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Who will be 2015’s Philippine Entrepreneur of the Year?

Posted on October 13, 2015

THE SEARCH for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2015 concludes tomorrow night in a much-awaited awards gala at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The search yielded 11 outstanding entrepreneurs from various industries across the country.

SGV Foundation President Cirilo “Vic” P. Noel says: “This year’s search is about game changers, those who stand out from the crowd by enacting new ideas, systems and services that propel industries and enterprises forward. For this year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines program recognizes inspiring Filipino game changers who constantly strive to challenge conventions and create new paradigms that drive social and economic development.”

Januario Jesus B. Atencio III believes that every Filipino has the right to own a home. This inspired him to partner with his friends in establishing 8990 Holdings, Inc., a low-cost mass housing company in 2003. He decided to challenge the status quo in the real estate industry by introducing innovations like using pre-fabricated building materials and requiring only 2% down payment for amortization. To date, 8990 Holdings has completed 16 mass housing projects and has ongoing projects totaling to more than 30,000 units sold.

Julieta G. Austria used her training and experience in food technology to establish Blue Macay Food Manufacturing Corp., a company specializing in formulating food products, spices and flavorings that are suited to the Filipino palate. To better streamline research and product development, she created a library of flavor samples and solutions to quickly meet the specific flavor needs of her clients. She has also developed in-house consumer food brands that the company markets directly to consumers.

Martine D. Cajucom developed her creativity and personal sense of style into a successful career with an American fashion company. However, she gave it up to return home to the Philippines in 2013 when she was invited to be the creative director and a part owner of Sunnies Studios, a brand that would market and retail curated fashion eyewear. Developing a strong following among millennials, Sunnies Studios has grown to 30 outlets nationwide in just two years.

Jose Mari R. Del Rosario spent a great deal of his youth travelling and stayed in different hotels in various countries, which piqued his interest in the hospitality industry. While taking his MBA in the US, he came across Microtel Hotel and saw an opportunity to position it in the Philippines as a mid-market property that assures quality and offers affordable accommodations. He formed Microtel Inns and Suites (Pilipinas), Inc. to engage in the business of franchising hotels. There are currently 13 hotels under the Microtel brand in the Philippines.

Roland C. Delantar believes that slow and sure can win. While supporting his family as a working student, a salesman and then as a CPA, he saved up to start a business. Leveraging on his experience in sales, he established RCD Land, Inc. as a real estate broker which eventually grew to become a housing contractor and then, a full-scale real estate developer. Today, the company has affordable housing projects in Cavite, Bulacan, Batangas, Pasay and Parañaque.

Antonio Agustin M. Escalante was a flight steward for Philippine Airlines before leaving to pursue culinary studies at the Regency Park Institute of Tafe in Adelaide, Australia. In 2002 he opened Antonio’s in Tagaytay where the menu reflects the Filipino culinary heritage, his passion for fresh farm produce, and diverse world cuisine influences. Every dish keeps the natural flavors of top-quality ingredients, many of which are grown on Antonio’s own sustainable farms.

Benjamin R. Lao advocates that farmers need to go beyond simply selling harvests and seek ways to add value by processing their crops into other products. When he inherited a coconut farm, he researched on how to process copra into coconut sugar and syrup. As local sales increased, he incorporated Lao Integrated Farms, which now exports 80% of its products to international organic and health food manufacturers. He promotes sustainability and conducts free lectures to educate farmers on organic farming.

Nico Jose S. Nolledo realized early on the internet’s potential to become mobile and change how people live. This motivated him and two friends to start Xurpas, Inc., which is now one of the largest listed consumer technology companies in Southeast Asia. Fueled by his passion to bring first-class mobile experiences to emerging markets, the company provides telecommunications companies with localized mobile consumer content and services, as well as develops mobile platform solutions and mission-critical applications.

Philip N. Tan demonstrated unshakeable determination in the potential of the metalworking industry when he founded Wellmade Motors and Development Corp. Not only did he come up with the idea of developing a build-operate-transfer process for machines shop “franchises” around the country and even overseas, but he also set-up a research and development team to develop high-quality Philippine-made machinery which rival imported ones.

Wilson Tieng and his brothers channeled their passion for cinema to founding Solar Entertainment Corp. Using a strategy that combined creative niche programming and distribution with his own instinctive ability to select movies and shows that had potential to be hits, he led Solar to become the largest content provider and channel operator in Southeast Asia operating nine channels which include both free-to-air and cable. He is also active in the local movie production industry and supports the creation of quality independent films.

Judith D. Versoza and her husband lost their jobs in the wake of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. Driven by a need to provide for her family, she fell back to what she knew best: cooking. With little capital and no formal training, the Versozas opened a small neighborhood eatery in their garage which grew into Josiah’s Catering, today with capacity to handle 20-30 events daily. After opening other food-related businesses, she consolidated the various companies into Aveate Management Corp.

From these finalists, one winner will be named the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2015 who will represent the country at the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2016.

In 2003, the very first Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines award was accorded to Jollibee Foods Corp. Chairman and Chief executive Officer (CEO) Tony Tan Caktiong, who went on to become the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004. Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Book Store, was named Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines the year after, followed subsequently by Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc.; Senen C. Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc.; Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr., president and CEO of Alaska Milk Corp.; Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, former chairman and president of Planters Development Bank; Tennyson G. Chen, president of Bounty Fresh Foods, Inc.; Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and CEO of AboitizPower Corp.; Jaime I. Ayala, founder and CEO, Hybrid Social Solutions Inc. and Ben Chan, Chairman of the Board of Suyen Corporation in 2013.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year was founded in the United States by professional services firm Ernst & Young in 1986 to recognize achievements of the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2001 Ernst & Young expanded the program and launched the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. SGV Foundation, Inc. established the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines program in 2003.

The official airline of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2015 is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, operating on behalf of the Air France-KLM Group in the Philippines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Banquet sponsors include Alaska Milk Corp.; Bench; Bounty Fresh Food, Inc.; Fiori Di M; HSBC; Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.; Jollibee Foods Corp.; Manny O. Group and Universal Harvester, Inc.