Starting this week, you can read selected SME Insight articles in INQUIRER.net on top of getting easy access to teasers through their blog, yet another gift from the Philippine Daily Inquirer group publication’s convergence model. SME Insight is a magazine for serious entrepreneurs who want to bring their businesses to the next level. It sells for P120 in magazine stores, but its value can be so much more to business-minded people looking for solutions to business challenges. For those who have been reading SME Insight, you will notice that the magazine got a makeover for its November-December issue. Check out the cover and it’s inside pages. I love the new look! New editor Karen Galarpe has a long relationship with the magazine publishing business, having been editor of Good Housekeeping before. Former editor Art Ilano is focusing on his dissertation, but has thankfully decided to continue writing articles for the magazine. For this issue, SME Insight has featured young new entrepreneurs, particularly Amina Aranaz-Alunan on the cover sharing how her bags are doing in the local and export markets. Entrepreneurs Ino Caluza of Viktor Jeans, Dick Balajadia of Café Half Moon, Crissy Balatbat of Cerealicious and Quark Henares of Blow Up Babies. The toolbox is another winning hit among business owners, with its practical tips for small entrepreneurs. Learn why you have to make sure your checks don’t bounce, how to simplify operations, how to deal with email, engage in guerilla selling, handle 13th month pay and finding a selling point that works for you. There’s dreaming about owning your own business and taking the steps to realize that dream. SME Insight can help get you there more quickly.
November 2007 Archives
Some eye-popping figures came out of Cartoon Network’s latest study on Filipino children and their lifestyles. P37 billion – spending power of kids in their “tweenies”, or kids seven to 14 years old 46% -- of Filipino kids are now using the Internet versus 26% in the 2005 study 43% -- of those who access the Internet receive email weekly 35% -- of those who access the Internet use instant messenger. More of them watch videos and play games online 76% -- of kids who access the Internet have their own pages in social networking sites 96% -- of kids interviewed watched TV “yesterday” 30% -- of kids interviewed listened to the radio “yesterday” 99% -- of parents say they visit shopping malls with their kids 27% -- of parents said they do this once a week 66% -- of children interviewed are concerned about global warming. (Face to face interviews done by Synovate for Cartoon Network, in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao). Click here for entire article. A chart on Philippine demographics is eye-candy to anyone selling consumer items. It’s pyramid structure shows that the Cartoon Network-commissioned survey’s discovery will go on for many more years. If you notice lately, a growing number of advertisements and marketing gimmicks are now focused on this age group – the tweenies – as opposed to years before when companies and businesses targeted parents because they held the purse strings. Not anymore. Selling and marketing to children is now a serious thing. Other news that small business owners should not miss: Average consumer goods prices (also known as inflation) are expected to increase by 2.6% to 2.7% this year. This could mean your raw materials will remain affordable depending on what industry you are in. Inflation, after all, is an average figure. This could also mean you cannot increase prices too much next year to remain competitive. If your business depends on shipping and moving goods from one part of our archipelago to the other, you are probably hurting from the crippling costs of transporting goods. Logistics is one of the problems that seriously threaten the growth of small and medium-scale enterprises in this country. The National Competitiveness Council is putting pressure on the government to reduce the cost of transporting goods, but don’t wait for that to happen. Find your own strategy. Small businessmen or would-be entrepreneurs can get free training on the different aspects of starting a business from bookkeeping to managing staff or writing a feasibility study or business plan that banks will approve by looking for a BPI Foundation training within your vicinity. Ask the nearest BPI branch for information. While BPI does not lend directly to micro-entrepreneurs, it lends to micro-finance organizations who, in turn, lend money to small businessmen. For those in the call center industry, or hoping to get into the business, e-Telecare human resources manager Eric Concepcion says “creative recruitment” is the key because there are more talents and assets out there who are not being tapped. The Philippine Daily Inquirer has featured several success stories in Business Monday. Saved by abaca angels is about Melinda Morante, an entrepreneur from Guinobatan, Albay, where super typhons have been a constant visitor yearly. Despite having lost P200,000 worth of handicrafts to floods brought by Typhoon Reming, she went back to weaving with a vengeance. Alfredo M. Yao, chair of Zest-O Corp., started his career by printing cellophane wrappers for food products. Last week, he was cited in Germany for introducing the “doy pack” during the ASEAN Business Awards. It was slow going for Yao during the first part of his business. The machine he bought for doy packs seemed useless because juice makers did not buy the idea. So he started making his own fruit juices in his own kitchen. A year later, Zest-O was born. Now the doy packs are even made into bags :) Sell to kids. Study well how to move your goods, take advantage of free training, use creative hiring methods and stay inspired!
