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Enabling the next phase of growth: Collaboration across generations, not disruption

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By Shahab Shabibi
BusinessWorld SparkUp Sparkfluencer

TURNING the Philippines into a copy of Silicon Valley is a silly idea.

To understand the formation of Silicon Valley, we need to dig deeper and look at the root causes, not the outcome of its existence.

We tend to believe that in order to have similar by-products, copying may be the right course of action. But if we take a step back, we realize that Silicon Valley and its rapid growth was born of a radically different environment than the one we have today in the Philippines.

The emergence of Silicon Valley was the result of its properties and some catalyzers. It was a melting pot containing the existing business landscape, available resources, the needs of the times, domain expertise and willpower all coming together to make things possible.

To create rapid yet sustainable economic growth in the Philippines we need to recognize the unique properties and assets of our business scene and identify the growth catalyzers.




RESPECTING THE EXPERIENCED

We cannot believe that millennial entrepreneurs are going to single-handedly revolutionize the future of business here.

The Philippines has no shortage of decades-old family businesses and large enterprises which have been led by seasoned businessmen and women that have successfully managed to navigate this challenging and unique landscape generation after generation.

Ignoring these powerful and valuable assets of our business ecosystem in the name of innovation and disruption is just plain naive.

We cannot believe that millennial entrepreneurs are going to single-handedly revolutionize the future of business here.

The opposite is also true, where we cannot expect the enterprises of the next generation being built exactly the same way as the past using old methodologies.

ACKNOWLEDGING THE BUILDERS OF OUR FUTURE

Instead of pushing for disruption and aiming to make the old irrelevant, we can actually leverage the endless and practical knowledge of the older generations  —  in business or in any other field  —  to understand how can we create a better future.

We have to acknowledge that the future of the Philippines is going to be built by its youth.

We have to let go of the narratives that further drift apart our generations. We cannot build stereotypes around a whole generation and label billions of people with similar assumptions. How can you possibly say that all millennial or baby boomers act or behave in the exact same way across the board?

Millennials need to realize that the older generations had to work extremely hard to enable the stability and the security that we benefit from today. We have to remember that as children, we owe our parents much respect but not our lives, and we have to make our own decisions as well. We owe the future generations to work as hard, if not harder, and learn as much as possible from the people with the experience.

The experienced and the youth working together: a powerful narrative

To enable the growth of our future we can leverage the two biggest assets of our human capital, the experienced and the youth.

Instead of pushing for disruption and aiming to make the old irrelevant, we can actually leverage the endless and practical knowledge of the older generations  —  in business or in any other field  —  to understand how can we create a better future.

The youth with its energy can carry on the torch and tackle the new problems and challenges that we are facing with a renewed stamina.

Young entrepreneurs must collaborate with our established business leaders to unlock new potentials. Our tycoons and magnates can join forces with the new faces to take advantage of a fresh outlook in terms of how we solve our problems.

All of us, together with technology can create a powerful and positive impact to grow our economy faster than ever and enable more people than before to experience a better world.

Here in the Philippines, we have no shortage of limitations and issues that are waiting to be solved by those who are brave enough to embrace this identity. We can give birth to a unique yet growing business environment that is nowhere like a Silicon Valley but is built around our culture and identity that cannot be copied. Let’s build that future together.


Iran-born Shahab Shabibi is the co-founder and CEO of Machine Ventures. After founding his first company at age 13, he flew to the Philippines and built HeyKuya, an SMS-based personal assistant service, that gave job opportunities to men, through food delivery and travel booking, among others, to over 15,000 users. In only five months, HeyKuya was acquired by a similar Indonesian personal assistant service called YesBoss. Shabibi is a Forbes Under 30 Asia listee and was a speaker at the first BusinessWorld SparkUp Summit last May 2018 at SM Aura’s Samsung Hall.​