I first became interested in senior entrepreneurs when I met one about two years ago in a home for the elderly. Lolo Yuri, who was in his early 60s at the time, was deftly making baskets out of paper twine. Not only did his creations look amazing, but he looked like he was enjoying what he was doing! Last year, I met Leonida "Nida" Antonio, a senior serial entrepreneur who started her journey in her 20s.
Today, in her early 70s, she remains active in designing, making, and selling fashion accessories and home décor and has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
As you may have already guessed, Lolo Yuri and Nida are senior entrepreneurs. Those who establish a business when they retire or who transition to self-employment in older age.
Understandably, it could be puzzling why someone would want to continue working past 60 years old, the official retirement age in the country. Is it for financial reasons? The answers might surprise you.
According to studies conducted in countries with a rapidly growing number of senior entrepreneurs, they are primarily motivated to engage in entrepreneurial activities because of pull motivation factors. These factors, or reasons, greatly vary as there are senior entrepreneurs. The most common is the realization of a long-held dream or a business idea. Take the case of Narciso "Choy" Villaluz, owner of Casa Luz, a home-based food takeaway counter. "Shortly before I retired, I decided that if I were to make that entrepreneurial leap, I might as well do
something I enjoy and love very much. What came to mind was cooking."
Second, some older entrepreneurs become self-employed because they want to build a business based on their previous work experiences. Third, others are motivated because of start-up rewards and the satisfaction derived from running a business. And lastly, some engage in entrepreneurship simply because they want to stay active in business activities. In the words of Olga Luna, another serial entrepreneur, "I gravitate toward opportunities that will allow me to do new things. In the past, I opened a drugstore and started my executive search firm. Currently, I am a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils."
According to Isele and Rogoff (2014), the economic impact of the businesses started and managed by senior entrepreneurs is big. They create jobs not only for themselves but also for others. They contribute not only to the local but also the national economy.
In this regard, a better understanding of this cohort could increase public and private sector support. Policymakers could make senior entrepreneurship a more prominent element in active labor market policies, similar to those implemented in several member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Meanwhile, the private sector and its partner agencies could introduce technical support and resources specific to older adults keen on or are already pursuing self-employment.
Senior entrepreneurs have a wealth of ideas, work experience, and an eagerness to remain productive! It is time to recognize them as assets and work across sectors to unleash their full potential.
Lisa R. Bruan is a Doctor of Business Administration student at the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She can be reached at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University and its faculty and administrators.