I met Joey Concepcion in 1982. I was a 20-year old fresh graduate working in the brand management division of RFM co-owned by his family. He was working there a year ahead of me as promotions manager. I remember hitching a ride with him during some of our Cabuyao plant meetings.
I decided to be an entrepreneur in 1985. Tony Ding, then vice president of RFM’s meat processing asked me to stay and wait three more months as he was about to take over marketing and he wanted me to be his marketing manager. I guess it was not to be as I had already committed to a new partnership venture with the Abenson group then. Years later, Joey became president of RFM, he spearheaded the shift from the conservative RFM that was into an aggressive marketer, acquiring Selecta and Cosmos, even when acquisition was not as popular in the Philippines at that time.
It was in 1991 when I was surprised to receive a call from Joey. I was at the Philippine Marketing Association office as I was its national president when he offered me to be general manager of one of RFM’s division. I just turned 29 then, it was very tempting to take on and quite difficult to decline but Wilson Lim of Abenson has been good to me in our business together and so again, it was not meant to be.
Like his father, Joe Concepcion, one-time chairman of election watch dog Namfrel, who courageously played a critical role during Marcos-Cory snap election in 1986, Joey Concepcion created his own advocacy and branded it Go Negosyo in 2005. Joey was appointed Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (PGMA, coincidentally was undersecretary of Trade and Industry when Joe Concepcion became Secretary of Trade and Industry during President Cory’s time) and Joey was wise enough to create the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) in order to continue the entrepreneurial advocacy long after the term of PGMA.
In the Philippines, the mindset of many Filipinos is to earn a degree to get a good employment; others simply want to leave the country and work abroad or the OFW (overseas Filipino worker) phenomenon. These cultural and social issues became not just a source of inspiration that led to an advocacy but a crusade for Go Negosyo. They mounted a series of talks for students and young people to be inspired to start a business. They rallied consultants and successful business owners to be speakers and mentors and branded them ‘Angelpreneurs’ (I am one of them! So now, it is meant to be that Joey and I get to work together again, this time for this advocacy). They gave awards to different segments on entrepreneurs that included heritage businessowners, women, young entrepreneurs, etc.
They expanded to mass media like TV and radio shows and have launched and sold hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurship books. In other words, they elevated many entrepreneurs to rock star status while encouraging the government to create laws favorable to SMEs like the Go Negosyo Law, and have rallied many others to help.
(One of the many books of Go Negosyo, ’50 Entrepreneurs of Passion’ was launched in 2014)
Mansmith and Fielders’ social enterprise subsidiary, Day 8 Business Academy for SMEs, is in sync with the Go Negosyo advocacy. Starting with a pay-what-you-want offer to remove any barriers for SME business owners to attend business courses on how to run their business systematically, it now offers new and losing companies scholarships to attend any of its over fifty 3-hour business courses.
(Inaugural advertisement of Day 8 Business Academy for SMEs in 2010. A little later, Malayan Insurance came in as platinum sponsor)
(Day 8’s seminar on ‘Innopreneurship or combining entrepreneurship and innovation was shared with Go Negosyo a couple of times.)
(‘The WE Entrepreneur’, a best selling book launched in 2010 by Chiqui Escareal-Go and myself was endorsed by Joey Concepcion in social media and in his Phil Star column. Joey wrote ‘Finally, a book that provides a framework that will help entrepreneurs create a successful balance between work and personal lives. Know the five tasks and the five treasures in every entrepreneur’s journey’.)
Indeed, Joey Concepcion successfully spotted and occupied a white space, a strategic group or a third force between the government’s Department of Trade and Industry, and the Chamber of Commerce, creating many innovative programs that were then in a vacuum or moving slowly. The rise of President Rody Duterte made Go Negosyo even more prominent with Go Negosyo’s Executive Director Ramon Lopez, now as Secretary of Trade and Industry no less and Joey reappointed to his Presidential Consultant status. They have recently launched ‘Kapatid: Angat Lahat’ to rally big businesses to be big brothers and big sisters to SMEs, to help more SMEs become part of big businesses’ supply chain and help them grow.
‘Kapatid’ is very biblical, perhaps, an indicator of how Joey Concepcion has become a born again Christian like his parents, with his work and his advocacy as his ministry. With the country president, vice president and secretary of trade and industry all pro-SMEs, it is now time for Filipinos to start thinking about starting and growing their own businesses.