Written by Susan Agustin, Go Negosyo
To kick of National Women’s Month, Go Negosyo sa Radyo aired a femme-powered episode on March 1 with two phenomenal women entrepreneurs as guests. Hosts Sen. Bam Aquino & DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla were joined by Emma Imperial of Imperial Homes and Rossana Llenado of AHEAD Tutorial and Review Center. Both have been previously awarded by Go Negosyo (Imperial in 2015 and Llenado in 2016) for being women entrepreneurs worth emulating.
On March 30, Go Negosyo will award another batch of women in the Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur Awards 2017 which will be held in the prestigious Malacañan Palace. Much like Imperial and Llenado, the women who will be given recognition are those who have sparked significant progress and inspired change in the entrepreneurial community.
Sen. Bam and DJ Cheska began the episode by setting the tone for the listeners. At the end of the hour, they hoped to have uplifted the listeners and opened their eyes to the nuances of women entrepreneurs’ experiences.
Imperial Homes Group of Companies
Emma Imperial was the first to share her story. She is a well-decorated and respected CEO in the realty industry wherein her male counterparts mostly dominate. Imperial shared that at the onset of her career, she had to prove herself as someone worth paying attention to. “Big developers are usually male and the engineers that work for me are mostly male as well.” Despite these odds, Imperial has managed to lead her company to becoming well-recognized globally. With recognitions under her name like Biz News Asia 2016 Entrepreneurship Awardee and Filipina Women Network’s 100 Most Influential Filipinas 2015, it is an understatement to say that Imperial is at the top of her game.
Likewise, her company is equally laudable and has even received international attention. Imperial Homes Group of Companies was awarded by the CEO Asia Awards 2015 as the ADEC Innovation Green Company of the Year, certified by IFC-World Bank Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) for Green Building, and recognized by the Financial Times in 2016 as a nominee for the Transformational Business Awards. “You don’t have to be big to be counted in the global community. It’s about innovation and how you believe you’ll help your country; it’s not about the size but the idea,” Imperial shared.
Her big idea manifested when her company decided to construct solar-powered small houses. It was for them, a way to address the backlog of housing in the country as they were low-cost and efficient. In a country where solar power is somehow relegated to more expensive projects, Imperial homes saw the potential for them to be ideal for the provinces where brownouts were frequent. The switch to solar meant that these areas would never have to suffer from power cuts and solar at scale would actually be energy and cost efficient. It was a revolutionary idea: solar power for low-income families. After her company started this project, many took notice. “Ginawa tayong poster child ng World Bank,” Imperial proudly says.
With her story, Imperial wishes to impart to other women entrepreneurs that working in a male-dominated business doesn’t have to be a struggle. Although you have to prove yourself worthy at first, she shares that strict implementation and being consistent with your policies ultimately makes others listen. She’s proud that her organization is now seeing a lot of interest from the youth because the youth she says, are intrigued by innovation (like Imperial Homes solar-powered low-cost houses)
Not to take away from the men in her industry, but Imperial shares that she believes women have more heart than men. “ I had more chances to make my business high-end, but I chose to cater to the low-end group. I can also honestly stop doing business now and I’d be okay but I can’t stop because of my employees.”
She also shares that it’s important for women in business to have camaraderie. She shares that when she was starting in her industry, it was hard to be part of bigger projects because the men would already have a so-called “boys club” and she would be left out. Today, she happily shares that women entrepreneurs have already set-up similar groups to support each other and they often meet about projects related to nation-building.
AHEAD Tutorial and Review Center
Rosanna Llenado was the second guest who shared her story and insights on what it means to be a successful woman entrepreneur. She was named as one of the 100 Most Amazing Filipinas by Summit Media in 2012 and received numerous awards from the Philippine Marketing Association, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Her business, AHEAD is one of the most venerated tutorial and learning centers in the country. As one of the first tutorial centers to offer college entrance exams review programs, Llenado eventually expanded their services to offer a wide range of programs to complement students’ learning.
