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Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2005 Finalists

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Small Business Entrepreneur 2005






Jonathan Jay P. Aldeguer
President
Islands Souvenirs, Inc.

Mr. Jonathan Jay Aldeguer, like many tourists, had a natural compulsion to buy souvenirs. It was on one of his travels, that his entrepreneurial eye spotted its universality and a huge potential for a new business. He realized that souvenirs comprised a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, yet, there was not a single major brand that offered premium quality souvenirs, particularly in the Philippines. The industry lacked creativity in design, visual merchandising, quality and branding.

In 1992, Mr. Aldeguer established Island Souvenirs. The shop deviated from the ethnic-looking designs which were the norm, and showcased the Philippines as a sunny and tropical country. He packaged his products as a totality of the unique experience of a locality, reflecting its dynamic personality. In just one year, Islands Souvenirs’ sales grew by 300% and expanded to malls and in various places around the country.

The company also began operating internationally and opened outlets in Japan, Macau, US and Singapore at the invitation of the Singaporean Government. Mr. Aldeguer has also created other tourism-oriented companies that complement Islands Souvenirs. These are Islands Souvenirs International, Inc.; Franchise Ventures, Inc.; Islands Pasalubong Center; and Destinations Media, Inc. He also embarked on co-branding marketing efforts in tourism-related activities with Cebu Pacific, ABS-CBN, Globe Telecom, SM and Sony Ericsson.

Mr. Aldeguer has received numerous recognitions for leading the company. He was the youngest to be awarded as TOYM for Business Entrepreneurship. He was also awarded as Entrepreneur Philippines’ 10 Most Outstanding Filipino Entrepreneurs and has received an Agora Award for Business Entrepreneurship. Recently, Mr. Aldeguer received recognition of International Young Design Entrepreneur of the Year – Philippines by the British Council. He was also given the Tourism Kalakbay Award and the Entrepreneur of the Year Tourism award by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Islands Souvenirs has been cited three times as the Outstanding Retailer of the Year by the Philippine Retailers Association and the Department of Trade and Industry for its excellence in visual merchandising, operational excellence, customer service and store concept. The company has also been named into the Outstanding Retailers Hall of Fame. In the next five years, Aldeguer envisions Islands Souvenirs as a one-stop shop which sells souvenirs, novelty items, food and travel services.

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Rico V. Brizuela
Chairman
Airlift Asia, Inc
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Mr. Rico Brizuela was working as a professional manager in the cargo division of an established logistics company when, 25 years ago, a nagging thought preoccupied his mind– that instead of just offering services and making profits, a business should be useful to the community and the country. Mr. Brizuela then decided to leave his employer and try his idea out on his own.

Mr. Brizuela co-founded Airlift Asia, Inc. in 1980. The company took advantage of the export boom in semiconductors and electronics, whose manufacturers became Airlift Asia’s premiere clients when it started. The company soon gained a reputation as an air cargo logistics company that provided quality services. Under Mr. Brizuela’s direction, Airlift Asia differentiated its services in a highly competitive industry by offering value-added and value-formoney services, and ensuring strong customer relationships. “Quality beyond excellence” is Airlift Asia’s corporate motto, and it is also Mr. Brizuela’s personal philosophy. The focus on quality earned for Airlift Asia in 1997 its ISO certification from the SGC Yarsley International Certification Services Ltd. of the United Kingdom. Airlift Asia is also the only Filipino member company of the World Air Cargo Organization.

In the 1990s, when multinational players such as DHL, Nippon Express, FedEx, and Geologistics entered the scene, Airlift Asia intensified its customer relations, offering services tailored to the individual needs of its customers. It also provided clients with manpower to perform certain services such as monitoring of purchase orders and customer service, shipping, receiving, and warehousing. It was this service innovation, which the multinational competitors could not offer as quickly as Airlift Asia could, that kept the company among the top five airfreight forwarders in the country.

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Woman Entrepreneur 2005






Ruth S. Callanta
President
Center for Community Transformation

With an Anthropology degree from the University of the Philippines and a Masters in Management from the Asian Institute of Management, Ms. Ruth Callanta found herself very much involved in social development. She was a volunteer for many relief and development agencies and volunteer organizations. In addition, she worked with institutions like the Asian Development Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture and Development, where she accumulated a wealth of knowledge on development strategies on poverty alleviation, strategic management of corporate philanthropy, and other related methods on social development.

Ms. Callanta believed that the crucial element absent from development work for the poor can be summed up in one word – faith. This led her to advocate a faith-based program for community transformation. She began an informal network of development practitioners who shared the same philosophy and in 1992, that network was formally established as the Center for Community Transformation (CCT).

