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MANILA, Philippines - What do Efren Penaflorida, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz and Elma Arboleras have in common? They are all young Filipinos who have made a difference in the lives of the underprivileged.
Penaflorida, a former street kid, teaches children through his “pushcart classroom” and was awarded CNN Hero of the Year in 2009. Ruiz is founding partner and president of Rags2Riches, a social enterprise that transforms products from scraps. Arboleras was the inventor behind a traffic monitoring system that won gold at the British Invention Show in 2011.
It is this passion for the youth to make a difference for nation-building that telecom giant Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) wants to tap into as it launches a P1- million project aimed at awakening nationalism and social entrepreneurship among young Filipinos.
Dubbed Project Pagsulong, the project calls on young entrepreneurs aged 18-30 years old to form a team of three to five people and propose a business idea that addresses a societal issue or need.
Jonathan de Quiroz, Product Manager of PLDT KaAsenso, said the contest is open to all groups regardless of their socio-economic status. The teams are expected to submit business ideas that have the potential to reduce poverty in the country and demonstrate financial viability and operational sustainability.
The business venture must be an independent operation and not a sub-project or operation of any local or foreign non-profit organization, a private company or its subsidiary. Start-up businesses are welcome to join as long as they have not won any business grants from other competitions.
“We believe in the power and potential of this generation,” said De Quiros during Project Pagsulong’s press launch Thursday.
The top three teams to be chosen will receive cash grants of P500,000, P300,000, and P100,000 while a special People’s Choice winner, which will be chosen by online voting through social media, will receive P100,000 cash.
De Quiros said entries will be screened and shortlisted. Those who make it will be asked to submit an expanded version of the proposal for another round of evaluation. Ten teams will be selected from there where mentors and coaches will be assigned each team to guide them in executing their business plans.
Many new businesses originate from youth
Patrick Tang, PLDT VP and Head of Home Marketing for Voice and Microbusiness, said there is no better time than now to encourage young Filipinos to use their ideas in helping alleviate poverty in the country.
“Majority of new businesses are made by the youth. By this time the important thing is not anymore about creating jobs or generating bigger income it’s about coming up with the entrepreneurial ideas for a larger cause - it’s entrepreneurship as a tool to help alleviate poverty,” he said.
Tang noted that 91 percent of businesses in the country are made up of micro-businesses that contribute 35 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Interested groups have until August 31 this year to submit their proposals. To download the contest’s official form and to know more about it, interested teams may visit the website www.projectpagsulong.ph.
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