Recently, they’ve put a center that focuses on teaching Singapore Math— a method that she believes is more functional and practical which eventually makes student’s more proficient at the often dreaded subject. They’re also offering courses on speed reading and mind-mapping which are valuable skills for any student tackling difficult and lengthy reading materials. From a small business started at her home, AHEAD has now risen as the go-to tutorial center in the metro because of its quality and comprehensive programs that position students for excellence.
When Llenado was asked about her opinion on Filipina entrepreneurs, she says that a lot of Filipinas are still scared to enter into business. But what most Filipinas don’t know, she said, is that we’re relatively lucky compared to women from other countries. She discovered this fact when she conducted a research on women entrepreneurs across the world. She found out that the Philippines was ranked #5 on the list of women-friendly countries for business. She further shares that there are some countries wherein women aren’t allowed to have properties or businesses registered to their name and would have to put them under their father’s or husband’s.
She recognizes that there are a lot more women entrepreneurs now compared to when she first started AHEAD. But she says that despite this increase, women will still encounter struggle or discrimination, especially when they’re just starting out. “I also had an experience when I struggled with doing business as a woman; I was invited to do business with these group of guys.
I noticed one of the men was trying to pulling one over us, and I called him out. They eventually met without me and kicked me out. True enough, that man I called out did deceive all of them.”
Despite the welcome positive change of more women entering business, Llenado wishes however, that more women in our country would hold positions in different boards. She noticed that most board of directors and trustees are still predominantly male. “Women can lead. We’ve had two women presidents! And in the senate and company presidents, ang dami rin babae.” So, why should the boards be different, right?
Llenado and Imperial’s stories are just two amongst a plethora of inspiring success stories of FIlipina entrepreneurs. They are a testament to the woman’s ability to lead and succeed. So, if you’re a woman, currently aspiring to turn that business dream into reality, but afraid to start, here are choice words from our two guests yesterday:
“Do things for the greater good of the country. Imperial Homes never really intended to become a social enterprise, but because we had the heart to think of the communities that other competitors weren’t thinking of, we were able to distinguish ourselves from them. We profited of course— but that naturally follows when you do good work” – Emma Imperial
“If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself— whats the right business for me? ano ang kailangan ng kababayan ko? If you can answer these two and somehow the answer is one thing then that’s a good place to start.” – Rosanna Llenado
Times are definitely changing—for the better—for women. We can now aspire to be anything and everything we want to be, especially in the professional and business world, and we’re more likely to succeed too. Women have been elected president of a country, been named CEO of a conglomerate, become a much sought after motivational speaker or financial guru.
But, admittedly, it is still not easy for any woman who attempts to break the glass ceiling. The higher up the corporate or business ladder women go, the harder we’ll need to compete and prove ourselves in a still largely male-dominated world.
So how do you make it in a room filled with men? Here is a seven-point action plan you can adopt in your fight for recognition, promotion, or excellence in your chosen profession or industry.
Create a strategic plan. Don’t just passively wait to be noticed. Instead, map out a platform for success and then follow through with your plans. To find motivation, you can study the profiles and career trajectories of women achievers. For example, you can do research on Jessica Cox, a motivational speaker and pilot who was born without arms and who steers airplanes with her legs. Or look up the accomplishments of award-winning Dr. Josette Biyo, the executive director of the Philippine Science High School who has a planet named after her in recognition of her excellent body of work. In your own company, don’t hesitate to ask a close superior or director, both men and women, about their strategy as they moved up the corporate ladder.
Promote yourself. Think of yourself as a marketing expert who needs to introduce herself to a whole lot of people and who has to build relationships. Take on difficult challenges and risks to stand out and eventually get promoted. Consider also serving on board meetings to raise your visibility, and stay active in professional associations and search for leadership roles and responsibilities.