One of the most interesting rags to riches story in the country is that of John Gokongwei. You are all familiar with how he became one of the Philippines' top billionaires. He started selling peanuts from his backyard and now sells snacks to the world. He is now worth $425 million and is the 34th richest man in Asia. Gokongwei’s empire touches every Filipino household – from food and drinks, transportation, telecommunications, real estate, and malls, among others. His message, which received a standing ovation at the Ad Congress going on now in Subic, has this as his main message:
Why serve 86 million when you can sell to four billion Asians? And that's just to start you off. Because there is still the world beyond Asia.Why indeed? You don’t have to be a big business owner to sell to the world. Thirty-something entrepreneurs are doing it. Their products are known in other countries, but not here. There’s risk, of course, and a lot of learning involved. How to get financing, which buyers to trust, which are the best ways to ship products, how to market yourself and your company. There are many things to iron out, but few things that should deter the small entrepreneur. Go beyond the local market. Sell to the world. But keep grounded on this spot. Home ground. Gokongwei finished with:
I am 81 today. But I do not forget the little boy that I was in the palengke (market) in Cebu. I still believe in family. I still want to make good. I still don't mind going up against those older and better than me. I still believe hard work will not fail me. And I still believe in people willing to think the same way.Entrepreneurs have to BELIEVE. (Photo from Robinsons Land Corp.)
Being the jaded journalist that I am, I find myself cringing whenever I hear the phrase “Anything is possible.” It sounds too much like an opening speech gone bad. Yesterday, I heard it again during a Go Negosyo even that I covered. This time, however, I couldn’t quite argue against the motherhood cliché with my usual skepticism. The subject of the speech spoke more than the three-word-phrase that I usually scoff at. Picture this: five persons with disabilities who have successfully run their own businesses for many years against all odds. I met Juan “Dickoy” Magdaraog who was in his wheelchair the whole time and had tubes attached to his nostrils, but had so much dignity in the way he talked, smiled and related to people. Dickoy has been battling Pompe disease for the last 18 years. Pompe disease is a rare and recessive genetic mutation that disables the heart and muscles. But this did not stop him from setting up Sparkplug Studios and using his skills as its creative director. “Work has always been a big part of my life. I can honestly look at myself in the mirror and say I’m worth something. I contribute to this world we live,” he said. I was inspired by the outgoing personality of Maria Gilda Quintua (fourth from right), who took her trophy at the stage with the ease and gracefulness of the latest Miss Universe. Gilda is deaf and mute, but successfully runs MGLQ Deaf Tour Assistance. As head tour guide, Gilda ‘talks’ to people from Malaysia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Japan. Also, there are clients coming from Germany, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA much better than hearing people, if what I saw yesterday was any indication. DCRB Photography Services’ top photographer is deaf, but books three to four weddings monthly. Dennis Balan (fifth from right) may not be able to hear spoons clicking against glasses or the “You may kiss the bride” pronouncements that photographers watch out for to know when to prepare for the next magic moment to capture on camera, but that doesn’t deter him from being good at what he does. Antonio Llanes Jr. (sixth from right), president of ATRIEV has a natural knack for anything technical and repairs audio equipment, refrigerators and even computers. How he does that with his poor vision is beyond me, but from the looks of his business, he is doing great. Definitely, poor vision did not stop him from enjoying the awarding yesterday, as he was the only one dancing to the music while everyone was preparing for the photo shoot. Everybody knows Tahanang Walang Hagdan and its inspiring 34-year journey from a small organization that provides livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities into a business entity that now exports its woodcraft, metalcraft, furniture, educational items and corporate giveaways. Jocelyn Garcia (third from left), who runs TWH, has for years taught those who are in wheelchairs that they can stand even if their legs are impaired. These five businessmen turned the tables on their perceived disabilities and proved that they can do even better than many “normal” persons. Presidential consultant for entrepreneurship Jose Conception III said if they can do it, why can’t all of us. But Figaro Coffee President Pacita Juan’s statement said it all: “Sometimes, we think we are disabled, but we really aren’t. In fact, sometimes the real disability is here (pointing to her temple).” Indeed, anything is possible if we can get our minds to accept it.
