Monday, July 9, 2007

The Entrepreneur Revolution

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Youth XIV

One of the most interesting developments in the country today is the emergence of many individuals and organizations that are promoting entrepreneurship among the people as an avenue for personal and professional growth. It is very interesting because in over a hundred years since we declared independence, only now am I seeing a concerted and energetic push for entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education in the country. Entrepreneurs are a vital component in nation-building and it is very important for our country's leaders to create business environments that will usher in more entrepreneurial individuals and organizations.

Entrepreneurs are an innovative bunch of individuals, partners and organizations that pursue their lofty dreams in bringing an idea, a product, or a service to the consuming public. In Joey Concepcion's book "50 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Stories," Professor Andy Ferreira outlines that the entrepreneurial spirit is found in three types of bodies and I quote "These are the classic entrepreneur, the corporate (intra-preneur) entrepreneur, and the social entrepreneur. Classic entrepreneurs are those who practice their entrepreneurial spirit in their own enterprises. Corporate entrepreneurs apply their entrepreneurial spirit in a firm they do not own. Social entrepreneurs use the entrepreneurial spirit to do good, while doing well. In many ways, the entrepreneurial spirit is a journey from classic to social."

Creating a truly entrepreneurial culture among Filipinos is not a very difficult task. We have long been an entrepreneurial culture. With the trade we had with the early Chinese merchants (some of their descendants are still with us today), our Southeast Asian neighbors, and even the Arab merchants who came here long before Ferdinand Magellan stumbled upon the Philippines.

The only problem is that we have never looked at entrepreneurship as something to be really proud of as nation and something that can potentially change our country. Maybe because of years of being under colonial rule, we have lost our appetite in making our dreams come true. Entrepreneurs though are certainly alive in our country today, from the rags-to-riches stories of Henry Sy (our Mall Mogul), John Gokengwei (the Great Benefactor), Lucio Tan, Manny V. Pangilinan MVP and Manny Villar (the future President), to the inspiring stories of sari-sari stores owners, divisoria traders, and "tiangge" merchants everywhere. The old Chinese saying that states "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime" is a good quote to live by in order to promote more people to become entrepreneurs.

As Joey Concepcion wrote in his book "If you can teach a nation to fish, you feed a nation for many lifetimes." It is truly noteworthy that there are individuals and organizations today that are bringing entrepreneurship education into our mainstream culture. In order for the Philippines to truly propel itself into an economic powerhouse - we must become a country of employers. Our old thinking and our current education system conditions us to just get goods grades so that we can be employed by a good company. I believe that we need to radically change this mindset. Young Filipinos should be encouraged to take up entrepreneurship as a very good career move. I believe if we can create more Filipino companies that are at par with the best in the world, our country can stop the exodus of so many Filipinos who need to work abroad sometimes in harsh conditions just so that they can support their families.

In light of this, I hope an Entrepreneur Revolution should be started by all sectors of society to truly engage our people towards starting their dream businesses.

Important steps have already been taken by some groups like Joey Concepcion's GoNegosyo Project & Caravan which hopes to create a country of millionaires, Vivienne Tan's Entrepreneur School of Asia (ESA) that provides entrepreneurship education, and other schools who have already started offering courses on entrepreneurship. The Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) One Town One Product (OTOP) program is also a good example as well as Summit Publishing's Entrepreneur Philippines magazine. Everyone can greatly benefit if the number of entrepreneurs in the country will explore, our economic pie will increase, unemployment will drop, and more Filipinos will be able to work here and still make their dreams come true. The Entrepreneur Magazine is an important tool in this revolution. I hope and I pray that more and more Filipinos will try to read their monthly issues. I am very fond of books, magazines, newspapers, and other reading materials but I also believed we have to prioritize where we spend our money. And where else than in something that can potentially bring us more value. There are already hundreds of thousands of buyers of magazines like FHM, Maxim, UNO, Metro, Cosmopolitan, Candy, and other Entertainment magazines but I believe it should be the Entrepreneur magazine at the top - you actually learn something of great value while reading it.

More and more people are realizing the way of entrepreneurship. It is then very important for the government to do more of its share especially regarding the procedures for setting up of new businesses. Banks and lending institutions should also do their share in supporting wannabe entrepreneurs who have no capital to be able to access low-interest loan programs. And it should also be good if the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education will consider a review of our country's education curriculum to include programs that will allow an entrepreneurial culture among students to take root. By planting the seeds today, we can expect many businesses tomorrow.

Let's Start the Revolution of the Filipino Entrepreneur!

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