Big firms urged: Make space for small businesses
The largest and most successful corporations in Southeast Asia must strive to “make space” in the empires for the smallest of their business brethren by sharing their knowledge with entrepreneurs and including them in their supply chains.
Thus said Asean Business Advisory Council (Abac) chair Joey Concepcion as he addressed over 900 guests and delegates from Southeast Asia who gathered on Wednesday night for the 2017 Asean Business Awards meant to honor the most successful captains of the industry and most promising entrepreneurs in the region.
“All my life I’ve looked up to many entrepreneurs who’ve succeeded and inspired myself and countless of you in this audience,” he said. “This inspiration is what fuels our drive to succeed, and for every award we receive, the recognition has to be put to good use.”
Concepcion said it was time large business enterprises “give back to many of those who are not part of the growing economy.”
“Countless of entrepreneurs in the Philippines and many Asean countries belong to the micro and small sector,” he pointed out, adding that he and government officials had, over the last few years, been pursuing the vision of equalizing and giving every struggling entrepreneur “a chance to be at least one day seated at [the head] table and through mentorship.”
During the event, Filipino tycoon John Gokongwei Jr., who built a small trading business into one of the country’s largest conglomerates, was honored for his contribution to supporting entrepreneurship in the region.
Abac honored the rags-to-riches businessman with the legacy award as Concepcion heaped praise on the 91-year-old “entrepreneur and mentor.”
“He is truly admirable in his ways,” the Abac chair said during remarks delivered at the Solaire Resorts and Hotel in Parañaque City, which was headlined by President Duterte and a host of business leaders from 10 Southeast Asian nations.
“[Mr. Gokongwei] has brought up a very enterprising family and more than that they’ve done great for this country,” Concepcion said. “They’ve created a lot of jobs, and the power of mentorship wisdom ‘Mr. John’ has passed on to his children continues on.”
Concepcion—the son of entrepreneurial business pioneer Jose Concepcion Jr., who was also honored that night—said the goal of Abac and the annual awards was to give micro and small entrepreneurs from around the region a large “mentorship space” with large businesses giving guidance and support for smaller firms.
“That way, we’ll be able to enable every micro entrepreneur to become, not just a ‘survival entrepreneur’, but to become sustainable and eventually grow,” he said.
Gokongwei—the founder of JG Summit Holdings Inc. and the country’s second wealthiest man—is known for his investments in agribusiness and the manufacturing of feeds and prime food commodities, and as a visionary who channelled resources and expanded into financial services, textile and property, among others.
Other Filipino awardees were Dennis Uy of Udenna Corp. who was named Asean’s young entrepreneur of the year, and Teodoro Ferrer and Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala for Erikagen Inc.’s inclusive business practices.
Cecilio Pedro of Lamoiyan Corp. was honored for their corporate social responsibility efforts under the SME excellence award category, while Emma Imperial of Imperial Homes Corp. was cited for its use of green technology.
Also awarded for excellence in their respective sectors were Paul Rodriguez of Asian Marine Transport Corp. for logistics; Pedro Delantar of Nature’s Legacy Eximport for wood products; Olivia Limpe-Aw of Destileria Limtuaco & Co. for agrifood; and Bernie Liu of Golden ABC for the retail sector.
A total of 47 awardees led 68 finalists during the event that was attended by over 900 guests and 400 delegates from Asean countries.