Ms. Callanta worked on a development model that combines, in a sustainable manner, the provision of spiritual nurturing and economic and social interventions to poor communities. Since it was created and is managed and funded by Filipinos, it enables its proponents to utilize their own resources without having to rely on foreign grants and funding.

CCT establishes itself in communities in three distinct phases. These phases are supported by structured entities such as the CCT NGO (program for its spiritual development), the CCT Credit Cooperative (program for micro-financing, housing, insurance, social heath), the Visions of Hope Foundation (program for education and health for CCT children), and the CCT Heritage Tours (program for cultural and historical exposure to various places in the Philippines).

As a result of these programs, CCT has disbursed loans amounting to P1 billion. The organization’s members effectively pay their loans, as proven by its 98.5% repayment rate. From a 10-office network with 4,300 community partners in 1999, CCT currently has 130 offices nationwide and over 100,000 beneficiaries.

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Guillermo C. Choa
President
Property Company of Friends, Inc.

Mr. Guillermo Choa traces his entrepreneurial roots to his high school days in Pasay. He grew up helping in the family’s construction supply business, from carrying heavy loads to sourcing inventory from all over the country. The Choa family eventually went into real estate development, and Mr. Choa and his brother formed their own property development company – Confed Properties, Inc.

Having gained experience in real estate development, Mr. Choa established Property Company of Friends, Inc., or Pro-Friends, in 1999. It is one of the lowest-cost and fastest producers of housing, and has provided 10,000 homes to mid-level families mostly in Cavite. Pro-Friends is able to capture different markets by focusing on projects using smaller land areas of about five to 20 hectares.

Dedicating 10% of its employees to research and development has led Pro-Friends to use precast technology to quickly deliver houses that meet company and regulatory standards. Pre-cast components are produced on-site to minimize storage, production, and transportation costs. The company has innovatively integrated fibers, which were originally meant to patch cracks, to its wall systems. Pro-Friends also creates its own designs and operating systems.

Pro-Friends builds and manages residential communities to ensure their continuous development. Each Pro-Friends community boasts of a clubhouse, swimming pool, basketball court, and chapel. The company even maintains a budget for community-based activities such as sports clinics, holiday parties, and cooking lessons.

Pro-Friends currently has 13 projects in Cavite and Bulacan. The company is also concurrently working on a project with Gawad Kalinga. Pro-Friends has plans to expand to urban areas, and in fact has begun developing new subdivisions in Pampanga and Batangas. However, the company will continue to cater to the housing needs market. To encourage entrepreneurship, employees are allowed to invest in the company’s projects, and part of their salary goes to an employees’ savings fund. Pro-Friends is aiming for an IPO in 2010.

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Mars C. Chua
President
Sportshouse International Leisure, Inc.

After graduating with a degree in Medical Technology, Mr. Mars Chua tried his hand at buying and selling merchandise with his brothers. It was during this time that he came up with the concept of specializing in exclusively selling sports equipment. The practice then was for stores to carry sports equipment along with musical instruments. In 1983, Mr. Chua established Sportshouse International Leisure, Inc.

Mr. Chua introduced a novel approach to selling sports equipment. His initial objective was to make sports equipment and merchandise accessible to customers. Products were displayed on open shelves and on the floor so that customers could handle them before purchasing. In letting customers try out the equipment, Sportshouse was able to create a relaxed environment and sold more products.

In line with Mr. Chua’s mission to “bring life into sports and sports into people’s lives,” Sportshouse organized events that brought games like badminton, darts, table tennis, and boxing competitions into places where people gather, like shopping malls. Sportshouse also conducted programs in cooperation with local barangays. One such program is “Sports Against Drugs,” which was aimed at the youth who were provided with sports equipment to encourage more active lifestyles. The company also stages an annual Corporate and Celebrity Badminton Cup which has become popular with the business community.

Mr. Chua’s leadership has won for Sportshouse several awards including the “Parangal ng Bayan” 2004 Consumer’s Choice Award as the Most Outstanding Sports and Outdoor Retailer of the Year, the 2004 National Consumer’s Award as Top Athletic Sports and Equipment Store and the 2004 Most Outstanding Retailer of the Year Medium Scale category of the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Retailer’s Association (PRA). Mr. Chua also currently serves as the President of the PRA.

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Alejandra C. Clemente
Chairman
Rajah Tours Philippines, Inc. and Rajah Travel Corporation

More than 30 years ago, when tourists did not have handy Lonely Planet travel book guides, nor the Internet to surf for vacation destinations, plane reservations and hotel bookings in the Philippines, Ms. Alejandra Clemente was already providing inbound travelers with such services and much more through Rajah Tours. That early, she already saw the potential of tourism as a top-earning industry for the country.

