The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017 has concluded its search for the country’s most successful, inspiring entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc. with the participation of co-presenters Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. In the next few weeks, BusinessWorld will feature each of the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017.

IN A WORLD where disruption is constant, changes and challenges can happen in an instant.

It is a world where experienced entrepreneurs thrive because they know that the only way to stay ahead is to embrace creativity and innovation. While every entrepreneur’s tale is unique, the finalists’ stories have similar core elements — an eye for opportunity, a mind open to new ideas and a heart filled with passion and determination. With their powerful resolve to make a true difference for the community and the country, Filipino entrepreneurs are instrumental to our national socioeconomic progress and development.

Now in its 14th year, the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines program celebrates the remarkable men and women of vision, courage, resilience and resourcefulness who catalyze innovation in their respective enterprises and industries.

SGV Foundation President J. Carlitos G. Cruz says: “Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs are disrupting the way people do business, encouraging others to be more resourceful, ingenious and creative. In keeping with today’s highly competitive business world, they pursue, develop and promote new opportunities that help generate income, create more jobs and, ultimately, contribute to Philippine economic development.”

This year’s finalists come from diverse industries, such as food and beverage, real estate development, furniture and foam manufacturing, retail, finance, events styling, technology, personal care products, education and water services.

One of our finalists this year leveraged on childhood memories and food experiences to build a nationwide chain of fast-food outlets.

Another finalist credits his creativity for helping him pioneer events styling in the Philippines.

A finalist’s drive to address the needs of Filipino mobile phone users led him to create one of the country’s first homegrown phone brands.

Yet another entrepreneur focuses on relationships to build and market quality homes and real estate developments.

Through hard work, determination and a deep focus on quality, one finalist grew her home-based food business into a leading catering company.

Another finalist, who spotted an opportunity to market healthy fruit beverages, established a company that now manages 18 diverse food brands.

One finalist had an overarching vision to promote economic and infrastructure development in Mindanao.

Realizing an opportunity to address the potable water needs of people in some provincial areas, another finalist expanded a waterworks company that has transformed the lives of people in several municipalities.

One finalist, driven by a desire to help his family recover from business losses caused by a fire, revolutionized retail and grocery shopping in his province.

Believing in the importance of developing quality, yet affordable homes, one finalist built one of the biggest real estate development companies in the Visayas.

Another finalist applied innovation and integrity to turn a small company into the leading foam manufacturer in the Philippines.

With a keen drive to develop new processes and technologies, one finalist pioneered several building technology innovations in the country.

Another finalist transformed a rural bank into a leading microfinance credit provider in southern Luzon.

Still another used her determination and love for Kapampangan food into a highly popular chain of buffet restaurants.

One finalist parlayed a family tradition of excellence and values into establishing world-class education in the provinces.

Another finalist overcame various challenges to become a market leader in personal care paper products.

One finalist used boldness and unconventional ideas to take Philippine-made furniture to a global market.

Realizing that women needed cosmetics that combined skin care with beauty, one finalist developed a unique line of products.

And, driven by a desire to bring more and better brands and products to his people in Antique, one finalist focused on building a multi-unit franchise company.

By understanding their stories, we can trace their personal and professional journeys as they capitalize on purposeful innovation to drive meaningful change.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines program, as well as its categories, nominees, finalists and winners, is assessed and judged based on ongoing trends, changes and developments in the business environment. All nominees were screened using a system developed by Entrepreneur Of The Year in the United States and used in all countries that participate in the program. Qualified nominees were interviewed and given the chance to submit additional information as necessary. The list was further screened to determine the finalists. An independent panel of judges will select the winners from among the finalists.

The overall winner of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2017 program will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2018.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year program was developed in the United States in 1986 by professional services firm Ernst & Young (EY). Through the program, successful entrepreneurs can come forward and share their inspiring stories to awaken the entrepreneurial spirit in others. In 2001, EY expanded the program and launched the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

The SGV Foundation launched the program locally in 2003 and presented its very first Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines award to Jollibee Foods Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tony Tan Caktiong, who went on to win as World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2004. Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Book Store, was next named Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines in 2004, followed by Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc. in 2005; Senen C. Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc. in 2006, Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr. of Alaska Milk Corp. in 2007; Jesus P. Tambunting of Planters Development Bank in 2009; Tennyson G. Chen of Bounty Fresh Foods, Inc. in 2010, Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and CEO of AboitizPower Corp. in 2011; Jaime I. Ayala, Founder and CEO, Hybrid Social Solutions, Inc. in 2012; Ben Chan, chairman of Suyen Corp. in 2013 and Nico Jose S. Nolledo, chairman and CEO of Xurpas, Inc. in 2015.

The 2017 search for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is conducted every two years with the participation of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. Its official airline is Philippine Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Beginning Sept. 20, BusinessWorld will be featuring finalists’ stories of how vision and innovation inspired each one to excel in his/her respective industry.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year will be known on Oct. 18 at a formal awards banquet at the Makati Shangri-la hotel.

Banquet Sponsors are Bench; Bounty Fresh Food, Inc.; CDO Foodsphere; Fiori Di Marghi; Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc.; Jollibee Foods Corp.; LBC; SteelAsia and Universal Harvester, Inc.