SteelAsia chairman is Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines

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BENJAMIN O. YAO, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp. (SteelAsia), the Philippines’ flagship steel firm, was named the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2019 in an awards banquet held last night at the Makati Shangri-La hotel.

Mr. Yao will represent the country in the prestigious World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2020.

Mr. Yao was recognized for championing the steel industry in the Philippines. Mr. Yao’s inspiration, leadership and focus on transformation and disruption have made SteelAsia the Philippines’ flagship steel firm and among the largest rebar manufacturers in Asia. With presence across the archipelago, its annual production reaches over 2 million metric tons, serving over 2,000 customers, including the country’s biggest property developers.

Mr. Yao also received the Master Entrepreneur award for applying sound management practices in critical areas of the company including finance, business development, marketing, human resources and sales.

As part of Mr. Yao’s aim to elevate the Philippine steel industry and reduce dependence on imports, SteelAsia has established state-of-the-art facilities to manufacture H beams, sheet piles and other steel products that were previously all imported. He is also working on a new joint venture to bring in the first blast furnace to the Philippines.

Other award categories were Woman Entrepreneur, Emerging Master Entrepreneur and Small Business Entrepreneur.

Esther Wileen S. Go, president and CEO of MediLink Network, Inc., received the Woman Entrepreneur award for leveraging on her love for technology and her experience in healthcare operations when she took over her father’s small technology company which provided automated health coverage eligibility verification services. Through a series of strategic innovations, she transformed MediLink into an industry-leading, award-winning healthtech provider that also offers data mining and machine learning solutions.

Jose P. Magsaysay, Jr., chairman Emeritus of Cinco Corp., received the Emerging Master Entrepreneur award. Mr. Magsaysay started Potato Corner with his partners in 1992 to make money on the side. By experimenting with a franchising business model and making business owning accessible, the company’s network has grown to over 1,000 kiosks, including 200 outlets in 11 countries. Today, it is diversifying its brand line-up by launching food items that cater to various markets.

Rolandrei Viktor E. Varona, founder of Zark’s Food Ventures Corp., was named the Small Business Entrepreneur. His determination to have his own restaurant and capture the young market with savory burgers inspired him to establish Zark’s Burgers in 2009. Zark’s Burgers became the standard for affordable quality burgers and a go-to restaurant for Filipino youth. In just 10 years, Zark’s Burgers has grown from a humble 16-seater outfit to a franchise powerhouse boasting 60 branches nationwide.

The recipients of the category awards were chosen from among 15 finalists representing enterprises from diverse industries from various regions in the country.

The other finalists were: Alexander M. Cruz (XRC Mall Developer, Inc.), Beverly M. Dayanan (Contempo Property Holdings, Inc.), Miguel C. Garcia (DTSI Group, Inc.), Alvin S. Hing and Paul T. Holaysan (Excelsior Farms, Inc.), Henry Lim Bon Liong (SL Agritech Corp.), Olivia Limpe-Aw (Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc.), Sindulfo L. Sumagang (Oneworld Alliance Logistics Corp.), Regan C. Sy (Regan Industrial Sales, Inc.), Necisto U. Sytengco (SBS Philippines Corp.) and Aivee A. Teo (The A — Institute).

SGV Chairman and Managing Partner and SGV Foundation Chairman J. Carlitos “Itos” G. Cruz emphasized the importance of disruption and transformation, saying that, “Today’s age of transformation has given entrepreneurs vast opportunities for growth; but at the same time, it exposes businesses to various risks and uncertainties. To help us navigate through this era of disruption, we need visionaries who can leverage on new digital platforms and provide people with a clear purpose.”

All nominees went through a strict financial data ranking system used by all Entrepreneur Of The Year participating countries.

The finalists were evaluated further by an independent panel of judges composed of distinguished business personalities. The panel was co-chaired by Antonette C. Tionko, Undersecretary of Revenue Operations Group and the Corporate Affairs Group of the Department of Finance; and Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, OBE, chairman of Capital Shares Investment Corp. and 2009 Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines. The other panel members were Ramon S. Monzon, president and CEO of The Philippine Stock Exchange, Inc.; Rizalina G. Mantaring, president of the Management Association of the Philippines; Reynaldo D. Laguda, executive director of Philippine Business for Social Progress; and Natividad Y. Cheng, chairperson and CEO of Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc. (URATEX) and 2017 Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines.

The Entrepreneur Of The Year was founded in the United States by professional services firm EY in 1986 to recognize the achievements of the most successful and innovative entrepreneurs worldwide. In 2001, EY expanded the program and launched the World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

In the Philippines, the SGV Foundation, Inc. established the Entrepreneur Of The Year program, in 2003.

Jollibee Foods Corp. Chairman and CEO Tony Tan Caktiong, the first ever Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines, went on to win as World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Book Store, was named Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines the year after and, followed by Lance Y. Gokongwei, President and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc.; Senen Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc.; Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr., president and CEO of Alaska Milk Corp.; Jesus Tambunting, then former chairman and President of Planters Development Bank; Tennyson 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.; Ben Chan, chairman of the Board of Suyen Corp.; Nico Jose S. Nolledo, chairman and CEO of Xurpas, Inc.; and Natividad Cheng, chairperson and CEO of Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc.

Supporting the program as co-presenters are the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. Official airline is Philippine Airlines. Media sponsors are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Banquet Sponsors include Global Ferronickel Holdings, Inc.; International Container Terminal Services, Inc.; Jollibee Foods Corp.; Manny O Wines; Multiflex RNC Philippines, Inc.; Robert Blancaflor Group, Inc.; Udenna Corp.; Universal Harvester, Inc.; and Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.