“SMEs practically form the backbone of the Philippine economy. They provide not only goods and services but also create wealth, livelihood and employment. Supporting the advocacy for entrepreneurship is an opportunity for nation-building,” says Kat Luna-Abelarde, PLDT vice-president and head of PLDT SME Nation.
PLDT SME Nation carefully selected these twelve Pinoy bossings so that their success stories can become sources of encouragement for Filipino entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. By sharing their stories, these Pinoy bossings would be providing examples and insights that may help SMEs (small-to-medium scale entrepreneurs) become successful as well.
Benjamin Liuson of The Generics Pharmacy. Benjamin Liuson is growing The Generics Pharmacy (TGP) at a phenomenal rate. The Generics Pharmacy has expanded its network from a single main outlet into 840 branches—all in a span of three years. In contrast, it’s biggest competitor took 65 years to establish its 700 branches. Liuson credits franchising as a crucial growth driver of his business—but he also says that TGP is successful because it serves a basic need of Filipinos: quality, effective and affordable medicines. Incredibly, the Philippines has the highest cost of medicines in Asia, second only to Japan. TGP sells medicines for as low as 25% to even 10% of the retail price in regular drug stores. For example, a tablet of paracetamol costs P0.60 at TGP while the same costs P3 at other drug stores. Liuson considers his business an advocacy as well. “Medicines and health care are a basic right, not a privilege, of Filipinos. By offering low-priced, yet effective medicines, TGP is contributing to the health of Filipino families and the entire nation,” says Liuson.
Gardy Cruz of Pansit Malabon Express. Pancit is a staple Pinoy dish. It’s everywhere! So how do you make it a successful business with so may others making the same product? Gardy Cruz already had a home-cooked pancit recipe that has been the basis of a successful family business for 100 years—so what he did was introduce a new concept of bringing it to the customer. He served his delicious pancit, fresh and hot and fast, on food carts—hence the term “express”. Before Cruz came up with his revolutionary idea, you could only get delicious, hot pancit at a good restaurant. Cruz came up with a way to make his pancit a fastfood item—without sacrificing freshness, taste and quality. Pansit Malabon Express began in year 2000 and it now has 56 branches all over the country—and it’s still growing.
Jay Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs. He’s the main man of Island Souvenirs, a tourism themed shop that he founded in 1992. Island Souvenirs clicked mainly because the look and quality of its products stood out from the competition: while other souvenir shops featured ethnic-looking, earthy tribal designs (the sort that inspired the sound of tribal drumbeats in one’s head), Aldeguer chose to portray the Philippines as a sunny, tropical, cheerful country. He splashed his shop and products with the kaleidoscope colors of the Pinoy fiesta, the verdant greens of the tropics, sea-blues, and bright, sunshine yellows and oranges. The result: a 300 percent profit margin after just one year. Island Souvenirs is still going strong and Aldeguer has added even more business ventures.
Joey Concepcion of Joey Pepperoni and Founding Trustee of Go Negosyo. Coming from a family of successful entrepreneurs, one might think that Joey Concepcion had it easy. On the contrary, Concepcion says he didn’t even get any allowance as a student. He says his father wanted him to learn to make his own money at an early age so he could get what he wanted. Even though Concepcion is already President and CEO of RFM Foods Corporation, he still gets inspired to set up small businesses. One of these is Joey Pepperoni, a pizza chain. “I enjoy building brands. I thought of Joey Pepperoni as something that I could set-up and later pass on to my kids, if they want it,” he says. Concepcion is also one of the founders of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, which created the brand “GoNegosyo” as the name for a movement that they have started. This movement aims to help more Filipinos become entrepreneurs and turn the Philippines into a nation of millionaires.
Les Reyes of Reyes HairCutters. He made his fortune setting up a chain of salons. Reyes started Reyes HairCutters in 2001 and quickly grew the business as a franchise. His secret? Offering quality, branded products and expert services at affordable prices. He tapped the lower-income market, which at the time could only dream of expensive salon services, or make do with cheap salons that did more harm than good. Today, Reyes HairCutters has 200 branches in the Philippines, one outlet in the U.K. and will open other branches abroad. Business has been so good that Reyes HairCutters has now cut across income levels, expanding up to the higher-income markets and positioning itself as a Family Salon and the Salon ng Bayan.