After receiving her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas, Ms. Clemente practiced law for two years before joining the Board of Travel & Tourism in 1962. After getting married, she established Rajah Tours, an inbound tour operating company, at the Ambassador Hotel in 1972. She started with only P10,000 capital and three staff members. She chose the name Rajah, derived from the highest-ranking monarch in the Philippines during the pre-colonial period, because her mission was to provide travel services fit for royalty.

During Rajah’s early years, Ms. Clemente personally oversaw operations, concentrated on the quality of service, and interacted with their foreign clients. From the 1970s through the early 1980s, Rajah Tours handled an average of 1,000 tourists a day. To strengthen the company’s marketing efforts overseas, Rajah Tours opened an office in Tokyo in 1978 and in San Francisco, California in 1983.

In 1986, Rajah Tours, along with Rajah Travel Corporation, Trans-Inter Corporation, and the Philippine Congress Organizing Center formed the Rajah Group of Companies. Operating as a one-stop shop, the group works with precise coordination, making the Rajah Group of Companies the biggest tourism-oriented organization in the country. In 1995, Rajah Travel partnered with Carlson Wagonlit, one of the world’s largest corporate travel management companies.

Rajah Tours is, by far, the country’s oldest and largest travel company in terms of sales volume. It is also recognized as the Number One inbound tour operator in the country. It is the only Kalakbay Hall of Famer as the Inbound Tour Operator of the Year. The company was the first recipient of Best Travel Agency: Philippines in the 1998 Travel Awards organized by Miller Freeman, the publisher of TTG Asia and PTN Asia.

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Ricardo Z. Cuna
President & CEO
Milkin Corporation

Born and raised in Manila, Mr. Ricardo Cuna was exposed to the various businesses that his grandfather ran, including Golden Taxi. It was only after he completed his undergraduate and graduate studies, and after working in the banking industry that he decided to set up his company, Milkin Corporation, in 1993.

Milkin Corporation is a manufacturer and distributor of Fiorgelato (the Pure Italian Ice Cream) in the Philippines. Upon taking over, Mr. Cuna modified the business model by concentrating on offering the products to the public at very affordable prices, while retaining the high quality of the ingredients. Although Fiorgelato uses imported ingredients, it is locally produced using the original process of Italian gelato-making.

After a dozen years since Milkin was founded, Fiorgelato now boasts of 50 outlets nationwide. The brand is served in scooping stations and kiosks in malls, schools, offices and street-level stores. Milkin continues to cater specially prepared ice cream to well-known restaurants and hotels. The company is also in the process of establishing its international markets through its five-year expansion program that aims to create business partners in selected countries. Mr. Cuna has recently started operating a coffee shop in Guam that would pave the way for building the brand in other Asian markets. He has also opened Gelateria, a snack bar and ice cream shop. To address health trends, he has also made his product low in fat with no added sugar.

Mr. Cuna is passionate about his business. He is constantly refining his knowledge of ice cream and has attended courses at various ice cream universities. He is currently earning a Mini Masters in Franchise Management Certification from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Mr. Cuna is a founding member and current President of the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. and was cited as one of the Ten Outstanding Filipino Entrepreneurs for 2004 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Mary Ann Cruz Dela Vega
Managing Partner
Bluer Than Blue Joint Ventures Co.

As a seven year-old girl, Ms. Mary Ann Cruz Dela Vega would help out in the family’s store – Balikbayan Handicrafts – which started as a stall under the Quiapo Bridge. From this small, cramped space she saw how her parents built the business through sheer hard work, perseverance and determination.

After working in a bank for three years, Ms. Dela Vega decided in 1993 that banking was not her calling. The handicraft business beckoned and she joined the family trade which catered primarily to tourists. Ms. Dela Vega, however, was convinced that there are other innovative ways to design Philippine handicraft that would appeal to local consumers and help change the perception that such products are only for the export and tourist markets. In time, she hit upon her breakthrough idea. With a partner and P50,000 initial capital, Ms. Dela Vega set up in 1997 the Bluer Than Blue Joint Ventures Co., and opened the first Regalong Pambahay shop in SM Southmall.

Ms. Dela Vega wanted Regalong Pambahay to be different from the start. Its merchandise comprises Philippine-made home décor, accessories and gift items that are innovations of traditional handicrafts. Moreover, Ms. Dela Vega sells her products at reasonable prices and her designs have a global, export-quality, and youthful appeal. Target customers are newlyweds, homemakers and young individuals who live on their own.

