Sunday, January 16, 2011
WANTED: MORE FIL-AM ENTREPRENEURS
An official of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) urged Filipino-American business owners to get certified as a minority business enterprise (MBE).
Antonio Cabanas, who supervises the Maryland MBE, spoke about the process of being certified by the MDOT at a talk organized by the Filipino-American Institute of Accountants of Metro DC (FAIA) and Philippine American Bar Association (PABA) at the Acacia Federal Savings Bank in Falls Church, VA on Jan. 14.
Of the nearly 23 million privately-owned companies operating in the US in 2002, over 1.1 million were owned by Asian-Americans, generating $327 billion in income.
Of these companies, 17% had 5-9 employees; 50% had 1-4 employees; and 17% had 5-9 employees – clearly, most of them were not only minority owned but also small-scale.
Patrick Ferraren said 3 million small and minority businesses in the US employ about 5 million Americans.
Cabanas revealed that of the 5,128 MBEs certified in Maryland last year, 262 were owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – and of this number, less than 30 were owned by Filipino-Americans.
John Cabrera, president of the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Washington DC, said he wasn’t surprised by the relatively low number of Fil-Am certified firms.
To be eligible for an MBE certification, the business should be at least 51% owned and controlled by the socially and economically disadvantaged – African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and women.
The MDOT’s Office of MBE is the certification agency for Maryland (in Virginia, it’s the Virginia Dept. of Transportation and in DC, it’s the Office of the Minority Business Enterprise).
Certification as an MBE (or its twin program, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program) opens new and wider business opportunities for the certified firm.
In Maryland, state agencies are required to source at least 25% of their procurement contracts from MBE firms.
Cabrera was among the Fil-Am businessmen who attended the FAIA-PABA seminar.
“The important reason for my insurance company to be certified is to get mote opportunities for government contracts,” he said.
He explained that government contracts “are more stable, more long term that will give our company growth”.
Cabrera declared that as head of the Fil-Am business chamber in Metro DC, he encourages more Fil-Ams, especially those who may have lost their jobs due to the recession, to start their own business.
“Filipinos by nature and by our culture are not entrepreneurs. More are professionals and so when they move here a lot of them are not thinking about going into business,” he averred.
“We were raised to go to school, get a good education, get a good job, work for a good company then retire,” Cabrera added.
That affords a greater measure of security especially for newly arrived immigrants but he said owning your own business has its rewards.
“Part of it is different when you’re your own boss. The more you work, the more you earn; you have control on who you want to help and how you grow your business,” he declared.