Womentorship and agripreneurship are the game-changers

Last Nov. 24, during our week-long celebration for Go Negosyo’s 15th anniversary, we held the Agriculture and WOMEN Conference 2020 simultaneously presenting international and local powerhouse speakers. The conference attracted more than 39,000 Facebook viewers. Through the week long celebration, we made sure that we recognized the thriving community that we have built over the years: people and milestones.

The day started with the Agri Conference, which outlined opportunities in agribusiness and emphasized its essential role in the post-pandemic recovery. Sec. Fortunato T. Dela Peña, DA-Agri-Industrialization and Fisheries Usec. Ching Caballero, TESDA executive dir. Imelda B. Taganas, SL Agritech chairman and CEO, Henry Lim Bon Liong, Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar of Go Negosyo, Arvind Narula of Urmatt Group (Thailand), Ka Yi Ling of Shiok Meats (Singapore), Elizabeth Hernandez of Corteva Agriscience, and Cherrie Atilano, DA food security ambassador, were among the speakers. Let me share with you some of their notable statements:

“We have a startup research program involving our agriculture industry and even our health council, but the biggest come from the energy group followed by agriculture. Here we have a funding opportunity for startups to translate their early-stage technologies into market-ready products through R&D,” Sec. Dela Peña said on reinforcing research programs in the agriculture sector.

“In building a sustainable future, through its support, prosperity, and growth of the agriculture and fishery enterprises, we take note of the vital role of the private sector and of the programs that you have so laid down at the grassroots level,” Usec. Caballero said.

“Among the priority sectors of TESDA is agriculture because, without it we will not have an immediate source of food and sustenance. A vital part of the agriculture transformation that will lead to a dynamic and high-growth sector is the workforce. We have developed the 4th Industrial Revolution Framework for the Philippine technical and vocational training system,” Dir. Taganas shared.

“If we slowly want to open up the economy and restart things and bounce back better, we really need to ensure that critical support is given to our MSMEs and most especially yung ating mga farmers. When we look at MSMEs, we can see that more than half of them are actually in the food sector and therefore also part of the agriculture value chain,” Ginggay said.

“We all know agriculture is a very challenging area because we are subject to nature’s decisions. We have, over the years, found out that the biggest thing as businesses engage in agriculture, is that you have to base your operations on innovation… Innovation is critical because without innovation, doing basic crops is a difficult proposition. A high-level innovation is critical,” Narula shared.

“Farming is actually a very small part of Singapore and we actually import almost 90 percent of our food. So food security has been an issue, especially in the last few months where COVID was around, where some of the shipping and flights have been a lot slower than before and some countries are not able to export as much food as before So for Singapore, we need to innovate and think what do we do,” Ling said.

During the WOMEN Conference, some of the notable personalities who empowered not just our women participants, but also the general crowd were Sen. Grace Poe, Sandra Sanchez-Montano of the Philippine Commission on Women, Hafimi Abdul Haadii of the APEC Business Advisory Council (Brunei), Angeline Tham of Angkas, Glenda Victorio of Brilliant Skin Essentials, and Rebecca Bustamante of ASIA CEO Events.

We’re lucky to be joined by Sen. Grace again. “2020 will be a great year of significance as it marks a year with the experience of one of the worse global pandemics that resulted in both health and economic upheaval, but 2020 also marks a year with Filipino women entrepreneurs displaying resilience, strategic thinking and ability to adapt,” she opened.

“2020 also marks the 15th anniversary of Go Negosyo. This amazing organization continues its support at MSMEs even in these difficult times,” Sen. Grace said.

“For women entrepreneurs, you have to arm yourself with information on how to keep yourself safe, your family, putting yourself in a mindset on what your consumers, your potential customers are going to be thinking and facing, and that’s added on a normal business. Then go out there, take on these opportunities,” Angeline said.

“A quick word of advice is don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think there’s always a system there for you. Secondly, upskill as much as you can,” Haadii, our speaker from Brunei said.

“I think what we just need to push is for the industry to give women their chance to be able to get higher because sometimes, it’s their gender that compromises their opportunity and their chances to be employed. Women power was there, and we are getting there and we’re changing the industry altogether,” international chef Margarita Fores said.