business-centric mentality” stemmed from an infatuation with a childhood toy, which caused him to find ways to make money through odd jobs.
Wieneke, who also teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Graduate School of Business, is the president and managing director of Asian Food Project, Inc. (Japok) and serves as business consultant for Good Earth Restaurant, Go Fish Deli, Marina Seafood Restaurant, and Value Rice, Inc.
In the same forum, Business Mentors Inc. president Wilfredo Victor Arcilla stressed that entrepreneurs play a bigger role in nation-building, perhaps more so than overseas Filipino workers who are recognized for their contribution to the Philippine economy through remittances.
“The money OFWs collectively generated, if these were divided among the individual OFWS, would still be a paltry amount. The OFWs weren’t going to change the Philippines; only enterprises will,” he concluded.
Arcilla also lectured on current marketing trends, followed by inspirational success stories from local entrepreneurs led by James Lee, chairman of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Council of Olongapo City.
At the end of the session, DTI’s Lantayona cited the high success level of the Mentor Me and Kapatid programs, saying that some participants from Tacloban had collectively generated P14 million after only five months of using a business model formulated under the DTI project.
Lantayona added that the DTI now plans on extending the program through web seminars or webinars to make it accessible to more entrepreneurs.
PHOTO: DTI Assistant Secretary Blesila Lantayona (3rd from right) touts the value of sharing best practices in entrepreneurship during a session of the DTI’s Mentor Me Program in the Subic Bay Freeport.