As this year’s batch of college graduates enters an economy where the unemployment rate is high, Senator Cynthia Villar is offering them an alternative: become entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship is the key to economic freedom of young and old people alike,” Villar said on Thursday, April 10, addressing the 944 graduates of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela.
“You should not aspire to merely [land] a good job when you graduate. You can be an employer or a creator of jobs,” Villar said.
In February, the polling firm Social Weather Station reported that 12.1 million Filipinos were unemployed during the last quarter of 2013. This is 27.5 per cent of the 44 million-strong workforce in the country and 9.6 million higher than the 21.7 per cent during the previous quarter.
Villar, whose family owns the real estate giant Vista Land, told graduates not to be fazed by the idea of coming up with capital.
“Capital is not the end-all and be-all of entrepreneurship,” Villar said.
Aspiring entrepreneurs can always borrow money from banks, or start small with their own savings – like what she and her husband, former Senator Manny Villar, did when they started a gravel and sand business in 1975.
“Nang magresign si Manny noong 1975 sa kanyang trabaho, at kami ay nagpakasal, meron po kaming ipon na sampung libong piso. Umutang po siya sa bangko ng [PhP 70,000] and with our [PhP 10,000] savings, bumili kami ng dalawang truck na ginamit namin sa pagdedeliver ng graba at buhangin sa mga nagtatayo po ng bahay sa Las Pinas (When Manny resigned in 1975 from his job and we married, we had a savings of Ph 10, 000. He borrowed Php 70,000 from the bank and with our PhP 10,000-savings, we bought two trucks which we used to deliver gravel and sand to those building houses in Las Piñas),” Villar said.
The gravel and sand business eventually became the housing company Camella Homes, which is now a subsidiary of Vista Land.
More important than capital is skill and knowledge, Villar said.
“There are others out there who did not even graduate [from college] but became very successful business people,” she said. Chances of success is even higher among the highly educated, Villar added.
“That is what entrepreneurship is all about. It empowers you and others at the same time. It creates limitless opportunities for everyone to succeed in life,” Villar said.
The graduates this year came from the following degree programs: master’ degree programs in education and governance; bachelors of science degree programs in civil engineering, electrical engineering, information technology, accountancy, accounting technology, business administration and public administration; bachelor of arts degree program in communication studies; bachelor of elementary education, bachelor of secondary education, and certificate in teaching program.
Secondary education graduate Mary Grace Ofamin, cum laude, delivered the valedictory address.
Meanwhile, City Mayor REX Gatchalian said the city government is aiming to increase the combined student population of the PLV and the Valenzuela Polytechnic College, another city-run institution, from the current 6,000 to 10,000 in two years, and build additional buildings in both schools to accommodate the growing number of students.