Trust is contagious. When we show trust, we in turn inspire trust in others. As we emerge from this pandemic, it’s important to encourage the hesitant to take the first steps toward normality. Our entrepreneurs need to believe it’s okay now to step out and reopen their businesses. Along with entrepreneurs, we must also build the confidence of the banks and reassure them that the money they lend will be repaid, that the businesses will remain open and earn enough to pay back their loans. Our foreign creditors also need to see that the Philippines will return to normal and be able to repay its government debt, enough to maintain its good credit rating and borrow again if needed.
With this in mind we at Go Negosyo have decided to resume our one on one mentoring program, Mentor Me on Wheels, no longer through online conference platforms but this time in person. The return of Mentor Me on Wheels takes place this Saturday, April 9th at Ayala Malls Manila Bay in Pasay City. We are grateful to the 1,000+ small business owners and 130+ mentors who have chosen to join us in this activity.
The return of Mentor Me on Wheels signals our confidence that the Philippines is now in recovery mode and that vaccines coupled with continued distancing, masking and ventilation will help us get back to normal life. Go Negosyo is an advocate for increased mobility, where people have the confidence to return to their normal activities as we move the economy forward.
Above all, personal mentoring must return. Our entrepreneurs need a lot of help now as they will play a key role in the recovery and growth of our economy. MSMEs have borne the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic and the impact of the lockdown on them has been felt almost immediately. Many MSMEs are among the most affected sectors – retail, manufacturing, transport, construction, accommodation, catering, personal services. And, as is the nature of small businesses, they had very little leeway when it came to capital. What they earned was put back into the business almost immediately. With sudden mobility restrictions like in 2020, MSMEs not only have no sales and no money to flow back into their business, but also no money to repay the loans that they need as capital in the first place.
Mentoring is an essential component to helping entrepreneurs not only recover and rebuild, but also achieve success. In addition to money and markets, mentoring is a pillar of our advocacy at Go Negosyo. Mentors can share their experiences, provide insight, and provide the encouragement every small business owner needs, even when times are good. That is why our mentoring programs continued even during the mobility restrictions at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They became an opportunity for us to extend the reach of our existing entrepreneurship mentoring programs.
Since we first launched them in 2016, our programs have relied on face-to-face interactions between the mentors and the entrepreneurs. It was fortunate that at some point we decided to bring mentoring to the provinces and started a mentoring roadshow called Mentor Me on Wheels. When the pandemic hit, the mentoring went live as a Facebook live show called the Go Nego Show.
With the success of the Go Nego Show, we have decided to continue our original mentoring programs Kapatid Mentor Micro Enterprises – Money and Market Encounter (KMME-MME) and Kapatid Agri Mentor Me Program (KAMMP) as originally intended, but this time through online conference platforms and social media. This proved to be the right decision and paid off in helping entrepreneurs during the pandemic.
Despite the limitations, our mentoring programs have been able to produce thousands of graduates from all regions of the Philippines. Specialized coaching became a crucial lynchpin in our programs, allowing us to integrate the three critical components of entrepreneurship – money, market and mentorship – into a single program.
In 2021, the KMME-MME program saw an increase in the number of mentors and mentees in the regions. As of October 2021, 1,634 mentees participated in the KMME Online Program for the year, bringing the total number of KMME-MME online mentees to 3,084. In total, the KMME program in its native and online forms has helped 11,871 mentees since its inception. KAMMP, which has produced 3,032 mentees since 2017, has gained 755 mentees in 2020 and 2021 thanks to online mentoring and even during the restrictions.
These numbers give us hope that the pursuit of entrepreneurship in the Philippines will remain alive and well. However, how successful our entrepreneurs will be in helping the Philippines recover from the ravages of the pandemic depends on how well we as citizens can maintain the integrity of our wall of immunity. We’re doing just fine at the moment, but it can easily go the other way if we get complacent. That’s why I’ve been tirelessly pushing for boosters. We’ve seen dwindling immunity and lax adherence to health protocols easily reverse the situation in countries once seen as success stories. With hope, the Philippines will be able to maintain its momentum. With the return of Mentor Me on Wheels, we express our confidence that the country will not only recover from the pandemic, but will thrive and prosper through entrepreneurship.