Page last updated at 03:22 Asia/Manila, Friday, 09 May 2014 PH
Exactly twenty five years ago, the CRC College of Arts and Sciences (precursor of the University of Asia and the Pacific) launched a completely innovative educational offering called the Entrepreneurial Management (EM) Program. Seventeen-year-old male high school graduates, some of whom were not exactly in love with academics, were admitted into a curriculum of studies whose objective was to orient them from day one of their college studies towards starting a small business of their own rather than applying for a corporate job after graduation. The first two years addressed their handicaps in quantitative analysis and reading ability. Their highly creative mind and risk taking propensities made up for their academic deficiencies. These strengths made it possible for them to actually start new business ventures as early as in their second year under the close supervision of very experienced executives and entrepreneurs. They were told that they would not be able to graduate if in their last year of college they could not show some profit, no matter how small, in the entrepreneurial ventures they started in their second year.
This academic experiment has paid off handsomely in the last quarter of a century. The EM Program has produced a good number of very successful small business enterprises in very diverse industries, such as high value vegetable farming, meat and fish distribution, water purification, garments manufacturing, digital marketing, microfinance, fashion goods, early learning centers, etc. A few of them have grown to medium-scale companies with sales of P50 million or above. A little less than a decade ago, the program was open to female participants upon the insistence of the parents who also wanted their daughters to benefit from the same curriculum, even if female adolescents do not usually suffer from the typical handicaps that future Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have in concentrating on purely academic studies. Those running the Program have not regretted this decision to make the EM Program co-educational.
The next twenty five years of the EM Program will coincide with the reappearance of the Philippine economy as one of the most progressive in the Asia Pacific region, recapturing its former glory in the decade or so after the Second World War, when it was the most developed economy in Asia, next only to Japan. In its role as the new Asian Tiger, the Philippines will need to spawn thousands of small and medium-scale enterprises in order to make sure that growth rates of 7 to 9 percent of GDP annually will actually generate more employment and redistribute income and wealth. The role of small and medium-scale enterprise in what is known as inclusive growth is unquestionable. It is the vision of those running the EM Program of the University of Asia and the Pacific to significantly increase the number of the so-called millennials, the yuppies of today, who will opt to start businesses of their own rather than work for large corporations. The sectors in which these yuppie entrepreneurs will flourish will be even more diverse: BPO/KPO, logistics, medical tourism, retirement homes, health services, car parts manufacturing, etc. Providentially, there will be many more top executives reaching retirement age who will continue to be active in mentoring these yuppies until they reach the ripe old age of 80 or even 90 (I intend to mentor them till I reach 100, God willing since my mother passed away at the age of 102).
I am glad that the YE Magazine being published by some professors and students of UA&P will chronicle the stories of both the yuppies and their mentors. The Magazine will be a source of inspiration to other educational institutions and corporate bodies to start their own equivalent programs to develop entrepreneurs among the youth, of which we have millions thanks to the absence of the contraceptive mentality among most of our parents. CRC was lone in 1989 in the field of entrepreneurial management education. Today, there are dozens of imitators. This is one time we are very happy to be imitated because imitation is one of the greatest manifestations of flattery. Let a thousand flowers bloom in the field of entrepreneurial education, which should include the nurturing of farm entrepreneurs among our traditional farmers, as Meralco Foundation is already doing. May many high schools take advantage of the transition to the K to 12 curriculum in converting the last two years of senior high school as a preparation for those possessing the necessary qualities of creativity and risk taking ability to take courses in entrepreneurial management. For comments, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.