People Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Social Media

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Financial health and online branding are the focus of the recently concluded Symposium on Entrepreneurship Advocacy and Business Development through Social Networking. It was a symposium prepared by the Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation, Inc, at the UP Institute for Small-Scale Industries.

Clearly enough, many of our countrymen including I, can attest to our utter lack of financial literacy which somehow accounts to 1 out of 10 Filipinos who only consciously save for retirement. Add to the fact that our average savings rate as a nation is only 16% which is the lowest in Asia.

It’s a startling revelation considering that the Philippines showed a promising start at the end of World War II with many international leaders at that time expressed their confidence of the country’s economic future. But what happened?

Financial literacy

Suffice it to say that the traditional Filipino family tolerates dependence with married children live at a parent’s house. Old parents are taken cared of and are perpetual financial obligation to the family simply because they do not have financial resource such as retirement funds to support their needs.

It shouldn’t surprise you if you ask a colleague and learn that the only money he has at the bank is regular savings and nothing else, with no consideration of his financial future when his hair started to turn gray and with age-related diseases started settling in. Who cares about the future when there are kids to take care of us in the first place?

Our traditional Philippine culture on family breeds a love-and-hate feeling among us Filipinos. We love to take care of our own and be able to nurture them as long as we can, even when nothing is left for us to fund our future needs. But this also creates a never ending, vicious cycle of responsibilities that tasks future generations about their financial future. This fact only reveals the appalling state of economics in Filipino families and how it threatens the future of our children. How can we break this cycle?


Randell Tiongson, a renowed Filipino finance coach, candidly jokes about how one gets financial wealth. He said that people get it in three unique ways or a combination of these – inherit it, marry it, and earn, save, and invest and spend less more than you earn. Makes perfect sense. Nothing’s wrong with the first and the last but surely “marrying money” is a sure way to live a miserable life as Tiongson pointed out which I agreed.

Entrepreneurship is something not commonly taught in Filipino families. Our thinking is wired on the fact that if one gets to finish school, one gets a good job in an office. It’s very different to families in countries were entrepreneurship is a staple discussion during meal time, schooling is seen as an opportunity to help one build a stable and powerful business.

Tiongson believes that the only way to break that cycle is to imbue the idea of entrepreneurship among Filipinos in their early years. He also believes in the power of investment and saving for the future as a way to build a stable financial future for the family.

Harnessing the power of the new media: social media

Our world today is now in a new era of digital revolution. Our intense need to connect is at its peak and more people than ever are using the power of the Internet and social media to connect to one another. We are now more involved in politics than ever before and suddenly each of us have a voice, an opinion on something. Each of us has just become a critic.

Carlo Ople, a digital marketing executive, shared his views on what it means to be “social “these days. People constantly look for businesses and they seek to engage with them and see how they respond. Consumers now want to purchase products not because of its perceived value but how such product relate to what they stand for as a parent, as a woman, as a man, or as a senior citizen.

People connect with businesses that share their personal values and this makes branding important for every companies big and small, either online or the traditional “brick and mortar”. Everyone now has an equal chance of becoming famous and they can use the power of social media to showcase their “brand” and share with people what they truly stand for. From here on, we now see how social media and branding go hand in hand in building one’s business be it for “personal” or corporate use.

You may visit Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation or like them on Facebook to find out what’s latest in the SME world.