Today, Bluer Than Blue Joint Ventures Company oversees a chain of 23 stores that sell mainly handcrafted Filipino novelty product lines under the brand names Regalong Pambahay, egg (fashion accessories for teens and young adults), and Simplejoys (creative notions). Ms. Dela Vega plans to expand with more stores, concentrate on product development, launch new product lines, tap the export markets through the Internet, and improve its management scheme.

For her innovation and creativity, Ms. Dela Vega received citations from the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Retailers Association. In 2001, she was awarded as the Most Promising Retailer for Non-Fashion and in 2004, as an Outstanding Filipino Retailer Small Scale Non-Fashion.

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Catherine V. Delantar
Founder and VP-Finance
Natures Legacy Eximport, Inc.

Ms. Catherine Delantar is the innovative visionary behind Natures Legacy. She and her husband, Pedro, were engaged for three years in manufacturing hand-carved products using mainly Mactan stone, before establishing Natures Legacy Eximport, Inc. in 1996.

In the beginning, the company’s products were mass-produced using the stone-casting process to achieve consistency in the quality of their products. However, the stone-casting process resulted in products that were heavier and less durable than Mactan stone. Ms. Delantar found a solution to this dilemma. Her discovery, called Naturescast, is a product made from agri-forest waste and enhanced by industrial materials. It is combined with shell, wrought iron, glass, roots of plants, twigs, and other media to produce unique home and garden accessories for export.

From a backyard business in 1996, Natures Legacy has expanded into a manufacturing firm with 120 employees as of 2005. It now exports its products to Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Asia. The company also trains local residents to identify the raw materials needed for production. Once they are familiar with the indigenous materials used for Natures Legacy’s products, they are able to gather these in the nearby woods and mountainside and sell them to the company.

To survive the competitive export environment, Ms. Delantar acquired Intellectual Property (IP) registrations with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines for all its innovative products and processes. It also has 23 Philippine patents and an international brand. She is very passionate about protecting Naturescast and her original designs because the company has experienced how intellectual piracy can affect their business.

Ms. Delantar’s ingenuity has won for Natures Legacy the Golden Shell Award for excellence in Design and Manufacturing in December 2004. The company also won the Best Booth Display Katha Award during the October 2001 Manila International F.A.M.E., a Citation Katha Award in the April 2004 Manila International F.A.M.E., and a nomination for Best Product Design for the Katha Award in the 2003 Manila International F.A.M.E.

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Roberto R. Gandionco
Chairman and CEO
Julie’s Franchise Corporation

Before joining the family’s bakery business in 1985, Mr. Roberto Gandionco spent ten years as a marketing and sales professional with Union Carbide Philippines. His experience in preparing business plans and market studies for Union Carbide helped him think like an entrepreneur. When the time came for him to help expand their mom-and-pop operation, he was more than ready to assume the responsibility.

Julie’s Bakeshop first delighted Cebuano consumers with their tasty and affordable products in 1981. His mother, Julia “Julie” Gandionco, set up the bakeshop to supply her canteen concessionaire business. Seeing how she was profiting more from the bakeshop than the canteens, Mrs. Gandionco opened a branch near Aznar Coliseum.

When her son, Roberto, joined the business, the family already owned and operated 10 independent branches. Mr. Gandionco focused on how the family could support more branches by streamlining the business and centralizing purchases. He then established the training, marketing, and construction departments. To provide consistent quality products Mr. Gandionco decided to standardize the bakeshop’s recipes. When financing became an issue, the family created a sinking fund which would support bakery-wide projects.

By 1987, Julie’s Bakeshop had 27 branches in Cebu. Franchising to third parties began that year. They also opened a store in Iloilo, their first outside of Cebu. The chain expanded in Visayas and Mindanao, reaching Misamis, Davao, Butuan, and Leyte. By the mid-1990s, Julie’s Bakeshop opened its first store in Metro Manila. With stiff competition in Cebu, the Gandioncos offered full franchising support to its franchisees by establishing Julie’s Franchise Corporation, its franchising company, in 1997.

Julie’s Bakeshop now claims to be the largest neighborhood bakery chain in the country with almost 500 outlets nationwide (120 branches in Manila and 230 all over Luzon). The company has its own fully operational testing facility which churns out 250 varieties of baked products. The company’s ultimate vision is to have a Julie’s Bakeshop in every town. It is targeting 250 new outlets in 2006.

Under Mr. Gandionco’s leadership, the store received the 2004 Agora Award for Large-Scale Entrepreneurship and the 2004 Franchise Excellence Awards Special Citation for Inspiring Entrepreneurs. Gandionco was one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Entrepreneur 10” in 2003.

