Go Negosyo to award women 'Starpreneurs' 

Gone are the days when success was purely a man's game, because today it only takes eight Filipino women to change all that.

Armed with an empowered nature and inspirational will, these eight women – Genevieve Ledesma-Tan, Zenaida Tantoco, Nelia Siggaoat, Elizabeth Lee, Myrna Yao, Natividad Cheng, Rosalinda Hortaleza and Vicki Belo – have bravely taken a path that used to be male territory: a successful life through entrepreneurship.

These Filipinas will be recognized as the Go Negosyo Filipina STARpreneurs in the Medium/Large category during the "Go Negosyo Kapuso Ka ng Bayan" Women Entrepreneurship Summit, slated on March 4 to 6 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

A joint effort with GMA Network, The Philippine STAR and the Department of Trade and Industry, the award recognizes these inspiring women entrepreneurs and enablers who have made a difference in their respective fields and have become role models as women with enterprising mindset, passion, and innovative skills.

Joey Concepcion, founding trustee of Go Negosyo, said, "This is the reason why every year, Go Negosyo seeks to recognize these inspiring `womenpreneurs' or women entrepreneurs to prove that negosyo is for everyone; and that women, like men, can also be successful negosyantes."

The successful Pinays

Rustan's Commercial Corp. is a pioneer in the fashion retailing industry in the Philippines; and the person leading the company to success is Zenaida "Nedy" Tantoco, who took over as president of Rustan's from her late mother Glecy Tantoco.

Today, excellence, not just luxury, is the reason why Rustan's has maintained its position in the fashion retailing industry — because quality customer service has remained at the forefront of their business.

For Vicki Belo, beauty has always been her passion. She opened her first clinic at the Makati Medical Center, which soon grew to what is now the Belo Medical Group, with nine branches all over Metro Manila and one in Cebu.

Vicki also saw the potential to further improve and expand her business. With the intention of sharing the gift of beauty with more Filipinos, Vicki came up with more affordable services and introduced a skincare line that caters to the mass market. It's not just the stars who love Vicki, Filipinos from all walks of life have embraced her simply because she will not recommend anything she hasn't tried herself. It's one of the reasons why she is considered one of the trusted names in beauty and admired names in business in the Philippines.

Another advocate of beauty, Rosalinda "San San" Hortaleza, is chairman and CEO of HBC Inc., one of the biggest retailers of health, beauty, personal and home care products and services in the Philippines.

Currently, HBC Inc., which carries exclusive brands such as San San Cosmetics, Body Recipe, Hortaleza MD, Allue My First, and Hortaleza Professional, has more than 200 branches nationwide and has also gained popularity in the US, Singapore and Oman. And because of San San's hard work and love for Filipino products, HBC Inc. has made it to the Top 1000 Corporations in the Philippines.

Toys, cars, etc.

For those who are young at heart, Myrna Yao, founder and CEO of Richwell Trading, has the best job in the world, because she is the woman behind the company that brings a wide range of toys and children's products to the Philippines.

Like most entrepreneurs, Myrna tried many businesses including selling blouses, plates and tires before finding the one she is truly passionate about. She encourages budding negosyantes to take hardship and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as entrepreneurs.

Likewise, Nelia Siggaoat, president of Manels, tried many negosyos with her husband Manuel before finally getting it right with one of the most recognized names in leather goods in the Philippines.

It was in 1964, while working at the Philippine Women's University, when she decided to try her hand at putting up a business. She set up Manels as a pharmacy in Manila before converting it into their first shoe store.

Knowing she could do so much more with their negosyo, Nelia quit her job and focused on the artistic aspects of creating and manufacturing leather goods. A few years after, Manels became a pioneer in the Philippine leather industry.

It is quite unusual for a woman to be a car enthusiast, but Elizabeth Lee is definitely an exception to this stereotype.

Elizabeth, the COO of of Universal Motors Corp. (UMC), is in charge of steering one of the largest automotive companies in the country. Under her guidance, UMC's Nissan Frontier became the best-selling pickup truck in the Philippines for four years in a row. They were also able to sell more Nissan Patrols in the Philippines than in Japan.

Bed of roses

An inspiring woman who is running one of the biggest manufacturing companies in the Philippines, Natividad Cheng, CEO of the Uratex Group of Companies, has been offering Filipinos top-quality foam products, mattresses, monoblock furniture, plastic food containers, and even textile.

Under her guidance, Uratex has developed more products and has expanded to Cebu and Pangasinan, and soon to Davao.

Today, Naty has 13 factories nationwide which provide employment to more than 2,000 workers. Aside from generating jobs, Naty also gives back to the community by supporting the education of many Filipino children.

Business of education

Mothers are usually a child's first teachers so it comes naturally for some women to choose to become educators. And Genevieve Ledesma-Tan knows the value of this, because she followed her passion for teaching and shaping young minds by putting up Southville International School and Colleges in 1989.

Genevieve, the founder and chief executive mentor of Southville, started with only five teachers who focused on teaching preschoolers.        

But because of her commitment to providing high quality education, Southville grew into an accredited international school with more than 1,500 students. Today, her school, in partnership with International Education Specialists, has evolved into Southville Foreign University, the first international college in the Philippines.

Negosyo supporters

In recognizing the contributions of these women to the country, Go Negosyo has forged partnerships with several companies to further spread the inspiring stories of the women entrepreneurs as they effectively balance their lives, family, pursuits, and service to community.

The Women Entrepreneurship Summit is presented by Go Negosyo, DTI, GMA Network and The Philippine STAR.

In partnership with PLDT SME Nation, Smart Communications Inc., RFM Corporation, BPI Family Ka-Negosyo, Avon Cosmetics Inc., LBC Group of Companies, RISQ Fashion, Condura, EBay Inc., Unilever Philippines.

We thank our other partners Banco de Oro, Security Bank, Premium Management and Consulting Services, HBC.

Venue partner is the World Trade Center.

Thanks to institutional partners Philippine Franchising Association, Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.

And thanks to radio partners Magic 89.9, Wave 89.1, 99.5 RT, 103.5 Wow FM, and Jam 88.3.

An advocacy of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, Go Negosyo hopes to demystify entrepreneurial success and popularize entrepreneurship as an alternative to unemployment, job-seeking, or migration by catalyzing the development of entrepreneurship in the country.

Bene Nota: The views and opinions expressed here by the author are personal to him, and do not reflect the views and opinions of the website owners and administrators. Any issue or complaint about the article must be addressed solely to the author, who is solely responsible for the article.