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Go Negosyo
The Go Negosyo page presents Joey Concepcion’s weekly article, Ask Go Negosyo. Learn entrepreneurship from the country’s best and send us your questions for his personal reply.

Mentoring the agriculture sector

EMPOWERING FARMERS: Go Negosyo successfully hosted its 17th rollout of Mentor ME On Wheels at SM City Dasmariñas last May 24, which was attended by more than 800 mentees.

For the past year of bringing mentorship closer to every Filipino through our free one-on-one mentoring program called Mentor Me On Wheels (MMOW), we are proud to say that we have reached more aspiring and existing micro and small entrepreneurs in different cities and provinces.

The program has enabled us to extend our advocacy to those who are within the communities, but are untapped by the formal entrepreneurship programs offered. We have met people who are still in the process of deciding what business to pursue or those who have started their business already, but want to scale up. These are the usual stories of our mentees during our MMOW runs.

Aside from our usual mentoring on entrepreneurial mind setting and basic marketing, we also extend our scope of discussion to more focused sectors. We did two creativity and innovation roll-outs in Angeles, Pampanga (September 2018) and in Mandaluyong City (April) which were attended by entrepreneur-mentors who are in the creative industry, including fashion designers, painters, interior designers, stylists, and other artists. Our mentors helped aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who are also pursuing their passion in the arts as their businesses.

Recently, after presenting the three pillars of inclusive growth, which included tourism, agriculture, and digitalization, we thought of focusing our mentorship program to the agriculture sector which is still a developing industry nationwide. In our mission of creating an environment where inclusive growth is evident, we must also keep in mind our farmers, fishermen, and other agriculture stakeholders. They too must be part of the development we wish to see in the country.

Last May 24, Go Negosyo, together with our partners the Department of Agriculture (DA), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), brought mentorship on agriculture and entrepreneurship to Dasmariñas, Cavite. Region 4A (CALABARZON) has an active agricultural sector which brought in more than 800 mentees during the said roll out. This is one of the biggest turnouts in our MMOW program.

We were glad to have Sen. Miguel Zubiri, one of our staunch Go Negosyo advocates, join us during the mentoring session. Sen. Migs, who is an agribusiness graduate, encouraged our farmers to join cooperatives. He also mentored several agri-entrepreneurs who asked for his tips and advise on how to improve their harvest and their business.

During his speech, Sen. Migs shared, “I’m just here to support the great efforts of Go Negosyo and the Mentor Me program. Sir Joey, I’ll tell you, this should be encapsulated or it should be made part of the government’s program. Hindi lamang sa administrasyon ng ating mahal na pangulo, President Duterte, but in all other administrations to come. Mentor Me program should be the key factor in inclusive growth.”

DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, who has been supporting Go Negosyo since its agriculture mentorship program, also shared encouraging words. “Go Negosyo is a special and unique effort. It is a national undertaking built on a Filipino’s greatest treasure and that is the ability to care...So the patterns of cooperation, mentorship, and assistance, this movement has started and is building a new sense of enterprise and community among us.”

I have mentored Jemil Araos from Los Baños, Laguna. When his father died from diabetes in 2015, he left his career as a commercial landscaper to become a farmer. He now grows insulin plants, key lime, and other fruit-bearing trees. I also mentored Emmelyn Rubrico who has a mushroom farm business which she manufactures into chicharron, sandwich spreads, and is now starting to make a mushroom jerky.

Our mentors, some of whom traveled all the way from Manila, listened and gave advice to all mentees who attended the program. The mentors include: Rosalind Wee, president of W Group of Companies; Henry Lim Bon Liong, CEO of SL Agritech; Winston Uy, CEO of Universal Leaf; Ruth Novales, vice president of Nestle; Toto Barcelona, president of Harbest Agribusiness Inc., Josie Costales, chairwoman of Costales Nature Farms; Olivia Limpe-Aw, president of Destileria Limtuaco; and 90 more mentors.

We are very happy with the turnout. This is a testament that the agriculture sector needs our help. We have to improve their lives and make the sector more sustainable despite its many challenges. If we really want to change the landscape of prosperity for our country, we must pay attention and give importance to our farmers and other players in agriculture. The Philippines, as an agricultural country, can become an even stronger player in the ASEAN, if we align our efforts to ensure that innovation in the field is supported and that the programs we develop can sustain growth.

Because of this success, we are looking at having another mentorship on agriculture. Watch out for our next MMOW rollouts!
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