‘Set goals, seek help, defy your fear of failure’

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Sunday, June 1, 2014


ALONG with the usual challenges of having a poor business environment and limited access to financing and markets, small businesses also face the problem of having owners with the wrong attitude.

In a breakout session about inclusive entrepreneurship during last week’s Open Collaboration with East Asia New Champions 2014 (Ocean 14) Summit, Islands Group president Jay Aldeguer said that some business owners suffer from apathy and a lack of self-belief.

“We live in a culture where we were told by our parents to study hard, get a degree and get into a multi-national company,” Aldeguer said.

Rather than embrace entrepreneurial pursuits, Aldeguer noted that most Filipinos would rather leave the country to find jobs. He admitted having mixed feelings about this, as overseas Filipinos contribute some US$23 billion to the country annually, but would prefer it if Filipinos found greener pastures at home.

For Kathleen Largo, who founded Asean-preneur Philippines, many educated degree-holders will not find the right job for their skills. Rather than stay unemployed, Largo said, engaging in business could be a better choice.

As a student at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Largo noticed that most of the university’s alumni weren’t entrepreneurial and started to wonder if the training they were getting was inadequate. She also felt that her internship “did not give me a sense of direction.”

It took a conference in Singapore to make her see the need for a startup ecosystem, which she helped bring to the Philippines last year.

Aldeguer, however, believes the future of entrepreneurship is bright, with more people opening up to the idea and private organizations dedicated to help starting entrepreneurs.

HP Philippines and Ideaspace are among the organizations allocating resources to provide a better environment for startups.

HP Philippines managing director Ryan Quadalquiver pointed out that before HP became a global computer name, they started out in a garage in Palo Alto in 1939.

Despite being a multi-national company, he said they have a culture that they wish to share with budding entrepreneurs, such as tools they will need to develop their business. Worldwide, they have assisted some two million entrepreneurs. Locally, he said, they are helping develop the local ecosystem by bringing them to potential clients.

Ideaspace president Earl Valencia said they support teams that solve real problems and don’t just go into business to get rich.

While most Filipinos will not relate to how Steve Jobs built Apple from a garage, he believes they can draw inspiration from someone from their own town who makes it big by starting small.

He said their organization hopes to fuel the ambitions of the country’s youth, citing that majority of the country’s population is around 23 years old.

A problem he noted, however, is that most of the applicants don’t know what they want
to become.

Valencia explained that they ask two questions of applicants: what do you want and what is your five-year goal? “A lot of them don’t know what they want to be in five years. They have no clue,” he said.

He also noted that the fear of failure discourages most from becoming entrepreneurs.

By linking up with Ideaspace, the venture capital arm of the MVP group, Valencia said the young entrepreneurs can explain to their parents that they are affiliated with the group that handles PLDT. And if things don’t work out, they can return to society without feeling ashamed.

John Echauz, executive vice president of Standard Insurance and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, which organized the Ocean 14 event, believes in pushing the young to work hard, even without an ecosystem in place.

He said that the best way for someone to learn how to rise above hardship is to go broke. “My grandfather went to the best school in entrepreneurship--World War 2,” he told participants.

Echauz also said organizations that have proper systems in place will be the ones that can expand.

Ocean 14 followed the World Economic Forum that was held in Manila. It was meant to gather leaders and innovators to collaborate on topics that would advance the state of the region.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 02, 2014.

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