Here’s the video I took of the press conference on muscovado sugar. Enjoy!
I have packs and packs of muscovado sugar in my kitchen. Some of them have been there for months! I buy them in the grocery store on moments I feel like “going organic” or “going green”. But I forget to use them or fail to tell the maids to use them. The distinct flavor that comes with the brown sweetness takes some getting used to, I guess. But when I talked to muscovado sugar farmers at the Good News Kapihan yesterday, I realized that with all the chemicals used in making sugar come in white granules, we could be slowly putting in toxins in our body or killing the environment with pesticides. (Here’s an excerpt but you can read my entire article here.)
A lot of people use “sweetness” to get their way. For muscovado farmers Reynic S. Alo of Negros province and Cornelio E. Castañeda Jr. of Sultan Kudarat, it brought in money, a business that is not only good for the environment but also helps poor farmers in the countryside.
At the Good News Kapihan Wednesday, a monthly forum organized by Good News Pilipinas, Jerry E. Pacturan, executive director of Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Inc. and Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said first movers in muscovado farming are getting the windfall from rising demand for the organic brown sugar in Japan and Europe.
Muscovado is brown, moist sugar that’s commonly associated with gourmet coffee. But it is also used commercially to make banana chips, candies, chocolates and other sweetened products. Filipinos in Mindanao and Visayas are also using it instead of “vetsin” or monosodium glutamate, and also for marinating meat and fish, cooking tuna, baking organic bread and making chocolate, among others.
It’s more expensive than white granulated sugar at P60 to P70 per kilo, but the price does not deter consumers who are starting to get conscious in using consumer goods that do not need harmful chemicals in the production process.
“If you knew how white sugar is made, you will never use it. It has a lot of chemicals,” Reynic S. Alo, an exporter of muscovado cubes, said.
Muscovado and white sugar are both made from sugarcane; the only difference is the production process. If it’s organically produced and cooked without chemicals, it’s the kind that more and more world markets want because people are now more health and environment conscious.
Alo started producing muscovado sugar with a P50,000 seed money, but is now exporting to Japan and growing his business. Farmgate prices in Negros are at P38 to P44 per kilo and P25 per kilo in Antique province. In Metro Manila, retail prices are at P70. Alo sells to a Japanese middleman at P54 per kilo, but in bulk. In Europe, it is sold for P248 per kilo.Some revealing figures: 12 – months is the time of gestation for sugarcane, which grows anywhere in the country and is called the “laziest” crop because you essentially forget about it until harvest time. 200 – million pesos is up for grabs for muscovado farmers under the government’s wholesale credit facility for organic farming (applications should be sent to the Development Bank of the Philippines) 8 – percent per annum is the interest rate for this wholesale facility, meaning the funds will be lent to micro-finance institutions who wish to relend to organic farmers or cooperatives who want to set up mills to service a community of muscovado farmers 200 – million, another fund assistance for organic farmers under the Department of Agriculture 0.07 – percent is the share of muscovado to the total agriculture exports of the Philippines 5 – percent, the rate by which the muscovado industry has been growing for the last five to six years 1,000 – euro, the cost now of getting an organic certification (around P65,000). That’s just more or less the cost of flying in an expert, if the certification is done the traditional way. 1.8 – million pesos is the cost of a good food-grade mill needed to service 100 to 500 hectares of sugarcane. Important names and numbers to remember: Bernadette Romulo-Puyat Undersecretary of Department of Agriculture DA Compound Elliptical Road, Diliman Quezon City, Philippines Tel: (632) 920-1750 *Puyat is setting up a one-stop export shop that will help farmers prepare their products for export Jerry E. Pacturan Executive Director Philippine Development Assistance Programme, Inc. #78-B Dr. Lazcano St., Brgy. Laging Handa Quezon City, Philippines www.pdap.net
In the remote places of Tawi-Tawi and Sulu where electricity only comes from solar panels through a project called AMORE, it's not hard to find fishermen and most adults in late afternoon who are trying to unwind from a full day of hard work. Most of them sing away their blues through the videoke machine. Those clunky contraptions have, in many cases, replaced the traditional social halls of barangays. Who could forget that compelling tune sung out before the final score is revealed? :). Read this article and learn of a Filipino that has made money from the videoke trend!
