PROFIT is often the topic of conversation of many businessmen and aspiring entrepreneurs. During coffee sessions and “salo-salo,” businessmen are on the lookout for tips regarding market edge, market shares, top talents, better logistics, and such. But learning from the school of hard knocks by rallying in Mendiola in my youth, and then working for the Sheik of Dubai and studying at Harvard after the 9/11 bombing, the most important aspects of business are many times taken for granted. The core of business is people, principles, values and virtue.
Good business means providing authentic solutions and service to the needs and wants of people. But being authentic means assessing and understanding the root cause of problems, and being honest about the strengths, limitations and value of the service rendered. On the other hand, the need of the target market is understood in the context of society as a whole. How does your business impact the entire society?
Principles, values and virtue are what guide the operations of business. It is the culture that the employees of the company embrace, and it is translated into the output of the work. These are reminders of the company on how to deliver masterful craftsmanship, honest work, and positive impact to society. Without it, the business is susceptible to cheating, haphazard quality of work, sub-standard designs, and corruption.
Without people at the core of business, there will be no service rendered. Without virtue and values, it is like short-changing the people with half-hearted work. As the Dharma Master of Tzu Chi said, one must have both the heart and the skills.
What we need to show at Asean Summit
The five things that we need to highlight during the Asean summit so that more global business and investors will come to our country are: skilled labor and good craftsmanship, a comprehensive transportation and infrastructure
plan, safety and security, family-oriented values and hospitality, and clean restrooms.
Skilled labor and craftsmanship. Currently, we are one of the top English-speaking countries in the world. This has long been the advantage of the Philippines and it is reflected in the meteoric rise of the business process outsource (BPO) industry. But we shouldn’t stop there, we need to go deeper in the value chain and tap into software development. We can learn from the development of Indian’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore. Apart from the English facility and skill of our workers in the IT industry, many Filipinos are good connoisseurs, cooks, musicians and artisans.
A comprehensive transportation system and ease of doing business. Transportation is key in moving goods and people efficiently. The port areas should be able to unload and distribute goods as fast as possible so that cost of operations can significantly go down. On the other hand, with good mass transportation, more people will be able to go multiple places in a short amount of time. Walkability of our streets will also increase retail locators because foot traffic will significantly increase. Imagine Binondo and the downtown area of Iloilo adapting the alfresco lifestyle of Paris.
Safety and security. Plainly and simply, business will not thrive in violent areas. For businesses to be able to expand in the other regions and provinces of the country, safety should be assured. Industrial factories and plantations should be guarded against insurgencies, but at the same time these industries should be required to collaborate with the local community so that jobs, education and other opportunities will be given to the locals.
Family-oriented values. It shows that Filipino workers always work for their loved ones. In what country you can find parents giving their children almost everything that their hearts desire? (though hopefully not to the point of spoiling them). Parents always giving new clothes, new gadgets, groceries, eating together. During weekends, you would see families dining out and shopping together. This means consumer products in the Philippines always have multiple markets.
Clean restrooms. This is one of the secrets to attracting more tourists. This is where many of our tourist areas and establishments need to improve. Having to use a dirty rest room leaves a bad impression. In 2014, Thailand, one of the most visited tourist destinations of the world, even launched a campaign on clean toilets.
Long-term economic planning and devt
What is hindering the development of the Philippines’ manufacturing and processing industries?
For the Philippines to be able to attain high sustainable economic development in the coming decades, it cannot rely on natural industries such as tourism and raw-material production and on high population-consumption alone. The country has to learn how to process its natural resources into other products and be able to create new industries out of them.
Despite its abundance of resources, the Philippines has not capitalized on the potential of taking part in the other industries in the value chain. Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan are more limited in terms of raw-material sourcing, yet these countries were able to venture into luxury car-making, textiles, smart phones, smart televisions and other technological breakthroughs. These countries needed to import important raw materials to produce the world’s top branded products. According to author Michael Porter in “The Competitive Advantage of Nations,” written for the Harvard Business Review, whenever a resource is expensive or unavailable, companies in countries like Japan innovate. He said basic factors, such as a pool of labor or a local raw-material source, do not constitute an advantage in knowledge-intensive industries.
As the 30th Asean Summit opens in Manila, the Philippines needs to show strong political will, visionary leadership, good planning, good design, and good governance. Through this, the Philippines will make its mark as one of the most globally competitive countries in the world.