Be proactive. Don’t hinder your own growth by becoming complacent or content. Actively seek training, seminars, and workshops to keep learning professionally and improve your work or entrepreneurial skills.
Find work you enjoy. It may be a cliché, but doing work that truly gives you joy is half the battle. Look for a work culture that complements your strengths, limits your weaknesses, and is easier to endure in times of isolation. You are more likely to stay motivated in the face of gender-related hindrances when you are passionate about what you do.
Develop a plan to counter discrimination. Yes, intolerance still exists today, even in the workplace. Develop a plan to combat discrimination, but remember that not everything that may go against you is an attack on you, so choose your battles carefully. If you have trouble coping, it may be good to seek professional help or advice.
Have realistic expectations. Many women enter the workplace thinking that breaking new ground would be a breeze. When their expectations are not met, they give up or decide to settle for less. Learn to accept that not everything will go as planned, and prepare for setbacks by studying how you can stay strong as you strive to overcome opposition or failure.
Seek mentors. They need not only be your bosses or professional allies, mentors can also be friends and relatives of both sexes who have chalked up outstanding achievements. Look to them not only as individuals who can share their professional skills with you, but who can also introduce you to other people who can help you move ahead. – ED
Photo: UN Women
Every woman’s situation is unique, but all women, whatever path they take, can always find opportunities for personal, professional, or business growth. The secret is to look for the opportunities that are present everywhere, whether in the home, in the office, even in your hobby room.
Here, meet three women who did just that: They mined their personal circumstances, passion, and creativity to bring their game to the next level and score financial success.
When Janice Villanueva became a mom, she had to deal with all kinds of motherhood issues. One time, while breast-feeding her child at the mall, her chest was accidentally exposed. This unfortunate experience, however, drove her to launch her first venture, a clothing line she called Mommy Matters.
“These look like regular clothes but they have a panel that opens up,” she says of the nursing wear she produces. “There’s a hidden slip that you just lift up so that when you are breast-feeding, you don’t look like you are.”
As her child grew older, Janice started to realize how much mommies need specific information relating to practical parenting. And since she was also in the industry of publishing, she decided to publish a book entitled Mommy Pages, a directory for moms containing relevant information such as useful listings and details on party planners and child-friendly restaurants, among others.
Meanwhile as she continued to give seminars to other mothers about proper breast-feeding, a friend suggested that she do events as well. Hesitant at first, Janice took the plunge after her friend promised to place ads in her book if she would do an event for her.
Thus, Janice’s events company “Creative Juice” was born in 2000. She has since then been organizing all kinds of events, and several years ago, she re-branded her mommy events and launched Mommy Mundo, a go-to portal of resources for moms.
The Writer Who Won’t Quit
When she was still a student, author Marlene Legaspi-Munar loved to read. “In elementary I read the Nancy Drew detective series,” she says. “When I reached high school, I turned to reading romantic novels like Mills & Boon and Barbara Cartland. Because I loved romantic stories, I thought I’d write my own.”
At 16, she wrote her first story, and it was published in a magazine. Encouraged, she pitched more articles to magazines and sent book proposals to publishers. But unlike her first article, many of her drafts were rejected.
“Early in my career, I would feel so bad after receiving rejection letters from editors,” she says. “I found comfort in reading about other writers whose works had been rejected, too. I learned that, sometimes, it’s not that your material is bad, but maybe you just sent your material to the wrong publication, meaning, the publisher doesn’t publish your kind of story. So you have to find the right home for your manuscript.”
With this insight, she managed to get two of her works published in the same year—a textbook and a short romantic fiction. Several books likewise saw print later on, including Life in the Middle: The Search for a Satisfying and Significant Midlife and How to Keep Your Hubby Happy at iba pang Tips para kay Misis.