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Ret. Judge Esperanza F. Garcia
Chairman
Cebu CFI Community Cooperative

Ret. Judge Esperanza Garcia was born in Leyte, grew up during the Japanese occupation and witnessed the liberation of the Philippines. Survival during the war left a very deep impression on her person and the experience inspired her to pursue a career that would allow her to serve others.

That career was law and she eventually joined the Court of First Instance (CFI) in Cebu where she rose through the ranks. In 1970, when she was still a Clerk of Court, Judge Garcia helped organize the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative (Cebu CFI). The cooperative aimed to provide affordable financing alternatives to CFI employees. With a capital of only P200, the cooperative was first opened exclusively to CFI employees. Its primary purpose was to teach its members how to save and loan responsibly.

Judge Garcia assumed the chairmanship of the cooperative upon her retirement as CFI judge in 1988. As chairman, she is committed to creating a cooperative that is responsive to the economic, social, political, ecological, and spiritual needs of the members as well as the community they operate in. Besides granting loans and earning dividends from investments, Cebu CFI has also invested in other cooperatives and banks. It provides assistance to other cooperatives in conducting job training for their officers, transfer of technology, and management and financial consultation. It also established a school complex that is open to its members and the general public. Medical assistance and academic scholarships have also been granted by the cooperative. To date, Cebu CFI’s assets total P925 million. At the end of each calendar year, members can get as much as 20% dividend on their contribution.

Cebu CFI had 29 original members when it was founded 36 years ago. Today, membership has grown to 22,000, making it the largest cooperative in the Visayas. In the next few years, Judge Garcia hopes that Cebu CFI can expand its reach by opening more branches all over the country to increase both its membership and assets.

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Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2005

Tourism Entrepreneur 2005


Lance Y. Gokongwei
President and CEO
Cebu Air, Inc.

Mr. Lance Gokongwei grew up in a family of entrepreneurs where business was regular fare at the dinner table. He cites his father—John Gokongwei, Jr.—as his strongest influence and mentor, and who encouraged him and his sisters to start their own businesses.

Cebu Pacific Air — popularly known as Cebu Pacific — was established in 1996, with Mr. Gokongwei assuming leadership from the very start. With three secondhand DC-9 aircraft, Cebu Pacific began operations with 24 flights daily to and from three destinations. It entered the market as a low-cost alternative to the country’s only carrier by offering great value service at fares lower by as much as 40%, and on-time service reliability of 90%. Just 18 months after, Cebu Pacific greeted its one millionth passenger onboard. The airline has flown 12 to 13 million passengers since it started operations—two million passengers in 2005 alone. Its fleet currently consists of seven DC-9s, four Airbus 319s, two Airbus 320s, and two Boeing 757s. The low-cost carrier now flies to Hong Kong and Korea as well.

Cebu Pacific’s affordable rates have attracted frequent flyers. It also has a substantial business following due to its on-time performance. Cebu Pacific redefined in-flight entertainment with the introduction of “Fun Flights.”

Under Mr. Gokongwei’s nine-year leadership, Cebu Pacific achieved phenomenal success in the local aviation scene. During the airline’s first three to five years of operations, the number of people traveling increased by 20 to 25%. Fares have also decreased, pricing has been standardized, andticket distribution networks have widened significantly. Cebu Pacific is the first low-fare airline in the country, and the first Philippine carrier to develop an e-ticket facility for use in its domestic flights. It is the second largest airline in the country in terms of capacity offered, traffic carried, and revenues generated. More recently, it tied up with GE and Singapore Airlines to decrease maintenance costs and increase retention. Once its refleeting with 17 new Airbus aircraft is completed in 2009, Cebu Pacific will have the youngest fleet in Asia. The airline also plans to fly to new Asian destinations, offer fares as low as those of maritime transport vessels, and introduce ticketing and reservations through SMS technology.

Mr. Gokongwei is a member of the Young Presidents Organization, and an affiliate of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders for Tomorrow Program. He was also a The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee in 2000. Steering Cebu Pacific for nearly a decade prepared Mr. Gokongwei for the leadership of JG Summit Holdings which he assumed in 2001.

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Emerging Master Entrepreneur 2005






Johnlu G. Koa
Founder and CEO
The French Baker, Inc.

Mr. Johnlu Koa, founder of The French Baker, had an academic career before his bread business took off. He earned his MBA from the University of the Philippines (UP) after earning a degree in Business Administration from the same university. While earning his master’s degree, Koa taught Business Administration in UP, and was later appointed Secretary of the College of Business Administration.

It was during a trip to Europe that he was inspired to create a boulangerie for Filipinos. In 1989, he opened the first French Baker in SM City North EDSA which offered a wide variety of bread products at very affordable prices.