By Delfin Mallari Jr. Southern Luzon Bureau Last updated 06:42pm (Mla time) 11/10/2007 LUCENA CITY -- His passion for singing and technical expertise acquired from a vocational school helped influence local businessman Fernando Vasquez, 43, to embark on videoke machine production. Three years ago, fed up with singing his favorite ballads in videoke bars amid noise from fellow singing customers, Vasquez bought himself a videoke unit from a local assembler. He paid P42,000 for the music machine which he subsequently rented out to a videoke bar in the city after it satisfied his passion in the confines of his home at the Market View subdivision in one corner of the city. Videoke machine is a mixed system of video and song lyrics shown to viewers through a television where one can actually sing along and have fun. A singer has to insert a P5-coin for every selected song and will be graded based on the melodic rendition of the piece. The coin-sharing arrangement is 70 percent for the owner of the videoke unit and 30 percent for the establishment, said Vasquez. “I entered the videoke business on a trial. But I found out that it’s a good venture. Most of the time, I netted P6,000 every 15 days. Singing is a popular pastime among Filipinos and a videoke machine is the most easy to follow musical accompaniment. Even a nonsinger can sing like a pro in due time,” Vasquez says. With the positive development in his new business, Vasquez, who is also involved in local fish trading, decided to expand and acquire four more videoke machines, which he also rents out to bars and sing-along joints in the city. With the acquisition of additional units, Vasquez says he often receives queries from satisfied customers on the cost of the videoke machine and where they can order one. This gave him the idea of also venturing into manufacturing the musical device, said Vasquez who has a diploma for a radio and television technical course from a local vocational school. In January last year, he started assembling videoke machines and transformed a vacant space along Don Crisanto Street, also in the same subdivision, as his workshop. He registered his venture under the trademark, “Fher-Enn Videoke,” a combination of his nickname and that of his wife Angelita. “With my technical background, I knew that I’m capable of running the business,” he said. To make him more knowledgeable on the intricacies of the musical system, Vasquez said he opened one of his videoke units and studied each of the parts and their functions. He then hired two shop helpers and another technician to assist him in the technical aspect of the production. “I’m also the one who personally buys all the best parts and equipment needed in the assembly line such as dynamic microphones, tweeters and speakers. I won’t compromise the sound of my unit,” he added. He said he tapped the expertise of a brother-in-law to create custom-made designs for the videoke wooden casing. He pays P1,000 for every casing which is finished in three days. He uses surplus television for his videoke which he buys for P4,000 a unit from a reputable dealer in Manila, adding it usually takes them 10 days to finish a “quality made and tested” machine. He sells his videoke machine for P35,000 to P38,000 a unit. Vasquez believes that the videoke business will still go a long way because of the Pinoy’s inherent fiesta culture and love for singing.
