General Santos City, the Department of Trade and Industry 12, in partnership with the Go Negosyo’s Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship held the “Mentor Me” Program Negosyo Seminar for the first time at the Trade Hall 1 of SM City GenSan last September 23, 2016. Said activity was attended by 551 Micro-Small-Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) coming from Region 12’s five cities and four provinces and said to be the figure to beat so far among the five regions which conducted the Roll Out. Tacloban has a total of 213 pax with only 109 MSMEs; Cavite has total of 350 pax with 189 MSMEs; Cagayan de Oro has a total of 317 pax with 189 MSMEs while General Santos City has 551 registered pax with 358 MSMES.

“Mentor Me” is the first among the three components of the DTI Negosyo Kapatid “Angat Lahat” Program, which in turn, is a product of the forged agreement with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (Go Negosyo) and DTI.

Activity was opened thru a Welcome Address given by the Executive Assistant of the General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera in the person of Mr. Jose Kevin Sienes. His talk signified support to all the programs and projects of DTI 12 considering that many of the region’s MSMEs are found in GenSan.

DTI 12 Regional Director Ibrahim K. Guimadel in his Opening Remarks explained in Filipino that the Mentor Me Program aims to help Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs scale up their businesses thru weekly coaching and mentoring by business owners and practitioners on different functional areas of entrepreneurship by utilizing the Negosyo Centers here in our region. “By the end of this program, we hope to produce SOCCKSARGEN’S confident entrepreneurs with the right Mindset and business-know-how who will be able to sustain and scale up their enterprises.” he said.

Ms. Jeah La Guardia, Team Leader of the Go Negosyo’s Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) for the Mentor Me Go Negosyo Seminar enumerated and explained the three components of the DTI Negosyo Kapatid “Angat Lahat”. First of the three is the Mentor Me Program. Second is the Adopt an SSF Program which aims to improve the MSMEs competitiveness through the SSF Project that is being implemented by DTI nationwide along with project partners termed as co-operators. Here, MSMEs were provided with machinery, equipment, and tool, under a shared system. End goal is to maximize the use of SSF in its full potential by partnering with fitting “Cooperators” which are business owners and corporations. Third is the Inclusive Business (IB) defined as a sustainable business that benefits low-income communities which is a business initiative that keeping its for-profit nature, contributes to poverty reduction through the inclusion of low income communities in its value chain. Its end goal is to achieve inclusive growth by promoting existing IB models that can be adopted by other enterprises eventually creating an IB community that recognizes IB models designed to assist MSEs.

She also showed a Mentor Me Testimonial Video of Joey Concepcion showing the objectives of the program which are : 1) to help MSEs develop a good business sense by capacitating them through fundamentals of Entrepreneurship; 2) assist MSEs scale up and sustain their enterprises by equipping them with the needed skill sets by way of theoretical conceptual discussions (lectures) and mentoring coaching sessions. Here, the Go Negosyo serves as the central coordinating body, sending mentors to MSEs (mentees) who are pre-selected by the DTI Negosyo Centers.

Two Speakers listed as Go Negosyo’s “Angelpreneurs” flew in from Metro Manila to present their expertise on the fields of Entrepreneurial Mindsetting and Values Formation and Marketing & Market Trends.

Mr. Paulo M. Tibig, President and CEO of V Cargo shared that the secret to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to Dream, Believe and Put Everything into Action. He presented his topic in Filipino and used photos out of several movie clips to explain his ideas and engaged the participants by asking them to finish a particular statement or guess a particular word with a given beginning letter which thrilled and delighted the participants. He also shared that as if one wishes to succeed as an Entrepreneur, he/she should have the following values: 1) Commitment 2) Attitude (the right one); 3) Motivation 4) Perseverance and 5) Hardwork.

Ms. Mylene Abiva, President and CEO of the FELTA Multimedia Inc. a company which is into Robotics, on the other hand is part of the third generation of the Abiva Clan who is into Book Publishing known as the Abiva Publishing. She shared some tips in Marketing by presenting some video clips of marketing campaigns of big companies such as BMW. She also showed a clip showing the market segment which can most likely afford to buy products. These are the modern “Senior Citizens” who have the money to buy. Among the marketing steps that she shared was 1) Knowing who your customers are; 2) Know what your customers are buying and what their position strategies are. Identify your products and Services 3) Identify your competitors 4) identify your competitive edge 5) Carry out a SWOT Analysis.

She also shared some tips on how to do a good marketing campaign like 1) Develop a Competitive Edge which means one has to develop his/her own product branding; 2) Price is not the end all or be all of your business. Sometimes, the lowest price gives the impression of lesser quality; 3) Building and maintaining a favourable image in the minds of the customers is vital. First impression is very important. 4) Develop a good reputation for your business and also for you as a business person. Do good work and more work comes from it. Define excellence and make it your objective. She also introduced some strategies in Digital Marketing which consist of : 1) Setting a Goal; 2) Creating a Marketing Funnel by mapping customer’s journey; 3) Developing a Call to Action 4) Creating an Effective Magnet; 5) Driving Traffic Quality Content by using blog posts, press releases, articles, key word strategy; website optimization and social media.