In 1991, the French Baker launched its quick service restaurants. The menu includes Koa’s creations, and products are prepared fresh at the store. Koa imported German coffee and French tea, and provided a coffee garden in his stores in SM Southmall and Megamall, in keeping with the French café ambience.

Sixteen years into the business, The French Baker now has 30 stores in Luzon and two stores in Metro Cebu. It has built a name that emits prestige in the baking industry. The French Baker bagged the Agora Award for Company of the Year given by the Philippine Marketing Association in 1994. It was also chosen as one of the strongest brands by Superbrands Philippines for 2003-2004.

Mr. Koa was named one of The Outstanding Young Filipinos in 1996 for his commitment to his company and to the baking industry. He was also honored by the UP College of Business Administration with the Alumni Association Professional Award in the field of Entrepreneurship. He was also named one of the 500 Great Asians of the 21st Century by the Bibliotheque Worldwide Organization in the US.

Mr. Koa has not yet run out of business ideas for the future. His plans for expansion include standalone stores, as well as outlets in Hong Kong and China. He also plans to set up a flour mill that will cater to the specific needs of the local baking industry, and for The French Baker to be listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

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Henry Lim Bon Liong
Chairman and CEO
SL Agritech

Mr. Henry Lim Bon Liong believes that addressing selfsufficiency in rice production will help largely agricultural countries such as the Philippines. This inspired him to establish his latest venture — SL Agritech.

SL Agritech is one of the forerunners of the Philippines’ own hybrid rice program. Though difficult to accomplish, successfully cultivating hybrid rice would reap greater yields than ordinary varieties. Mr. Lim bought 40 hectares of land in Laguna which he converted into a research and development facility and demonstration farm. In 2003, the company was able to develop SL-8H, the Philippines’ first hybrid rice variety.

To date, the company has three other seed production farms with a total land size of 1,500 hectares. As of 2004, it has distributed hybrid rice seeds to about 100,000 hectares of farmland, almost 50% of the 230,000 hectares of hybrid rice area in the country. The success of SL-8H led to the company’s accreditation by institutions like the International Rice Research Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, and the National Seed Industry Council.

The company exports rice to Switzerland and Dubai, and is considering exporting to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa. Plans are underway to cater to the fancy rice needs of hotels and fine dining restaurants. Mr. Lim would also like to extend the company’s reach to poverty-stricken and war-torn Mindanao.

SL Agritech’s vision, “rice technology for mankind,” is something that Mr. Lim takes to heart. He is convinced that the technology he has introduced could be an answer to the country’s widespread poverty and hunger. He also believes that the technology can generate more jobs and improve Filipino farmers’ economic and living conditions. Moreover, the technology uses environment-friendly farming and pest management practices to help preserve agricultural land for generations to come.

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Yolanda B. Pajaro
President & CEO
Via Venetto

Ms. Yolanda Pajaro never imagined that she would one day own a high-end shoe boutique named Via Venetto. A communications teacher with three growing children, she realized that her family could not survive on her teacher’s salary alone. In an effort to augment her income, she started selling Avon products. Her success in this venture made her realize that she may be good at selling.

With no business background, Ms. Pajaro turned to the path her mother-in-law had taken: the shoe business. In the 1970s, Marikina was already known as the hub of the Philippine shoe industry. Ms. Pajaro observed that Marikina shoemakers focused solely on the design. However, she believed that shoes could look good yet be comfortable and durable. With the first Via Venetto store in Greenhills, she decided to use imported heel tips as her initial innovation. To guarantee the high quality of their products, Via Venetto also offered to mend customers’ shoes free of charge if and when they needed repair from wear and tear.

The Via Venetto brand is associated with design innovation and value-for-money shoes. Research and development has always been a vital process in the making of Via Venetto shoes. Ms. Pajaro and her shoemakers regularly visit the major shoe fairs in Italy and Germany to observe the latest trends and technologies. She considers her products world-class in terms of craftsmanship, and her shoemakers have contributed immensely to this success.

The company exports rice to Switzerland and Dubai, and is considering exporting to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa. Plans are underway to cater to the fancy rice needs of hotels and fine dining restaurants. Mr. Lim would also like to extend the company’s reach to poverty-stricken and war-torn Mindanao.

Ms. Pajaro is committed not only to the survival, but also to the advancement of the Marikina shoe industry. She has resisted the path of least resistance that many have taken: to import cheap shoes to the detriment of the industry and the economy. Her personal goal is to instill in her children the idea that it is their responsibility to prove to the world that the Philippines can make better shoes than any other country.

