Have concept, have money

by Chit Juan | June 29, 2013 5:04 pm

I remember when I entered an online contest for business ideas almost five years ago. I shared the contest rules with my two ECHOstore partners and we sent in our entries on the ECHOstore, a café and a market, one from each partner. The contest was Business in Development (BiD network) which is run in the country by Philippine Business for Social Progress and BiD Network of the Netherlands. Guess what? Our business idea was one of two winners who were sent to Rotterdam (we went with Rags2Riches’ founder Xavier Alpasa). We each had P100,000 in cash plus a chance to win another Euro30,000 in the international round.

Just last year Jeannie Javelosa, our other ECHOstore partner joined the Cartier Women’s Initiative awards, another competition who calls for online entries, and we became Finalist for Asia Pacific. Now, we are called for Cartier events for past finalists, similar to the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

It is never a bad idea to join these business plan competitions. The worst is that you may not take home the cash prize, but you would have gained mentorship and a lot of experience along the way. Especially for social entrepreneurship, which is a new business model, entering business plan comps can only improve the way you conduct business. The coach for our Cartier contest met with us via Skype several times before the final deadline. We would revise numbers, change or tweak new strategies depending on discussions with the mentor or coach.

A group of advocates for young women to get into business called Spark and the US Embassy have also launched a new contest which has some cash prizes at stake from $1,000 to $5,000. There even is a YWEB (Young Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp) so those who qualify can be mentored by professionals and entrepreneurs with experience in businesses of all kinds. The deadline for applications is on July 30. The contest is open to women only as Spark advocates for young women entrepreneurs.

Here are excerpts from their email to me:

“Women entrepreneurs, who want to be part of the Bootcamp, must submit a company profile describing their business, products or services, accompanied by a copy of their Department of Trade and Industry registration papers and their financial statements for the past two years.

The paper must be from 3 to 5 pages in length using Times New Roman font 11 and must be emailed to yweb.manila2013@gmail.com.”

Travel arrangements to and from the seminar, accommodations and training materials will be provided to those invited to attend the Boot camp. YWEB will provide women entrepreneurs with an excellent opportunity to connect to experts and advisors who can assist them in scaling up their small or medium scale enterprises.

There are even more contests like the Rolex awards where Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches bagged a prize already. There also is Echoing Green which focuses on green business ideas.

And if you are not into contests, there always are grants and aid for a good business and development idea. This time, a proposal with a proof of concept or a business plan is needed.

These are just some of the ways to make money or fund a business through competitions online and offline. There really is no reason to say that there is no hope for a small start up. Who knows? Your next business may just be sitting in your laptop’s archives.

Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee.

You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph.

A different boot camp

By Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
8:01 pm | Monday, June 24th, 2013

A boot camp is a term that refers to the intensive, usually physical, training given to military recruits to prepare them for life as soldiers, sailors, Marines, pilots or even members of the Special Forces.

From my limited knowledge, gleaned mostly from movies and TV, a boot camp consists mainly of rigorous physical training and tests of endurance, including being yelled at periodically by stern taskmasters known as drill sergeants. So when I first heard about a boot camp for young women entrepreneurs, I imagined young women being forced to crawl through muddy ground under a net of barbed wire, scaling wooden barriers, and jogging in the hot sun while being harangued by drill sergeants.

Well, maybe the participants in the YWEB, or Young Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp 2013, won’t be slogging through muddy ground or testing their physical strength. “It will be more intellectual,” explains Mel Alonzo who will manage the YWEB, in effect becoming the dreaded drill sergeant. But I am sure it will prove just as, if not more, challenging than the typical test of endurance, and the lessons learned by the young recruits should last much longer. In fact, it is envisioned that the women joining the boot camp will “echo” their learnings in their own communities and create even more young entrepreneurs.

The YWEB is being organized by a women’s organization called Spark—for Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (Organization of Filipinas for Reform and Progress)—and the US Embassy to “provide opportunities for young women entrepreneurs to be mentored by successful businesswomen and other experts.”

As Kathryn “Katy” Bondy, economic officer of the US Embassy explains, “the development of entrepreneurs has long been a priority of the Obama administration,” recognizing that entrepreneurs, or self-employed business people, are the “drivers of economic development.” The YWEB, a project unique to the Philippines, is also Spark’s first major project, aimed, so Alonzo claims, “to encourage more women to drive growth and innovation in the Philippine economy.”

* * *

The YWEB is open to all Filipino women between 25 and 35 years old, who own their own businesses and have been operating for at least two years. Applicants will compete for one of 30 slots open to participants—10 each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. During the three-day boot camp, to be held in Manila, participants will learn all about “finding opportunities for growth, learning how to use social media effectively, and improving budgeting,” among other skills, in addition to receiving mentoring from other entrepreneurs behind successful start-ups.

