Job creation ‘key to real growth’

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

FOR real growth to have an impact on poverty, a senator believes only the creation of more jobs and businesses can bring about drastic changes to the lives of the poor.

Sen. Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, who was the keynote speaker at the Go Negosyo Creativity and Innovation Summit Friday, said getting the country’s impressive growth to reach the masses is the toughest challenge the Philippines is facing today.

Noting the Philippines’ well-performing record in Asia, achieving high growth levels second only to China, Aquino said what needs addressing is the high unemployment, underemployment and poverty rates.



“There is a mismatch here. Our economy is doing well but it is not reaching the poor.

That is our number one challenge. We cannot have concentrated growth,” he said.

However, he assured that now is the best time to work on it, saying poverty and unemployment problems can best be addressed when a country’s economy is at its best.

“Inclusive growth with a tanking economy is difficult. But if we are growing, there is a bigger chance to correct it.”

He said the Philippines is unlike what it was 10 years ago and he is confident it will achieve developed status if it manages to grow at seven percent for whole decade.


But to get most people out of poverty, he said the solution is make sure they all have jobs or are able to put up small businesses to support themselves.

For businesses to thrive, Aquino said it is important that these are creative and innovative ventures or else the problems will stay the same.

“We need to reexamine what we are doing if we want things to change. To achieve inclusive growth, we need to do things differently,” he said.

He cited two business models that have managed to break the moulds of existing ventures and drastically changed the lives of communities.

One of the models he cited was that of Rags 2 Riches, a social enterprise using the weaving skills of women from Payatas. Instead of the foot rugs they used to make from discarded textiles, the women were able to earn more by making high-fashion bags designed by established names like Rajo Laurel. They also managed to get hold of the discarded textiles directly from the companies and eliminating the need for middlemen.

Today, these bags retail for $120 to $150 and are sold to international chains like Anthropologie.

Another model was the farmers of Nueva Ecija who formed a cooperative to produce 80 percent of the onions needed by fastfood giant Jollibee.

Aquino also announced that the Go Negosyo bill passed on third reading last July at the Senate.

If approved into law, he said the bill will require local government units to establish centers for entrepreneurs to gain access to financing, the market and mentorship. They are creating the implementing rules and regulations and expect it to be completed by September.

Pilot areas

There will be 10 pilot areas for the bill and Aquino said Cebu Province has been chosen as one of the pilot areas for this year.

Aquino admitted that many do not believe the Philippines can become a developed nation. But he pointed out that 10 years ago, it was labeled the “sick man of Asia” and no one could believe it became the fastest growing in Southeast Asia and the second in Asia.

“Who is to say that we cannot achieve this in 10 years?”

Aquino has other things in mind, such as instituting financial literacy into the curriculum of students, saying savings and investment are life skills that many ought to know. This is part of a Youth Entrepreneurship bill that has also passed on third reading in the Senate and is awaiting its version in the House of Representatives. The bill also has a provision that seeks to provide funds to be able to offer loans to startups.

Be enterprising

Aquino told participants that it is important for everyone to be enterprising, rather than just become entrepreneurs.

The participants also heard examples of these from furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue
and journalist Maria Ressa.

The afternoon held forums with different speakers sharing their experiences such as Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, DHL country manager Yati Abdullah, Profood president Justin Uy, Koh Onozawa of Loud Basstard, Rey Calooy of RNC Marketing, Bunny Pages of Pages Holdings, Jay Aldeguer of the Islands Group, Johnlu Koa of French Baker, Edmund Liu of Basic Graphics and Jan Rodriguez of Ila Puti and Irie Gastropubliko. Topics included idea generation to starting to grow a business, innovating the channel for a critical mass, innovating customer branding strategies and innovating operational processes to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 01, 2014.


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