For budding writers who want to get published, here is Marlene’s advice: “Keep reading, keep writing, and keep rewriting. Don’t be afraid of criticism. Be humble and learn from your mistakes. Do your research. Be on the lookout for magazines or publications seeking contributions. Study carefully what publishers are looking for and craft your material accordingly. Follow submission guidelines carefully. Be patient while waiting for the right time.”
Wear Your Confidence
As far back as she can remember, fashion has always been one of the great loves of businesswoman Audrey Quitayen. But even back then, she believed that no matter how beautiful your clothes are, you’ll never stand out without self-confidence.
“A woman can still be sexy, glamorous and beautiful the way God has created her even without showing so much skin,” she says. “So I decided to start a business that is bent on giving women some confidence through pieces and accessories that stand out.”
Her venture, Pieces N’ Creations, sells handcrafted products, wedding accessories, art pieces, and souvenirs. The trademark of her business is the handcrafted satin flower found in the art and fashion products she and her partner sell.
Audrey explains that she came up with the name Pieces N’ Creations from the idea that by using creativity, “you can make some creations from scratch, using different pieces of available materials, to come out with unique creations.”
One of the best things about putting up this kind of business is that not only does it require relatively little capital, but it’s a social enterprise that creates job opportunities for women in many communities, adds Audrey.
By Rowena Diocton
There’s no denying it. Women have grown way beyond their traditional roles of housekeeping and child rearing. According to the April 2016 Philippine Labor Force Survey, nearly 17 million Filipino women are part of the country’s total labor force, nurturing careers in various industries, from agriculture and manufacturing to education and finance and insurance. These days, there really is nothing that Filipinas can’t do.
Still, there are major bumps on the road to career growth. Filipino career women remain at risk of the gender pay gap and stereotypes that come with being a driven, goal-oriented woman. As such, it pays to know where the Filipina careerist stands in the big picture. Here, we take a look at the facts surrounding Filipina workers and the challenges they continue to face.
1. Majority of Filipina workers are between 25 and 34.
The labor force survey mentioned earlier reveals that roughly one in 10 workers in the country is a woman between the ages of 25 and 34. Women in this age range have likely worked for at least four years after finishing a four-year college course.
2. Filipina workers dominate in several key industries.
According to 2014 data provided by JobStreet, an online job search site in the Philippines, Filipinas dominate in industries involved in the following:
- travel/tourism (81%)
- grooming/beauty/fitness (76%)
- gems/jewelry (75%)
- healthcare/medical field (72%)
- biotechnology/pharmaceuticals (71%)
- textiles/garments (70%)
- journalism, banking/financial (69%)
- agriculture (68%)
- wood/fiber/paper production (67%)
- property/real estate, accounting (65%)
3. More and more Pinays with high educational attainment are entering the workforce, contributing to positive economic growth.
In a 2015 survey of women workers in the Asia Pacific, the Asian Development Bank found that the Philippines is the only country in the region to close the gender gap in both education and health survival, owing to the country’s high female literacy and enrollment rate, survival rate, and life expectancy. Many Filipinas with higher education are helping bridge the employment gap between men and women, providing more opportunities for other women to get a higher pay and better positions.
4. More Filipino women are becoming major players in business and legislation.
Strong-willed Filipinas are increasingly exhibiting their capacity to take part in making big decisions that impact the business and legislative sectors. Data from the International Labor Organization showed that more than half (55%) of legislators, senior officials, and managers in the Philippines in 2008 were women. Women are typically underrepresented in decision-making processes, be it in state or business matters. As such, having more women get to top positions means greater opportunity for female representation in issues that affect them.
5. Despite their educational attainment, Filipino women are less likely to join the workforce than Filipino men.
Though they may be highly educated, Filipinas are less likely to join the labor force than their male peers, according to the latest MasterCard Index of Women’s Advancement. Often, socio-cultural factors deter them from doing so. The country’s history may have a hand in this, since Filipina workers have been predisposed to expect discrimination in the workplace.
