Rotary Provides Business Opportunities for Rotaractors

By Philippine Rotaract Magazine | Posted on May 27, 2021

Last year, Korean hit series Start-Up introduced the brilliance of Nam Do-San, the grit of Seo Dal-mi, and the drive of Han Ji-Pyeong. Millions of viewers got hooked to the point that many of them imagined themselves in the Sandbox headquarters where they were to deliver their pitches in front of hungry yet discerning sharks. Doubt and insecurity crept in, yet, the entrepreneurial spirit among the youth was alive.

Rotary District 3830 and Rotary Club of Muntinlupa North also believe in the power of young minds to start and grow enterprises of their own. The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought about economic turmoil and an ongoing health crisis but Filipinos have been relentless since the outbreak. The quarantine period saw the rise of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) nationwide—a big chunk of which were businesses started by young individuals. 

This 2021, the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards or RYLA of District 3830 gave birth to START-UPportunities. 

What is RYLA and START-UPportunities? 

Organized by Rotary clubs and districts, RYLA is an intensive leadership experience that opens opportunities to young leaders by enriching them with necessary skills and providing a fun immersive training. 

For 2021, District 3830 and Rotary Club of Muntinlupa North launched START-UPportunities, an entrepreneurial pitch competition for young leaders and student entrepreneurs aged 14 to 30 years old. Throughout the duration, participants nominated by District 3830 received expert feedback, mentoring, and coaching. A cash prize package and in-kind business support services awaited the winner at the end of the contest. 

RYLA 2021 opens via Zoom 

Around 300 millennials attended the Opening Event held last March 6 via Zoom with DCC Archie Reano and IPP Avelet Bautista as moderators. PVP Catherine “Katie” Lopez called the meeting to order and RYLA Chairwoman PP Donna Abanto delivered the Welcome Remarks. Past District Governor Sonny Coloma led the panel discussions and actor Dingdong Dantes graced the online session as one of the event’s major highlights. 

PDG Sonny Coloma introduced Top 8 local Entrepreneurs and their former small businesses that are now eight of the country’s biggest companies: Socorro Ramos’s National Bookstore; Tony Tan Caktiong’s Jollibee; Edgar Sia’s Mang Inasal; Cresside Tueres’ Greenwich Pizza; Milagros, Clarita and Doris Leelin’s Goldilocks; Joe Magsaysay’s Potato Corner and Araceli and Jun Manas’ Henlin. 

He followed it with a live interview of Past President Jun Manas Jr who was inspired and helped by his wife Cely to start Henlin 38 years ago; 27-year-old Warren Umlas who opened 1960 Barbershop to prove to his parents his business acumen and determination to be successful; and Gerald Perry Marin who, at 23 years old then, founded FoPo Food Powder that extends the life of wasted fruits and vegetables up to two years by turning them into powder. 

The stage was then given to entrepreneur and former University Professor Leo Cruzate who taught the attendees how to avoid start-up mistakes by developing the “Mindset of a Businessman.” PDG Sonny interviewed him on his experience as Founder and owner of TOQUE Construction and Trading, PP Donna Abanto for her breakthrough in the hotel industry as CEO/Owner of AMORE Hotel Manila, and PVP Katie about her expertise in the garments manufacturing and events organizing industries. Napoleon Hill’s words summarize this session the best: “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” The challenge for the participants was to focus their start-ups on locally produced agricultural goods.

Almost half the day had passed but everyone was still wide awake for the last speaker, actor Dingdong Dantes.

Dingdong has been a longtime advocate of environmentalism and has been known to use his public platform in helping bring about social change. His start-up idea came about when his wife, actress Marian Rivera, needed a rider to deliver an order for her flower business. Dingdong volunteered and it was then that he saw an opportunity. The Eureka moment eventually developed into Ding Dong PH, a delivery app service that promises to provide solutions for the specific needs of its costumers. It also became Dindong’s way to sustainably help his affected colleagues in the entertainment industry by giving them a job as riders. 

His word of advice for budding entrepreneurs? Discern. Plan. Act. 

How to get a start-up running? 

For Dingdong, a business starts by identifying the problem and knowing why one wants to act on it. The next stage is to plan how to scale, sustain and make the business an impactful one

Once the plan is laid out, Dingdong said that there’s no better time to push the go signal. Do it properly, legally, and ethically—not by working hard but by working smartly and always thinking of innovative ways to solve the problem.

Dingdong emphasized the need to be creatively sustainable to survive the cutthroat competition. Make sure to leverage key resources and connect with friends and colleagues who have the skillset to deliver what is needed. 

The actor-businessman has high hopes for the success of his start-ups that will enable him to be of more service to others. 

District Governor Chacha Camacho delivers Closing Remarks 

The event ended with District Governor Chacha Camacho’s Closing Remarks. She thanked all the participants and speakers for taking the time to learn with them. She emphasized the power of the youth to create change. 

“As the world heals from the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we Rotarians gain clarity with the version of truth and reality that our youth, you, all of you there has the power to create change. There has never been a better time than now than to embrace this reality,” Governor Camacho said. 

“Our world is now dominated by young people with the vision and the drive to take advantage of rapid change and move on from the old ways of doing things. Indeed, Rotary opens opportunities,” she added. 

It’s not a stretch to say that RYLA STARTUPportunities is District 3830’s real-life Sandbox. Much like in the Start-Up series, RYLA allows deserving young minds to grow their business, be their own boss, and create a lasting impact in society. 

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