Of the 30 selected participants, one will receive $5,000 (yes, US dollars) for the best and most innovative business plan, which should center on “scaling up” her existing business. Three runners-up—one each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao—will also receive $1,000.

A panel of businesswomen will listen to the participants present their business plans. At the same time, each of the 30 young businesswomen is expected to conduct “echo” seminars in their localities to share what they had learned or experienced while at the YWEB. Alonzo, who now sits as a board member of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority but who is best remembered as former president of the Pag-Ibig Fund, says they also hope to gather the YWEB a year after the boot camp and host “a meeting with US-based business people” not just to learn from their experiences, but more importantly, establish contacts and expand networks.

* * *

Jenny Lind Elmaco, a trustee of Spark, says one of the criteria for choosing the YWEB participants is “social impact,” emphasizing that the businesswoman’s enterprise should help create resilient communities and a sustainable environment.

Other things the organizers are looking for: creativity, innovation and “the potential for scaling up.”
Alonzo notes that “countless studies have shown that countries that encourage economic participation and entrepreneurial activity from women tend to do better overall.” And creating more entrepreneurs, says Bondy, “in turn leads to political stability and the growth of civil society.” Or as Alonzo remarks: “[E]conomic independence is key to women’s empowerment.”

Women entrepreneurs who want to be part of the YWEB must submit a company profile describing the business, products or services, accompanied by a copy of their Department of Trade and Industry registration papers and their financial statements for the past two years. For more detailed instructions, e-mail your questions to yweb.manila2013@gmail.com. Deadline for submission is July 30.

* * *

Spark Philippines’ statement of purpose says that it is committed to the “development of women and women’s organizations as full partners in national development.”

With a board of trustees composed of women well-known in business, academe and civil society, Spark aims to establish a “network of women leaders in all sectors and at all levels, who can participate in discourse and decision-making from the community level up to the national.” They also hope to network and partner with other women’s groups, business, national and local governments, the Church and the academe, while “acting as advocate, oversight/watchdog of women’s issues.”

While people say Filipino women are already empowered enough, the truth is that “empowerment” holds true only for a thin layer of women in the top tiers of Philippine society, who may be very visible in the media, but represent only a small percentage of the vast potential pool of leaders to be found in the rest of the country.Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/55247/a-different-boot-camp#ixzz2XmETqC1W
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YWEB 2013: Unleash your Entrepreneurial Spirit!

Manila, June 21, 2013 — The Young Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp 2013 (YWEB), organized by the Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (SPARK!) and the U.S. Embassy, which will run from September 23 to 25 in Metro Manila, will provide opportunities for young women entrepreneurs to be mentored by successful businesswomen and other experts.

Women who own their own businesses and have been operating for at least two years are invited to compete to be part of a three-day session designed to help improve their businesses. Finding opportunities for growth, learning how to effectively use social media, and improving budgeting skills, in addition to mentoring from other successful start-ups are some of the topics that will be covered in the lectures and workshops that comprise the Young Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp.

Female business owners from all over the country will be selected to join the workshop and have the opportunity to compete for additional funding for their enterprises. Ten participants each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao will be chosen to participate in the three-day training session. Of those 30, one will receive US$5,000 for the best and most innovative business plan. Three runners-up – one each from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – will also receive US$1,000. Interested female entrepreneurs are invited to send in their applications by July 30.

SPARK! Philippines president Mel Alonzo and U.S. Embassy Economic Officer Katy Bondy observed that the Bootcamp aims to encourage more women to drive growth and innovation in the Philippine economy.

Alonzo remarked: “Countless studies have shown that countries that encourage economic participation and entrepreneurial activity from women tend to do better overall. We should empower more women to do business!”

Bondy said: “Entrepreneurs are the engines of economic growth and job creation, which in turns leads to political stability and the growth of civil society. We believe that working with entrepreneurs is a way to build opportunities around the world.”

Women entrepreneurs, who want to be part of the Bootcamp, must submit a company profile describing their business, products or services, accompanied by a copy of their Department of Trade and Industry registration papers and their financial statements for the past two years. The paper must be from 3 – 5 pages in length using Times New Roman font 11 and must be emailed toyweb.manila2013@gmail.com.Travel arrangements to and from the seminar, accommodations and training materials will be provided to those invited to attend the Boot camp. YWEB will provide women entrepreneurs with an excellent opportunity to connect to experts and advisors who can assist them in scaling up their small or medium scale enterprises