These facts paint a picture of Filipino women as a resilient group that continue to find ways to prove their worth. There may be hurdles, but the rising number of women in the local workforce and in the top echelons of corporations and institutions shows that they are not going to let anything stop them from reaching their full potentials.
Photo: mUAr cHEe
By Aileen Carreon
As Rose Tanalgo-Meim of Bacolod Chicken Inasal (BCI) has realized, combining a career with motherhood is not an easy task but a juggling act that takes time to master. By making the necessary adjustments and designing effective systems, Rose has gotten better at performing the dual tasks of taking care of her brood of five and handling the marketing, communication, and customer care requirements of their family food business.
Bacolod Chicken Inasal, which Rose manages together with younger siblings JM and Bing, started as a take-out counter in EDSA Central in 1993. The initial eight-seater, open-air counter was eventually replaced with an air-conditioned restaurant upon the prodding of a growing clientele. In 1998, the siblings opened a second restaurant along Jupiter Street in Makati, which was soon followed by a string of new branches in Metro Manila, mostly located in major malls. In the early 2000s, a commissary was put up and systems were put in place as their operations continued to grow.
It was during this time that Rose got married to Paul and soon after became pregnant. “We were heavy on the Ysabella’s Chicken (a tie-up with TV network ABS-CBN) and opening several branches,” recalls Rose. Being young, energetic, and healthy, she didn’t take time out from work even as her family grew.
“When I had my first baby, I would bring her to the office. I even tried to breastfeed and bring the pump to work. But you don’t want babies to be in the car all the time or be in a building. So I studied how I could best manage.”
Rose concedes she was not good at it in the beginning. “I was still a workaholic. I wanted to cover so much and would lose track of time. You go home tired. My kids remember mom trying to read them a story then in the middle of it, falling asleep.”
As her kids got older, Rose made a conscious effort to change her work habits. “I can’t have late nights and come home after dinner or spend the whole day out. I can’t afford to just see my children in the morning before they leave for school.”
Establishing a Home Office
She now maintains a work station at home. “I target three times a week of physically being in the office. But there are times it’s less, and other times it’s more. It all depends on the schedule of the kids and the requirements at work.”
Technology has made it easier to manage the business from home, like dealing with suppliers for marketing and communication materials. Discussions and brainstorming are done through messenger.
On the days she reports to the office, Rose makes sure to be home by dinnertime at the latest. The same goes for her husband. In the morning, she wakes up early to get the kids ready for class and have breakfast together as a family. She then sends the kids off to school with words of encouragement.
Rose is also a committed parent volunteer in school, for which she gets to spend additional time with her children, four of whom are in grades six, five, four, and two, while the youngest is in kindergarten.
Setting Up Effective Systems
To keep track of the needs of her two daughters and three sons, Rose uses a white board system at home. She has a small board for plotting the activities of the kids for the whole month, like field trips, exams, and varsity practices, and scheduling in major family events like birthdays. A bigger one is used as a weekly calendar that details the daily activities of her kids each week.
“The ultimate goal is for each of them to be responsible for their own work. But at their ages you still have to remind them. If there’s a quiz scheduled for the week, we can remind them to review earlier. By knowing the kids’ activities, like violin lessons, varsity practice, or competition, we’re also guided as to the time they should be picked up from school,” shares Rose.
She has also implemented what she calls the four o’clock system. Each school day, at four in the afternoon, Rose checks her kids’ assignment notebooks, no matter where she is. “When I’m out, the yaya would take pictures of the assignment notebooks and send me via Viber. So I’m always informed.”
“I take a look at what needs to be done and gauge if they would need tutorial assistance, because I know my kids’ capabilities and weaknesses,” she adds. “That’s my system, to first check what is needed so I can support it. If they need to bring stuff to school, I can pick it up on my way home or give the necessary instructions to our help.”
Rose acknowledges the importance of a good team of helpers and reveals that she hires based on attitude rather than skills, which can be learned anyway. “You need a team that you can trust and that have values aligned with yours because they’re part of the family.”
