COLUMN:  A  CALL  TO  ARMS

CEBU, FEBRUARY 29, 2008
(STAR) ONE STEP UP By Chris Tio - I would like to interrupt my column on concepts series by issuing this call to arms. Recent scandals and sordid allegations of corruption in high places have left a bad taste in the mouth. The Philippines is once again at the tipping point of another crisis. It may not be said often or aloud. But you see it in the faces of businessmen. You see it in the callousness of our officials. You see it in the desperation of our people. We know we should care, but do we really? We often hear the lament of the apathy of our middle class and our youth.

I therefore would like to issue a clarion call. We need to start a new revolution, a new people power revolution to empower and build a new class of people, a class of entrepreneurs. Our country more than ever needs to build a large and successful class of young entrepreneurs. Michael Gerber, author and business coach, says, “The entrepreneur in us sees opportunities everywhere we look, but many people see only problems everywhere they look.”

Entrepreneurs care about the environment that they exist in. they care whether or not their taxes are being spent wisely, they debate on the effects of the levels of the peso. They care about how legislation can be better crafted. We need more entrepreneurs.

We need more entrepreneurs that will generate new jobs and spur creativity and dynamism into local economies. Ross Perot hit the nail in the head when he said, “Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers. They will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.” The Government should put equal or more attention into strengthening and developing local entrepreneurship, over attracting foreign investment.

Barack Obama is energizing the United States with his vision and charisma. He has been compared to America’s King Arthur, the late President Jack Kennedy. He said it best, “People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better.” We need leaders that can call up this vision and energize the public. We need leaders that can inspire and not just command.

I hope that our Government will also sit up and listen. The Government needs to encourage the banking system to increase funding for SME’s. The private sector needs to do their part. The private banking system has to find a way to relax the stringent requirements that would allow easier access to capital for many starting entrepreneurs.

Muhammad Yunus , the founder of Grameen Bank, started a revolution. Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides poor people––mainly women––with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty. He humbly says, “I did something that challenged the banking world. Conventional banks look for the rich; we look for the absolutely poor. All people are entrepreneurs, but many don't have the opportunity to find that out.”

Roberto Aboitiz of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation says, “Our country today faces a lot of problems: there is poverty, the declining state of education, and graft and corruption. These challenge not only the government, but the community as well. In all these scenarios, involvement from the private and business sectors are needed, not to take the place of the government, but to help in nation building”.

How many small businesses are unable to take off because of lack of access to capital. But it is not only that, lack of technical support, lack of access to training, etc. Joey Concepcion is trying to do his part. He together with other outstanding entrepreneurs are storming the country with their GONEGOSYO campaign. He stated, “It’s an advocacy that will bring about a mindset change needed by many Filipinos to transform their pessimism into optimism.”.” He adds, “The start of building an enterprising Filipino culture will surely propel this nation to greater heights.”

We need more people to get involved. We as a nation have to collectively reflect on our situation and find a solution to break this perpetual boom bust cycle. I believe the solution lies in our young people. We need a revolution, a new people power of young entrepreneurs that will propel this country forward. Mabuhay po ang Pilipino.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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