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Filipinas Who Mean Business

Leo Amadeus Ruiz • 31/03/2021

More and more women are venturing into entrepreneurship in recent years. In The 2018 State of Women-Owned Business Report commissioned by American Express, it showed that the number of women-owned businesses in the United States increased by over 3,000% from 1972 to 2018, and is now accounting to a 40% share of all the firms in the country from just 4.6% 46 years ago.

This trend can be seen not only in the US but in the Philippines as well, with some of our own colleagues in Cushman & Wakefield Philippines starting up their own business ventures. Let’s take a look at the story of some of the womentrepreneurs of Cushman & Wakefield Philippines.

 

Alpha: Dominating the local burger scene in Malolos, Bulacan

Alpha Baltazar, Business Development Officer of the Project & Development Services team of Cushman & Wakefield Philippines, has always been known for her innate entrepreneurial spirit.

Back in 2016, before the food stalls in Ecotower (the building where the Cushman & Wakefield Philippines office is currently located) started operating, Alpha has taken the opportunity to sell lunch meals and snacks in the office. She recalled how she had to buy ingredients after work, then wake up early in the morning to prepare around 40 packed lunch and snacks for her colleagues who didn’t have affordable options back then.

Alpha’s love for cooking and business continued when she opened up a stall in the weekend market of Greenfield District in Mandaluyong during the Christmas holiday season of 2018. At the site, she sold chicken wings and lomi, a Filipino egg noodle dish with a savory soup. This extended past the holiday season, operating until May 2019, as her sales were a hit.

Early in the pandemic, Alpha also had a short stint selling T-bone steaks. But with the lockdown being extended, she had to return to her hometown in Calumpit, Bulacan. And in her hometown, her entrepreneurial nature pushed her to conceptualize yet another business.

Having a family member who used to work in the food Industry in Manila, and noticing that there was not much presence of decent burger options in their area, Alpha and her siblings took the opportunity by working on a burger recipe that they first offered to their neighbors. After a while, they were able to find a small kiosk. And from there, the FlatGrill Bistro was born. 

Filipinas who mean business

The FlatGrill Bistro is now a full-fledged burger joint with dine-in option, and is also available on FoodPanda . Their menu now includes an array of burger varieties, pasta choices, chicken wings, loaded fries, and lemonade.

“I worked so hard in making FlatGrill Bistro turn into reality,” Alpha said. “FlatGrill Bistro is very important for me because it is a family business,” she continued. 

Alpha said that the capital for the business was a joint effort with her siblings. As the eldest, she had to take lead, taking conceptualization, budgeting, and marketing very seriously. She has done this without compromising her role in the PDS team. 

“In a way, FlatGrill Bistro made our family stronger because we are all working together in helping to make it a success,” Alpha said. 

With FlatGrill Bistro continuing to perform well, Alpha is hoping that they can soon expand to other areas. 
 
Filipinas who mean business

When asked what her advice to other women who would like to start a business, Alpha has this to say: “Start a business that you will be passionate about. It is passion that will make you work harder because you know you love what you are doing. Also, be patient because success doesn’t happen overnight. There are ups and downs, but you must persevere. One day, you’ll just realize that you’ve come a long way. But even so, you should continue to strive harder.”

 

Dona: Of Jewelry and Muay Thai

At first glance, it may be hard to see jewelry and Muay Thai in one sentence as they seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. One of our colleagues, however, is making waves by being engaged in businesses involving the two.

Mary Donabel Vidal, who joined the recently-formed Manila-based Creative & Design Services team for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region, helps run their family-owned jewelry business called Lourel. The brand prides itself of having beautiful custom-made jewelries for which Dona designs. 

Dona’s pieces are adored by local and international fashion icons such as Rajo Laurel, Arnel Papa, and Josie Natori. She is proud to have her jewelry designs worn on fashion shows. She also designed the rings for the wedding of actress Sheena Halili.

Filipinas who mean business

While all these sound so posh and glamorous, Dona has another side – one that’s dedicated for Muay Thai. 

“My engagement with both jewelry and Muay Thai describes who I am as a person. I may have a side that’s all about fashion, but I am also not afraid to get my hands dirty,” said Dona. 

Dona started as a Muay Thai enthusiast as her brother used to compete. Being with her brother, Dona was able to meet a lot of personalities in the realms of Muay Thai including Coach Erwin Tagle, one of the pillars of Philippine mixed martial arts, who had the idea of bringing Muay Thai in the Philippines to another level.
 
Armed with her experiences in helping run their family business as well as her marketing experience from her previous employer, Dona was able to help turn their dream into a reality by bringing a franchise of the World Boxing Council (WBC) Muay Thai into the country, and calling it the Ultimate Muaythai Challenge (UMC).

UMC is now known for holding WBC-sanctioned bouts, and has produced its inaugural National Featherweight Champion in the person of Fritz Biagtan in 2019. 

Aside from holding official matches, UMC is also doing its part in utilizing sports to pull the youth from vices and help them win sports scholarships for quality education. UMC works with local government units in order to support aspiring Muay Thai trainees with their schooling.

“One success story that I am proud of is that we have one beneficiary who used to roam the streets of Quezon City with sort of juvenile delinquents. With UMC and the help of Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, he is now our champion for the junior division, and is also doing well in his studies. And this is what we want to instill – that Muay Thai is not just about strength and power but also about discipline and respecting even your opponents,” Dona shares. 
 

UMC is now known for holding WBC-sanctioned bouts, and has produced its inaugural National Featherweight Champion in the person of Fritz Biagtan in 2019. 

Filipinas who mean business

Aside from holding official matches, UMC is also doing its part in utilizing sports to pull the youth from vices and help them win sports scholarships for quality education. UMC works with local government units in order to support aspiring Muay Thai trainees with their schooling.

“One success story that I am proud of is that we have one beneficiary who used to roam the streets of Quezon City with sort of juvenile delinquents. With UMC and the help of Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, he is now our champion for the junior division, and is also doing well in his studies. And this is what we want to instill – that Muay Thai is not just about strength and power but also about discipline and respecting even your opponents,” Dona shares. 

With the pandemic, however, both Lourel and UMC are facing the same challenges we are facing. Lourel, for the time being, is focusing on more timeless pieces, but is still open for custom-made jewelry. 

UMC, on the other hand, with the prohibition on contact sports, is unable to hold matches, but is continuing to support its members and beneficiaries by holding video trainings, while also trying to take the opportunity to send some trainees to Thailand, following strict health and travel protocols.

When asked about her advice for those who would want to venture into businesses, Dona said, “Don’t enter a business just because you are excited about the idea. You also need to be mindful of the work that is required to run a business. It takes a good balance of passion, level-headedness, and practicality to make a business a success.” 

“Running a business made me realize the importance of networking. I used to hate it, but I later on realized how vital it is. Networking not only helps build business, but also connects you to great people who can then become your mentors, which will be very helpful in becoming successful,” Dona added.

Alpha and Dona are perfect examples of women who have stepped out of their comfort zones and turned their passion into a business that they can pour their hearts to. Matched with support from the right people and the eagerness to strive for success, women can definitely make wonders in the realms of business.

 

 

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