Editor's note: The Business Mentor is a weekly business column by Armando "Butz" Bartolome, president of GMB Franchise Developers Inc. and chairman of the Association of Filipino Franchisers Inc.
MANILA, Philippines - In a world were teens are deprived of college education, two ladies decided to give them the opportunity to excel by outing up a business that would give them the opportunity to uplift their personal growth.
Twenty years ago, Jolly De La Pena and Cynthia Simolde dedicated their lives to make the world a better place for the underprivileged.
Jolly De La Pena and Cynthia Simolde are the women behind brands such as Ang Gara, Khush and JellyG.
Now, through their business, they train, guide and support out of school youths, housewives and corn farmers of Tarlac. Their business made them feel satisfied knowing that in their own simple ways they can influence people to be better, God-fearing and hopeful.
As the world celebrates March as Women’s Month, it is fitting to give recognition to people like them who are trying to contribute in their small way.
The Business Mentor (BM) recently did an interview with De La Pena.
BM: How did you enter into business? Is there an influence from your family? Did you get into business immediately after your studies? Or did you have an attempt at working as an employee?
Jolly: I graduated in 1988 at De La Salle University (DLSU), with a course on BS Accounting. After college, I worked at as an auditor at SGV for 2 years and 2 years as Chief Accountant at Megaworld Properties. During my stay at SGV, I started a small business, belt manufacturing. We sold the belts to friends and some small-scaled retail stores. The scrap materials from the belts were made into hair accessories. I realized that there was a very good opportunity to venture more on accessories, thus, I started supplying them to different department stores, and eventually became a concessionaire.
There was no influence from the family to do business. At first, supplying was just a “part-time” thing to do but when my mom retired from work, I did not want her to be idle and bored. These made me decide to resign from work and concentrate in expanding the business.
Wives of corn farmers in Tarlac help augment their meager income by making crochet products for Khush.
BM: You have a business partner, what made you decide to get into a partnership? What considerations did you have to look into?
Jolly: While still working at SGV, I needed someone to do the operations of the business – purchasing, delivery and monitoring our area as concessionaire. Cynthia was a friend from church. Since she was still studying, she had more free time and she offered to do the operations of the business.
I had to consider the values, skills and passion she had. Our foundation of friendship was a strong factor in considering her to be my business partner. Each of our skills complemented each other. I am creative, talkative, aggressive and strong. Cynthia is observant, orderly, good listener and patient. Our field of expertise are both necessary in the business. I am an accountant and she is an engineer. Our differences helped us a lot in letting the business grow.
BM: What challenges did you encounter in the early stages of the business?
Jolly: Since we were both new in the business “world”, all we thought of was expanding the stores. We did not have a hard time in expanding. The struggle was on how we can maintain the status of each store. Manpower was a difficult area because we had to depend on ourselves to manage and operate numerous stores.
Handling of people was also difficult. We treated our employees as family, constantly guiding and teaching them to be better. We even call our employees “angels”. But since they have their own needs and wants, it was difficult to instill in them the good values we want to relay. It was also a challenge to make them understand the value of work.
BM: What solutions did you have to make the business sustainable?
Jolly: Continuous learning and improvement were necessary to be able to make the business sustainable. We need to have consistent product innovations, thorough staff training and formations, detachment from non-profiting stores, optimism and burning passion.
Our spiritual formation was also a big factor – knowing that things will be better despite unfavorable situations and circumstances.
Having mentors, coaches and consultants helped a lot for us to have a wider view on the status of the business. These people made us look at things differently and gave us the wisdom to decide on major factors for the business.
BM: I noticed your businesses are intertwined with social aspect. Can you tell me more about this and why you began to add the social dimension?
Jolly: From the start, the mission was to help.
- Business - Help my mom do something after retiring
- Company – to give high school graduates employment and a chance to be store supervisors
- Ang Gara – to help housewives and out of school youths have something to do, make accessories
- Khush – to give additional livelihood to the corn farmers of Tarlac City and to give them the chance and opportunity to showcase their craft in crocheting.
- JellyG – to help others have an alternative choice in their drinking habits and to make them feel the “Thai Experience”.
BM: Can you provide your tips for entrepreneurs starting a business with partners? What to look for and how to manage the relationship?
Jolly: Partners should have:
- A common spiritual faith
- Must have different course or expertise to allow more interactive opinions and ideas
- Must work toward a common goal
- Good communication - Must have weekly meetings plans
- Must have proper and detailed work delegation
- Both should be properly compensated
BM: How about tips for women entrepreneurs in sustaining the business?
Jolly: They say women are fickle minded and indecisive, but these qualities can be regarded as being creative and innovative.
Women tend to be emotional but these emotions are necessary to ignite the passion and the desires to make anything better.
Women are detailed and thorough, making the business organized and grows toward the desired goals.
Women posses a stronger faith in God and usually does almost everything that would please Him. Their strong spiritually makes them wiser and firmer in making the right decisions for the business. Women tend to do things out of love and not out of necessity.
For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: [email protected] His website is www.gmb.com.ph