I first heard about the "Why Not" forum from Smart's Mon Isberto. At the time, I thought it was just a marketing gimmick or people pounding their fists on the table about something nationalistic when they are actually just marketing themselves. This blog post by Niña Terol has made me see that there must be something real here for the politics-weary Filipino who wants to change the world -- often through entrepreneurship. I post this with the permission of Mark Ruiz, one of the founders of Why Not. Read on: By Niña Terol It was an ordinary Thursday night, and yet Warehouse 135, the hip warehouse-turned-club on Yakal Street in Makati, was filled to capacity. Only it wasn't filled with clubgoers and party scenesters—it was filled with young professionals, creative minds, thinkers, and dreamers who all dared to ask a question that would set the tone for the entire evening's talks: Why not? The WhyNot? Forum, according to founders Mark Ruiz and Bam Aquino, is a "smorgasboard of great, brave ideas—an open-source innovation soup that will hopefully inspire other Filipinos all over to connect adjunct thoughts, take impactful action, and weave together new breakthrough ideas." Inspired by the TEDTalks of the United States ( www.ted.com), it is based on the simple idea of gathering some of the best minds in the country to share their respective ideas for 15 minutes each. By asking The Question and challenging outmoded assumptions, it is hoped that WhyNot? Forum will spark a thought revolution that will encourage people to "think new thoughts, share big dreams, do brave things." Seven Great Minds, One Big Question The first WhyNot? Forum, held on September 27, gathered a group of leaders, achievers, doers, and dreamers from diverse fields. There was Dondi Gomez, the "Marketing Maverick," who is the youngest-ever Managing Director of Unilever Philippines at age 35; Gang Badoy, the irrepressible and bubbly lady behind RockEd Philippines, tagged the "Alternative Educator"; Professor Jay Bernardo of the Asian Institute of Management, the "Rainmaker" and "Entrepreneurship Guru" who owns the distinction of being the first-ever Filipino to have been named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP) by the Junior Chamber International; "Technologist" Dr. Greg Tangonan, who teaches Innovation and Technology at the Ateneo de Manila University and has garnered 49 patents and numerous awards for his inventive work; Brian Tenorio, the creative genius behind the designer shoe label Tenorio Manila; Quark Henares, the "Filmmaker-on-the-Edge" who directed his first feature film at age 21; and Fr. Ted Gonzales, SJ of the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM), labeled the "Dreamer Priest." Even the creative forces running the event are achievers themselves: Ruiz and Aquino are part of the visionary group behind Hapinoy, an aggregated value network built around sari-sari stores, microfinancing institutions, and key partners in industry and civil society; event documenter Ditsi Carolino is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker ( Minsan Lang Sila Bata, Bunso, Riles); and guest performer Radioactivesago Project is a groundbreaking musical act that fuses jazz, funk, and spoken-word poetry in discussing a variety of social issues. Supporting the project from behind the scenes are industry giant Smart Communications, Web and multimedia company Softrigger Interactive, and Young Public Servants (YPS), a group of young, dynamic individuals focused on promoting "Good Governance and Democratic Citizenship among the youth." In opening the forum, Ruiz asked the audience, "What does the world think of when they think of the Philippines? ... Maybe the WhyNot? Forum can be our megaphone to the rest of the world [to showcase the ingenuity and the innovative spirit driving us Filipinos]... Why not?" Of challenges, opportunities, irritants, rock, beauty, passion, and baboy Gomez, in defining "maverick marketing" in the experience of Unilever Philippines' groundbreaking campaigns for Rexona, challenged the audience to adopt a non-conformist stance when it came to developing and presenting their ideas. "Great marketing gives people a taste of what could be... It provides imagination and courage to hope and to dream." He cites the worldwide success of the out-of-the-box campaigns First Day Funk and its follow-up, First Day High, which set record sales figures, won for Unilever Philippines numerous global awards, and established Rexona as the market leader in deodorants. Dr. Greg Tangonan, for his part, discussed the worldwide movement marking the early 2000s the "Decade of the Mind Initiative." He shared experiments in mind control, mind mapping, "out of body experiences" in the virtual world, and other brain experiments. He ultimately asked: "[If brain activity could be measured,] could the Filipino concepts of hiya (shame) or pakikiramay (empathy) also be measured? Can this be our contribution to the 'Decade of the Mind Initiative?' Why not?" When it was Gang Badoy's turn to speak, a technical glitch disabled her from using her Powerpoint presentation, but she masterfully held her own and gave the crowd an entertaining and engaging talk about the experiences that led her to found, and therefore commit herself to, RockEd, an alternative education movement that seeks to get young people involved in social issues through music. "We don't have to unite to progress," she