Louie and Dulzzi Gutierrez of Silverworks. Creativity, passion, inventiveness and business savvy combine to make Silverworks the leading silver fashion accessories manufacturer and retailer in the Philippines. Siblings Louie and Dulzzi Gutierrez come from a family of jewelers—but they decided to offer, way back in 1994, an alternative to the more expensive gold jewelry and accessories. The idea was a hit: silver jewelry became a more affordable and more standout choice for young people who did not have enough money to buy gold. Silverworks maintains its competitive edge through designs that range from the stylish and chic, to classic and even the edgy. Silverworks hit it big because it had time on its side—the mid-1990s being a period of recession, when people were looking for more affordable items. Louie and Dulzzi also say that getting proper training and education—he’s a gemologist, she’s a fine arts graduate—helps a lot. They also form two aspects of the business, the creative side (Dulzzi) as well as the business side (Louie), and they combine their strengths well. Silverworks has recently introduced its Sexy Steel line of accessories.
“Mother” Lily and Roselle Monteverde of Regal Films. She loved movies ever since she was in elementary school—and would even cut classes just to watch movies. Lily Monteverde, or “Mother” as she is endearingly called, also had a knack for business at a young age: she sold rice cakes as a child. After she got married, she started a popcorn stall business. With her earnings, she produced her first movie in the 1970s. Today, she’s one of the most powerful figures in Philippine show business and a legend in the history of Filipino cinema. She has produced at least 300 films.
Raphael and Jenni Soon of North Park. You can really turn your passion into profit. North Park bossings Raphael and Jenni Soon love good food and this inspired them to set up their own Chinese cuisine themed restaurant in 1994. North Park stood out from the competition with its modern look, pristine yet tasteful interiors, offering a surprisingly wide range of delicious noodles and dimsum treats. It captured the middle to high-end markets with its quality dishes at surprisingly affordable prices. Before North Park came along, one either went to a gourmet-level Chinese restaurant, or hole-in-the-wall eateries in Chinatown to enjoy good Chinese food. North Park brought good quality and affordable pricing that’s still a hit with its diners. There are now 16 North Park branches.
Ronald Pineda of Folded & Hung. This bossing would have been a dentist if he didn’t get into the clothing and fashion business. Pineda is a licensed dentist but his passion for selling, clothing and fashion spurred him to establish Folded & Hung or F&H. Pineda’s store has a solid reputation for being trendy and chic in its choice of apparel, accessories and perfumes—if you’re a middle-class fashion newbie or even an upper-class fashion maven who finds the prices of foreign brands outrageous, then F&H offers what you need. “I got this from F&H” is now part of fashion speak and makes a legit statement fashion-wise. F&H now has 35 outlets in the biggest malls across the Philippines. Pineda says the secret to succeeding in the apparel and accessories business is to be constantly creative and inventive. “The only way to predict the future is to invent it,” says Pineda.
Vicki Belo and Cristalle Henares of Belo Medical Group and Belo Essentials. Simply put, there would be no beauty industry in the Philippines without Vicki Belo. Vicki Belo introduced revolutionary methods in liposuction and other cosmetic surgeries and treatments as she focused her practice into the beauty aspects of dermatology—in contrast to other doctors who focus on the clinical side. There are now seven Belo clinics in Manila. Belo says her dream is “to make everybody beautiful” because it is a great equalizer. “Beautiful people have an unfair advantage over those who are average-looking,” she says. Belo took this mission to another level by introducing Belo Essentials, a collection that brings beauty products and treatments to a more mass market—giving even maids the chance to experience “beauty by Belo.” Belo now has an able partner in her daughter Cristalle, who helps in developing the Belo Essentials line.
The Ultimate Bossing
The list of PLDT SME Nation’s top entrepreneurs would not be complete without PLDT Chairman and now Burger King Philippines owner Manny “MVP” Pangilinan. As the head of the number one company in the Philippines, Pangilinan is the ultimate bossing role model for SMEs. Pangilinan also owns ABC-TV5, Cignal Digital Television and Smart Communications, the leading cellular network provider in the Philippines. Pangilinan says encouraging Filipino entrepreneurship is the best way to rescue millions from the grip of poverty. “I was born poor, but poor was not born in me. That’s why I say that being poor is nobody’s destiny. Every Pinoy can be a bossing and help create livelihood, jobs, and bring wealth to this nation. I would like to do my part in helping my countrymen move from poverty toward a more prosperous, abundant life,” says Pangilinan.
For more info on what PLDT SME Nation can offer your business, you may call 101-888 or visit www.pldtsme-nation.com.ph.