On the other hand, Engr. Anthony P. Bravo, DTI- North Cotabato Provincial Director explained the services of the Negosyo Center composed of the following: 1) Business Advisory 2) Business Registration Assistance and 3) Business Information and Advocacy. The Center is a One-Stop Shop for Services that cater to the entrepreneur’s’ need in processing requirements necessary to establish a business; and in accessing information essential for their growth. “Currently there are 8 Negosyo Center Counselors that were hired region wide for this purpose,” he said.

Business Advisory Services of the Negosyo Center include 1) Access to Market; 2) Access to Finance 3) Product Development and 4) Investment Promotion. Parts of its Business Registration Assistance Services are: 1) Facilitation of the processing of Business Name and Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise Registrations; 2) Liaise with SEC and CDA and concerned government agencies to process the duly accomplished forms submitted by the MSMEs; 3) Assist/facilitate the processing of Mayor’s Permit Registration.
He also mentioned the BMBE Certificate holders are entitled to receive the following benefits: 1) Income tax exemption arising from the operations of the enterprise; 2) Exemption from the coverage of the Minimum Wage Law; 3) Priority to a Special Credit Window; 4) Technology Transfer, Production and Management Training, Marketing Assistance Programs for BMBE Beneficiaries. The LGU are also encouraged either to reduce the amount of local taxes, fees and charges imposed to exempt the BMBEs from local taxes, fees and charges.

In order to qualify as a BMBE, a business enterprise must be engaged in production, processing, or manufacturing of products, including agro-processing, as well as trading and services with total assets of more than P3 Million. Such assets shall include those arising from loans but not the land on which the plant and equipment are located. Most importantly, the enterprise must be registered with the concerned agencies: DTI for Sole Proprietorship; Cooperative Development Authority for cooperatives; Securities and Exchange Commission for corporations, partnerships and associations. Exempted or disqualified are those entities rendering services in connection with the exercise of one’s profession by a person duly licensed by the government after having passed a licensure examination.

An inspirational forum followed thereafter featuring two of Region 12’s Successful MSMEs and was moderated by Engr. Nenita Barroso of DTI Sarangani and Ms. Jeah La Guardia of PCE. Mr. Jun Pantua, Manager of Kablon Farms narrated the humble beginnings of Kablon and relayed how the family-owned enterprise has been assisted by DTI and other agencies. Meanwhile Ms. Honee Gethra Villacruz, Senior Sales & Marketing Executive represented Mr. Porferio Dichon of the Truly Natural Food Corporation. She also mentioned some government interventions which TNFC received but stresses the importance of creating a good image, branding and good packaging for the company and its products as among its secrets to “Success”. These success stories are being shared to MSMEs to inspire them to pursue their dreams of becoming successful progressive entrepreneurs.

The Mentor Me Program has 11 modules that are divided into two phases namely: The Phase I, Developing Business Senses with four modules that run for two weeks consisting of: 1)Entrepreneurial Mind setting & Values Formation 2) Marketing 3) Accounting for Non-Accountants and 4) Product Development.

Meanwhile, the Phase 2 is composed of the Key Areas on Entrepreneurship which are more advanced consisting of 7 modules which will run for 7 weeks also (1 week/module) comprising the topics: 1) Operations management specific for the sector where the ME belongs; 2) Human Resource Management; 3) Taxation; 4) Supply and Value Chain 5)Financial Management (including Pricing & Costing) 6) Business Law (Basic Contracts and Obligations) and 5) What’s next consisting of a Quick Fix Plan or Re-Entry Plan.

Business Experts like the members of the PICPA and the academe and selected entrepreneurs volunteered to become our local mentors. They are : 1) Mr. Ulysses D. Villanueva of Green Earth Plant Nursery; 2-5 )Ms. Lelia R. Carbon, Ms. Rose Evelyn B. Lumbos, Ms. Phoebe P. Montefalcon, and Ms. Anabella K. Noel of PICPA; 6) Mr. Alfie Custodio PhD of NDDU; 7) Mr. Danny Sabino of Suchero/ Churner Group of Companies; 8) Mr. Dindo P. Quevada; 9) Mr. Kelvin Parreno of Kyen’s Suka Natural ; 10) Mr. Ismael O. Salih, Jr. of Triple SJ Consultancy; 11) Ms. Jennifer Porsuelo of SGV & Co.; 12) Mr. Fredo P. Basino; 13) Dr. Blenn Nimer of Notre dame of Kidapawan; 14) Atty. Raul Josefino Miguel of GSC Chamber and 15) Mr. Rey Billena of Ice Castle Hotel.