Entrepreneurs inspire!

Maria L.V. Balmaceda

Every two years, the Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) Philippines program stages a road show to announce the start of the nomination period for entrepreneurship awards. In our recent road shows in Cebu and Davao, the local reporters were curious to know our observations on entrepreneurship in the country since we launched the awards in 2003. This was a good point to reflect on after 16 years of celebrating the best among Filipino entrepreneurs.

It would be best to go back to the very start when we introduced the program. The biggest challenge then was to define who or what an entrepreneur is. The prevailing notion at the time was that we were referring to people who run buy-and-sell enterprises or “mom and pop” stores. Of course these are entrepreneurs by all means, but it was a limited view of entrepreneurship. In our view, the entrepreneur has evolved.


Entrepreneurs include both founders of companies and those who organize, manage, and assume the risks of a business or enterprise in the companies’ life or development. They are active in the leadership of the company. This definition applies to a wide range of people.

Traditionally, the entrepreneur is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of an organization. However, the definition nowadays has been stretched to include CEOs who come on board to join an existing business. In select cases, the CEO/President of a subsidiary of a company may also be considered an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs can also be multi-generational as with family businesses that are passed from one generation to the next.

Whether the entrepreneur goes by the traditional or expanded definition, the key is that he or she finds creative and venturesome ways to acquire capital resources, build their team, and innovate to achieve their goals and to grow their business. For family businesses, the next generation of leaders should exhibit their own form of risk management and make their mark on the business. All in all, entrepreneurs are those who create value for themselves, their employees, their customers and their communities.


And speaking of communities, we used to get asked a lot about what it means to be a social entrepreneur. Would an entrepreneur who runs a feeding program in his or her community, donates to charities or provides scholarships qualify as a social entrepreneur?

In fact, when the program started in 2003, we had an award category called “Socially Responsible Entrepreneur.” The winners were recognized for their strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. However, sometime in 2006, we collaborated with a global social entrepreneurship nonprofit organization that helped us set the qualifications for one to be considered a social entrepreneur.

We then included a Social Entrepreneur Award to refer to people who run businesses that are for-profit or non-profit and whose “approach to social and environmental challenges applies innovation, creativity and resourcefulness to create opportunities for social transformation.” These are enterprises that specifically address social issues such as poverty and the environment with sustainable solutions, not simply those with established CSR programs. After a few years, the category ceased to be a stand-alone award because we had seen how many entrepreneurs have embraced social entrepreneurship, embedding it in their organizations.


In the past 16 years, we have also seen the increased participation of women entrepreneurs. While we are aware that there are numerous enterprises founded and managed by women, there were times when women entrepreneurs were underrepresented with as few as one qualifying as a finalist. However, there has been a growing network of women entrepreneurs, perhaps spurred on by the more visible advocacy for gender parity.

Younger entrepreneurs are also now more participative in the program, which is worth encouraging. With the advent of social media and online businesses, we have seen how many among the younger generation have boldly taken on entrepreneurship as their career. When we launched the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines in 2003, very few schools offered programs in entrepreneurship. Today, it has become a popular degree choice among college students.


Entrepreneurs may differ in responsibility, age, approach or gender but we’ve also noticed that there is some consistency in being an entrepreneur. Regardless of the times or circumstances, entrepreneurs remain passionate about their dreams. They are innovators who may have a single idea that can spark a business evolution, create new possibilities or disrupt the status quo. They are inherently visionaries who leverage new ideas to challenge old paradigms and seize opportunities to develop enterprises that have the potential to transform industries and support economic growth. They are dedicated and hardworking. They have stories to tell and these stories inspire others to become like them.

Back in 2003, our nominees would submit reams of documents that we needed to hold in balikbayan boxes. But times have changed indeed because we ourselves have gone paperless. Nominations are now in sync with the digital world. By simply visiting https://geoy.ey.com you can help us recognize and celebrate our world-class Filipino entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs inspire us, and that never changes.


Nominations to the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2019 will be accepted until May 31 2019.

This article is for general information only and is not a substitute for professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. The views and opinion expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of SGV & Co.

Maria L.V. Balmaceda is Senior Director of SGV & Co. and Program Manager of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines.

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