This coming Sept. 6, we shall name the latest winners of the ASEAN Business Awards 2017. The ASEAN Business Awards is a regional search for exceptional enterprises which have contributed to the economic and socio-cultural development of the region. These enterprises have grown not just in their home countries, but have also conquered and made their mark in other ASEAN countries. Hopefully soon, these companies will reach global markets and we can all proudly say they are all ASEAN-grown.
But prior to the announcement of the winners, we had a deliberation of the Philippine finalists to the ASEAN Business Awards. Let me tell you, this is one of the exciting parts of an awards search. We received more than 200 applications from all countries and each country has to deliberate on who will represent their country in the award categories.
The Philippines had its own deliberation with Sen. Bam Aquino, Johnlu Koa and Jose Magsaysay Jr. as judges. Over 100 Filipino companies applied for the ABA 2017. After some grueling discussion, the judges identified 20 companies who will vie for regional awards.
Nature’s Legacy Eximport Inc. is one of the Philippine finalists to the ASEAN Business Awards. The business led by Pedro and Catherine Delantar proudly manufactures high-end home and hotel furniture made from sustainable materials since 1997. Nature’s Legacy Eximport is a finalist to the wood-based and innovation categories.
One of the San Miguel Pure Foods Co.’s subsidiaries, San Miguel Foods also made it as a finalist in the agri-food category. San Miguel Foods is engaged in agro-industrial manufacturing, producing commercial feeds, poultry, pork and beef. Over the years, the company has built a network of third-party owned and operated facilities such as feed mills, farms, processing plants and other infrastructure nationwide.
Another finalist in the agri-food category is the Destileria Limtuaco & Co. which is headed by Olivia Limpe-Aw. The company produces quality wines and liquors crafted using Philippines’ fruits. The company has rationalized the product portfolio from mass market to a niche mid-range market in the country and across ASEAN.
I’m sure we all know Bernie Liu of the Golden ABC, one of the leading retail companies in the country. His company is a Philippine finalist in the retail category. Golden ABC is a multi-awarded fashion enterprise which carries several brands including Penshoppe, Oxygen, Forme, Memo, Regatta, Tyler, and Red Logo. Started with an initial capital of P5,000, the company became an ASEAN brand well loved in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
One of the leading photography brand in the country, Great Image, will also be a finalist to the ASEAN Business Awards under the retail category. Founded in 1983 by Robert and Evelyn Palomo, the company is the leading photography brand for the last three decades. It has provided professional, reliable and creative photography services to most Filipinos. Evelyn Palomo is also a finalist to the women entrepreneur category.
Gandang Kalikasan Inc., which was founded by sisters Anna Meloto-Wilk and Camille Meloto, also made it as a finalist in the healthcare category. The brand is known for producing natural, eco-friendly, green wellness and cosmetic products. It is one of the recognized inclusive businesses in the country which has tapped poor farmers and low-income communities.
Connecting markets across the ASEAN region is important that is why logistics is one of the priority industry sector in the ASEAN. Asian Marine Transport Corp. is the country’s representative in this category. Asian Marine Transport Corp. started its small operations in 1999, penetrating countryside ports. Just recently, it is the first logistics company to heed to the call of the government to connect the ASEAN region through the opening of the Davao-Bitung route.
Mont Albo Wellness Corp. is one of the finalists for the growth category. Since 2007, the company specializes in Filipino traditional massage and home therapy. Nol Montalbo started the business with only P1,500 but is now employing 500 masseuse and therapists, thus providing livelihood opportunities to many Filipinos.
Another Philippine contender in the growth category is Human Resource Innovations and Solutions which provides human resource solutions to businesses. HURIS began in 2005 with the firm mission of delivering quality services to its clients.
One of the two corporate social responsibility category finalists, Lamoiyan Corp. provides employment to the deaf community. Its CSR framework is based on the principles of human dignity and promoting self-worth anchored on the company values of building integrity and cultivating respect. The company started in 1987 and is the first Filipino toothpaste brand launched in the market.
Lamoiyan Corp.’s co-finalist is the NCST Institute of Industrial Research and Training. The company provides quality education and industrial capacity building. Through its program Study Now, Pay Later, Zero Cash Out Scheme, economically-challenged students are given access to quality and relevant industry-based training. From an initial 10 trainees, more than 30,000 students have benefited from this CSR program.
Fruitas Group Inc., is a finalist to not just one category but two. The company is competing for the award on either innovation or employment. Fruitas Group was founded in 2002 by Lester Yu and has provided the local market with affordable fresh fruit beverages. Since its establishment, the brand has grown to include other concepts such as Buko Loco, Black Pearl, Friends Fries, and many more.
Another contender in the employment category is the Titan Barong of Lumban which is a quality producer and retailer of barong tagalog. A few years ago, the company was only selling hundreds of their special barong tagalog, but today, they are now producing and selling an average of 100,000 pieces per year. The company has hired and provided employment to 178 employees in total.
Young entrepreneur Dennis Uy founded the UDENNA Corp. in 2002 which established a single independent filling station in the retail fuel industry. Under UDENNA are its two subsidiaries Phoenix Petroleum Philippines and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. Phoenix Petroleum is the 3rd biggest oil company, while Chelsea Logistics is now a dominant player in the shipping industry.
Contending against Dennis Uy is Richard Sanz of FoodAsia Group. The company is involved in various businesses such as restaurant and bakery operations, food retail, food manufacturing, franchising and real estate. From one employee, the company now has more than 500 employees.
Another female entrepreneur finalist is Nannette Medved-Po who leads the Friends of Hope, a business of purified bottled water established in 2012. The company’s program Hope in a Bottle donated 100 percent of its profits to the building of public school classrooms. Their brand empowers Filipinos to participate in building schools by buying their water bottles.
These are just some of the Philippine brands that will compete in the ASEAN Business Awards. While some are competing for two categories, a company cannot win in both. Watch out for the 2017 ASEAN Business awardees!