Suspension of Disbelief

Success awaits those who dare break barriers

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 19 October 2013


Ben Chan, 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines

Ben Chan, 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines

Overcoming obstacles and turning them into opportunities won for businessman Ben Chan the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines award for 2013.

“The biggest challenge of my business turned out to be the most rewarding,” Chan chaired his experience relating how he rebuilt his business from the ashes of a shop razed by fire and renamed it BENCH/.

“You’ll find that the energy that you create from following your passion will take you through the ups and downs of running a business. And it will eventually be the substance that will drive your brand.” Chan stressed. “You need to be disciplined but be dedicated, and you will find fulfillment and success in your chosen endeavor.”

Chan was named Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines for embodying the entrepreneurial values of leadership, team building, innovation, financial performance and societal transformation.

The Entrepreneur of the Year program was founded and produced by Ernst & Young in 1986 in the United States. SGV Foundation, Inc. established it in 2003 in the Philippines.

This year’s theme is Breaking Barriers, to acknowledge how all the 12 finalists of the program over the last decade overcame the different challenges of entrepreneurship.

“Barriers may be considered deterrents or accelerants, depending on one’s perspective. But with our finalists, we saw how willpower and entrepreneurial zeal can turn obstacles into opportunities,” SGV Foundation, Inc. Chairman & President Cirilo P. Noel said.

“If you love what you’re doing you can overcome everything, you can achieve anything. It doesn’t matter how many struggles you’re going to face along the way; just follow your passion and never be afraid to fall down,” Ben Chan, chairman of the board of Suyen Corporation, said.

Chan, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2013, always had the passion for design and aesthetics, thus, he believes that creativity and passion for your own business are the only things entrepreneurs should do for them to be successful.

He was also won the Master Entrepreneur Award, a category award given to the entrepreneur who best exemplifies sound management practices in critical areas of the company, including finance, marketing, human resources and sales.

“Creativity is the essence of my business and this motivates me. My inspiration is the success of other retailers. What they can do, we can do, and today’s global retail industry makes that possible,” he said. “I am inspired that a Filipino brand like Bench can hold its own among the best retailers in the world.”

During the mid-80s, Chan explored the world of fashion, he started a line of children’s clothes which was retailed in a local department store, but that didn’t last long. They lost the shop when the department store caught fire.

Rebuilt as BENCH/, the brand became a household name over the years, starting as a men’s T-shirt expanding to include jeans, undergarments, accessories, cosmetics, body care products, and even snacks. BENCH/ is present in China and the Middle East. Chan is exploring more overseas expansion.

2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines finalists

2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines finalists

This year’s Young Entrepreneur Award was given to Juliet D. Herrera, president and general manager of Serenitea Cha Kitchen, Inc. Herrera was chosen as she possesses the potential to be an inspiration and a model of entrepreneurship to the youth. Herrera plans to expand Serenitea, to expand the number of franchises and reach more areas outside Metro Manila.

The Small Business Entrepreneur Award was given to Leonarda O. Capuyan, president of Narda’s Handwoven Arts and Crafts, Inc. and Narda’s Trading Corporation. She demonstrated management excellence in a business with assets of less than 100 million pesos, and was also responsible for the long-term growth of the company. Today, Narda’s woven handicrafts are being marketed locally and internationally; Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

Dr. Milagros O. How, executive vice president of Universal Harvester, Inc. bagged the Woman Entrepreneur Award. How’s excelled in entrepreneurship, leadership and community development, which made her a trailblazer in a male-dominated industry. Universal Harvester, Ic. Claims to have helped 2,312,000 farmers through 932 farmers’ cooperatives, federations and associations in 68 provinces nationwide.

The other finalists were: Santiago G. Araneta, chairman and CEO of LBC Express Inc.; Alexander L. Bangsoy, president and CEO of Goshen Land Capital, Inc.; Maria Lorena Simeon-Florendo, founder and CEO of LiFEDATA Systems, Inc.; Alberto D. Lina, chairman of Airfreight 2100, Inc.; Cesar Mario O. Mamon, president and chairman of the board, Enchanted Kingdom, Inc.; Manuel H. Osmena, group chairman, Manny O. Group; Dr. Victor V. Perez, president of University of Cagayan Valley; and Rajan A. Uttamchandani, chairman and CEO of Esquire Financing, Inc.

Past winners of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines were: Tony Tan Caktiong, president and CEO of Jollibee Foods Corporation, Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2003 & World Entrepreneur of the Year 2004; Socorro Cancio-Ramos, founder of National Bookstore, Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2004; Lance Y. Gokongwei, president and CEO of Cebu Air, Inc., Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2005; Senen C. Bacani, chairman and president of La Frutera, Inc., Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2006; Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr., president and CEO of Alaska Milk Corporation, Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2007; Ambassador Jesus P. Tambunting, chairman and president of Planters Development Bank, Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2009; Tennyson G. Chen, president of Bounty Fresh Food Inc., Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2010; Erramon I. Aboitiz, president and CEO of AboitizPower Corp., Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2011; and Jaime I. Ayala, president and CEO of Hybrid Solutions, Inc., Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2012.


(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


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