At work, her dependable BCI staff makes things easier. “We have a very organic corporation. We have employees who are from Bacolod and who have been with us since the start. They are trustworthy and dependable. Each one has a specialization so we know whom to tap for specific requirements. It’s good to have a team to back you up.”
Importance of Family Support
The support of her family is also invaluable. “I’m on top of things, so much so that I know every detail in the menu, the posters. If you move the logo, I’ll know it,” she says. “I’m so thankful that in our family corporation, it’s OK to not be present in the office for as long as you are delivering your work.”
In two years’ time, Bacolod Chicken Inasal will be celebrating 25 years of operation. That’s quite an achievement for three siblings who were fresh out of college when they put up a food business that introduced to Metro Manila residents the chicken inasal and other dishes they loved while growing up in Bacolod.
“We are very blessed to have been able to maintain the business this long and to still be poised for future growth. I’m lucky to be in a family business because my work becomes an extension of my relationship with my family,” says Rose.
While her top priority is her family, she also highly values her work and thinks that no business will thrive if the owners are not involved. Besides, she believes that managing the business well today is ensuring that the next generation inherits a thriving family enterprise years from now.
Photo: Ramon FVelasquez
Pursuing a career or managing a business while raising a family puts unbelievable demands and pressure on women, and if one is not careful, this can lead to serious health issues.
Needless to say, we must never put our health and well-being at the bottom of our list of priorities. Always keep in mind that a healthy body is key to enabling you to carry out all of your daily tasks and responsibilities. As inspirational speaker Joyce Meyer put it: “I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”
The good news is that with time management, you can always fit some exercise into your hectic schedule. Get as much physical activity in your work and home life as you can, and you’ll soon see an improvement in your stamina, productivity, and energy levels—guaranteed!
Wake up earlier
Try getting up earlier than usual on most days for some quiet “me time” and about 15 to 30 minutes of exercise. To ensure you focus on yourself during this period, prepare the breakfast and other needs of your children the night before. When the kids finally wake up, you’ve already worked up a sweat or enjoyed an invigorating run around the neighborhood.
Adopt an efficient exercise plan
Choose a workout program that can be performed quickly with little preparation, but yields maximum results in a shorter period of time. With such an exercise routine, it’s easy to sneak in your moves anytime and anywhere. Running and high-intensity workouts are some exercises that can be a good fit for your lifestyle.
Use what’s available
Whether you are trying to lull your baby to sleep at home or finishing paperwork at the office, use the things and furniture around you to reach your fitness goals. For instance, use your chair to perform stretching or bending exercises. Or you can invest in a yoga mat and do some planking positions or stretching exercises. And, yes, you can do this at the office, too.
Invest in dumbbells, bands, jump ropes
These pieces of exercise equipment can help speed up your heart rate and improve your blood circulation. While at home watching TV, pick up your dumbbells during commercial breaks and just flex your muscles. During a 30-minute sitcom, for example, you can get in nine minutes of exercise on average.
Make it fun
Who says exercise has to be boring and tedious? If you are not really into working out, consider other activities that appeal to you. Perhaps you’d like to enroll in a dance class or take yoga lessons or pick up a sports activity like boxing. These days there are tons of opportunities to get fit, so explore what’s out there and give it a try.
Escape during lunch time
Before or after taking your lunch, head out for some brisk walking outdoors for a mental and physical pick-me-up. When you return to work, make sure you have enough supply of fruits and raw vegetables, meal bars, or protein shakes for healthy snacking. This is a neat way to burn off extra calories and fill up on healthy food.
Include your family
What better way to exercise than to invite your husband and kids to join you in your quest for a healthy lifestyle? You’re all not only getting fitter, you’re all also getting closer to one other. Indeed, the family that jogs, walks, bikes, or treks together, stays together.
Photo: Claire Griffiths