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Socially Responsible Entrepreneur 2005






Ritche C. Rivera
President
RD Manufacturing Corporation

Being residents of General Santos City, Mr. Ritche Rivera and his family are no strangers to the bounty of the sea. The Riveras own RD Fishing Industry, the flagship company of RD Corporation and the holding and managing entity of a group of 42 companies and subsidiaries. When they were young, he and his brothers were already exposed to the operations of the business. After obtaining a business administration degree from the University of San Carlos, Mr. Rivera trained in their tuna-canning operations in Celebes. From there, he was sent on a special assignment to start RD Tuna Canners, RD Group’s tuna cannery in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Mr. Rivera stayed in PNG to oversee the setup and start up of operations. He spent his time mastering fishing and tuna-canning operations and helping to grow RD Tuna Canners. After five years abroad, he returned to his hometown to work on Philbest Canning Corporation, a tuna cannery acquired from RFM Corporation. In due time, he was able to turn the business around. Philbest became profitable in just two years after Mr. Rivera took over. Having applied everything he learned in PNG, this particular success gave him much fulfillment.

Today, RD Manufacturing is the top exporter of canned tuna. It is the only tuna-canning company in the Philippines that has its own fishing company and packaging facility. As such, it is able to assure its customers worldwide of meeting their volume requirements.

Under Mr. Rivera’s leadership, RD Manufacturing was awarded by the Office of the President of the Philippines for being the top export grosser in the agriculture sector in 2003. RD Manufacturing is accredited by the EFSIS, the premier third party independent inspection and certification service and one of the highest governing bodies in Europe, the International Group Safety, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

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Innovation Entrepreneur 2005






Engr. Gregorio G. Sanchez, Jr.
Founder
Lacto Bacillus Pafi Techno Resources Corp.

Engr. Gregorio G. Sanchez just had to find a way to keep alive the hundreds of piglets in his livelihood program. A kitchen experiment resulted in a food supplement formula that fattened the piglets and eventually, became the foundation of a full-blown business.

Engr. Sanchez is a civil engineer whose early career was in the construction business. After returning from the US in 1983 following the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, he became a street parliamentarian. Engr. Sanchez was subsequently appointed as Board Member of the Province of Cebu in 1986, reappointed in 2003, and became Vice Governor in 2004. It was between his appointments to the Provincial Board when Engr. Sanchez developed Lactopafi Probiotic Bacteria. He was led to do research on lacto bacillus after his pig dispersal program failed because of the piglets’ malnutrition. He performed countless experiments with only pots, pans and a small tank for equipment. His persistence yielded a food supplement that would suppress bad bacteria in livestock.

Those who witnessed the positive effect on livestock urged Sanchez to produce a health drink for human consumption. He developed Lacto Pafi Probiotic Bacteria, currently among the superior probiotic bacillus strains in the world (probiotics are dietary supplements containing live bacteria taken orally to restore beneficial bacteria to the body). Those who took the concoction claim to have been healed from various ailments.

Lacto Pafi’s reputation spread by word of mouth and through testimonies broadcast in local radio. The product was registered with the Bureau of Food and Drugs and Sanchez decided to manufacture it commercially. Engr. Sanchez also developed new products with the lactobacillus component such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and other personal care products. Lacto Pafi products have reached Norway, France, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, and the US. Engr. Sanchez is also breaking into the rest of the Southeast Asian region and China.

For his contributions to business and the community, he was awarded Most Outstanding Alumni of the University San Jose-Recoletos in 2003. In 2005, his product was cited as Most Outstanding Lactobacillus Health Drink and Best Pro-Biotic Supplement by the Philippine Marketing Excellence Award Group and the National Product Quality Excellence Awards Group, respectively. The product was approved in 2005 by the US Food and Drug Administration.

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Glenn O. Soco
President & Founder
Coffee Dream Company, Inc.

Born and raised in Cebu, Mr. Glenn Soco joined the family business after graduating with an industrial engineering degree from the University of San Carlos. He managed several of these businesses for some time but yearned to begin an enterprise on his own.

In 1996, with one partner and P90,000 as capital from his personal savings, Mr. Soco opened the first Coffee Dream outlet near the Ayala Center Cebu cinemas. His affordable product selections first appealed to the middle and lower income markets. Now, Coffee Dream’s regular customers represent a cross-section of society, including professionals, students, retirees, families, and artists. It has already captured the A & B market in the Visayas and Mindanao and is gaining a foothold in the lower B & C market. Coffee Dream also hopes to penetrate the D market.

As President & General Manager of Coffee Dream, Mr. Soco is determined to make his mark in the market. In fact, his mission is to make Coffee Dream a national brand and he is optimistic that he is positioned to achieve this goal. With only three tables and a few chairs when he served his first cup of coffee, he now heads a chain of 14 company-owned stores and 6 franchised outlets.