challenges. "Even if we don't get along, as long as we get the job done, it's okay." True to her signature style, Badoy brought along a group of musicians to drive home her point and entertain her audience. Radioactivesago Project rendered the thought-provoking intermission number, singing their hit songs "Gin Pomelo" and " Gusto Ko ng Baboy (I Like Pig)," among others. The next speaker, Fr. Ted Gonzales of CEFAM, seemed to have been struck by Sago's quirky lyrics, often quoting them in his talk about integrity, passion, and "[embracing] the inner movements of your heart." "Hindi tayo mga baboy (We are not pigs)," he asserted. Fr. Gonzales was the obvious crowd-drawer in the room, as many of the audience members were "graduates" of his hit retreats Life Directions, Agimat, and On Fire. During designer Brian Tenorio's 15 minutes, the audience was transformed into an intimate group that listened closely to his ideas on love, luxe, lust, and beauty. Ironically, this shoe meister, who has gained fame for his beautiful and bewitching creations, maintained that it's not what you wear or the details that you place on yourself that matter as much as what's going on around you. "Beauty is not oppressive," he states. "Beauty unifies... It should allow growth. Beauty should allow love." Unfortunately, the natural beauty around us is constantly being threatened by natural and man-made disasters. Mr. Ramon Isberto, Head of Public Affairs at Smart Communications, disclosed a groundbreaking project meant to help local communities around the country prepare for storms. "The Philippines has the highest number of Category 5 typhoons in the world," he reveals. "Why not be prepared for it?" Likewise, entrepreneurship guru and AIM professor Jay Bernardo encouraged budding entrepreneurs to develop business ideas by seeking solutions to "irritants" around them. Citing the Chinese word and symbols for the word "crisis," he urged his listeners to "look at the opportunity before looking at the dangers... because once you see the opportunities, you will no longer see the dangers." Quark Henares might not have been a student of Prof. Bernardo, but he exemplified the attitude of risk-taking in his talk about the experiences that brought him to the forefront of the filmmaking world. From the psychologically disturbing movie that he saw at age 11 (David Lynch's Eraserhead), to his "Eureka moment" after watching the cult classic Pulp Fiction, to making the movie that bombed at the box office but was praised by his idol, Quentin Tarantino ( Keka), Henares' candid insights proved to the audience that some rewards can simply never be equated to fame or fortune. Why not more? Although this event is only the first of what promises to be a long-running series of thought-provoking discussions, it seems to be coming in at the right time. Regardless of their inclinations, educational backgrounds, or lifestyles, Filipinos simply have become tired of turning to the government (or to the streets) for answers to society's nagging questions; they are now looking to themselves to develop long-term solutions to problems that have unfolded over several generations. Indeed, the world is teeming with opportunities. Prof. Bernardo cites the "kanto boys" whom people look down upon during ordinary days, but who become reliable comrades and trusted allies in times of calamity, pushing cars and shuttling pedestrians over flooded waters for a small fee that anyone would be willing to pay. Anyone can achieve great things; anyone can make a difference. It only takes one simple question, and the guts to embrace the answers.
(Photo from AFP) By Amy R. Remo Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The local banana industry is poised to take advantage of the projected growth in world banana exports, estimated to reach 15 million metric tons by 2010, according to the Department of Agriculture's Strategic Plan for bananas. Banana exports already reached 12.94 million MT in 2004. The DA said it believes that prospects for banana, which has been a consistent top dollar earner, remains promising, both for the domestic and foreign markets. Huge investment opportunities can still be seen in the exports of Cavendish and fresh and processed bananas, as well as in the production of banana chips and puree, it added. The DA said it had mapped out strategies to ensure that the local banana industry can capture a bigger share of the export market. In general, the DA targets to increase production and exports of banana chip and Cavendish bananas and develop more export markets. Through its trade and selling missions and strong product promotions, the DA hopes to penetrate new markets in Europe. At the same time, it expects to increase exports to existing markets such as Australia, United States, Taiwan, China, South Korea and Middle East. Trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand for the export of Philippine bananas will also be pursued. Based on the DA report, the Philippines still ranks a far second from Ecuador in terms of world net exports. Other leading banana producers include India, Brazil, China, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Mexico. Last year, the country's banana exports reached 1.905 million MT worth $440 million, while Ecuador exported some 4.65 million MT. Ecuador accounts for 34 percent of the world export market while the Philippines' shares is only 16 percent, the DA said in its report.