In a span of less than 10 years, Coffee Dream has grown into 20 outlets nationwide. Through his expertise in business development and marketing, Mr. Soco intends to dominate the Visayas and Mindanao market and to help revive the Filipino coffee industry. Mr. Soco envisions coffee drinking to become intrinsic to the Filipino lifestyle. He hopes to open 10 more outlets this year and to be the leading Filipino-owned coffee shop chain nationwide in three years.

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Young Entrepreneur 2005






Bryan C. Tiu
Founder
Teriyaki Boy, Inc.

Mr. Bryan Tiu grew up absorbing the entrepreneurial culture of Divisoria where his parents ran a textile business. Most of his father’s clients were Japanese and his exposure to them led to his appreciation of Japanese culture.

As an aficionado of Japanese cuisine, Mr. Tiu saw a gap between Japanese fine dining and low-end Japanese restaurants. He saw this gap as a potential niche and was confident that he could provide good Japanese food without necessarily hurting the diners’ pockets.

In 2001, Mr. Tiu established his first Japanese casual dining restaurant in Madison Square Greenhills. The restaurant was named Teriyaki Boy, introducing the image of an animated Japanese boy to appeal to a more relaxed target market. Teriyaki Boy started to attract adolescents and youngworking professionals. Since then, it has built a loyal following from the C and B markets. By 2005, Teriyaki Boy had grown into a chain of 10 restaurants in the Metro Manila area.

Teriyaki Boy’s swift and steady growth prompted Mr. Tiu to consider a merger with a company that could ensure Teriyaki Boy’s long-term presence in the industry. After a year of careful consideration, he signed a merger with the Lorenzo Group in late 2005. The Lorenzo Group now controls 70% of the Teriyaki Boy, and Mr. Tiu retains 30% ownership. This decision, he believes, was a major breakthrough in assuring Teriyaki Boy’s future by stabilizing its presence in the industry. The merger has also allowed Mr. Tiu to focus on the aspects of business closest to his heart: site development and research and development for Teriyaki Boy.

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Master Entrepreneur 2005






Alfredo M. Yao
Chairman
Zest-O Corporation

The eldest of six children, Mr. Alfredo Yao started to work at an early age to augment the family income. His father died when he was only 12 years old, and his mother’s earnings as a sidewalk vendor could not support the family’s needs. He would accompany his mother to Chinese gambling dens where he got balato (tips) from the players and met people from all walks of life. With the help of a relative, Mr. Yao was able to complete his elementary and high school education. He went to the Mapua Institute of Technology for college but had to leave after two years.

Mr. Yao did odd jobs and worked at a warehouse of a packaging company. On one of his many trips to a printing press where his cousin worked, Mr. Yao saw potential in the packaging business and decided to invest his time and money in a printing press. Solemar Commercial Press, a printing press for cellophane wrappers of biscuits and candies, was named after his mother and role model. It grew steadily during its first 20 years. Then in 1979, while visiting an exhibit in Europe, Mr. Yao discovered a new technology in packaging called “doy packs.” He saw promise in the technology and bought a machine. Mr. Yao tried to market the idea of doy packs to local juice manufacturers but there were no takers. To put the equipment to use, he started preparing fruit juice in his own kitchen. In 1980, Zest-O juice drink was launched.

Today, Zest-O juice drinks have a total of 12 different flavors and includes in its product line fruit sodas, purees, and kitchen condiments. Zest-O Corporation commands 80% of the total market for ready-to-drink juices in the country. The company also produces popular products like the Sunglo Juice Drink, Big 250 Juice Drink, and Plus! Juice Drink. It also exports mango purees to China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore, the US, and Europe. From 20 employees in a small corner of the Solemar compound, Zest-O Corporation now has over 1,000 workers in various offices and facilities nationwide.

The company’s success has even helped other industries prosper. Zest-O introduced dalandan (native orange) fruit sodas. All ingredients are sourced from local suppliers of fruits, helping revive the dwindling dalandan-growing business in Southern Luzon. A majority of the growers in these provinces have become contract growers for Zest-O. Its popularity has also penetrated the fashion industry. Handbags made of recycled Zest-O packs are exported to many countries. It has come to symbolize Filipino success and ingenuity while providing income to several women engaged in micro entrepreneurship.

The success of Zest-O has also inspired Mr. Yao to set up other businesses: Semexco Marketing, Inc., Harman Foods, Amchem Marketing, Inc. American Brands Philippines, Inc., SMI Development Corp.,
and Philippine Business Bank.

Mr. Yao was awarded the 2003 Centennial Taxpayer for Caloocan by the Caloocan Regional District Office and the 2005 Outstanding Business of Caloocan by the City of Caloocan.

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