New PFA president sets 5-point mega plan

Jennylei Caberte (The Philippine Star) – July 9, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) has set in motion a grand plan to help transform the country from a labor exporter to an economy that not only has enough employment opportunities for its citizens, but also would require foreign talents to fill up job vacancies.

Richard V. Sanz, PFA’s newly elected president, has laid out a five-point agenda which he  recently presented to the association’s members to boost the performance of the country’s franchising brands in the fastest-growing regions in the world.

The plan includes innovative initiatives toward national inclusive growth through job creation, further strengthening the competitiveness of Filipino brands, establishment and firming up of Filipino brands in overseas markets, enhanced  capability of micro, small and medium enterprises; and preparedness for full development of e-commerce.

Sanz wants the country’s  franchising industry to be an active player in the public-private efforts to achieve economic inclusivity, specifically by producing jobs for millions of Filipinos through entrepreneurship.

“I envision that one day, all Filipinos will be entrepreneurs and we will have to hire from other countries to fill up job vacancies. When that day comes, we will truly be a prosperous and developed nation,” Sanz said.

The CEO of FoodAsia Group and the founder of popular brands Bibingkinitan!, Lava Cheese Tarts, Papas Potato Chips, The BBQ Shack, Sanz aims to make Philippine brands stronger in the global market. “We also want to develop stronger presence for Philippine brands, not only in the ASEAN region, but also in the Asia Pacific area,” he said.

The 2017 World Franchise Council Comparison Data Survey report on franchise brands per country, indicates that the Philippines has about 1,500 brands, surpassing Japan (1,329), Russia (1,300) and Spain (1,232). South Korea has the biggest number of franchise brands with 4,844 followed by India (3,992) and USA (3,472).

Sanz also wants Philippine franchise brands to develop a global presence in other areas, such as Asia, North America, and Middle East where millions of Filipinos work, making them a rich market for Philippine products. He likewise noted the need for the country to step up and build more global franchise brands.

The US has the biggest number of international brands at 1,000, followed by South Korea, Japan and the European Union. At present, the Philippines has only about 50 plus brands operating in foreign soil. “The figures show we were still far away from becoming a major player in the global arena,” he said.

Sanz stressed it is logical for the PFA to give strong emphasis on Asia Pacific region since the country is strategically located in the area.

Philippine brands are world-class

Even before he assumed the reins of the PFA, Sanz already believed that Philippine brands are world-class, and can be at par with their global counterparts. “Given the right strategy, support and aggressive initiative, I think it is just a matter of time before we penetrate the international market,” he said.

The PFA president noted that the strategy of most local companies of focusing first in the local market also seems to have affected their competitive edge, and proved costly in the long run, or once they decide to expand their markets beyond the Philippines.

Sanz, however, recognizes that going global and developing the Filipino brand is easier said than done.

Hard work and perseverance 

Sanz said he learned and developed his penchant for hard work and perseverance from his mother Betty who single-handedly raised him and his brother Billy. A Bachelor of Science in Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate of De La Salle University – Manila, Rich as he’s fondly called by close friends, candidly shares that he was not born with a silver spoon. He recalls the many nights when he saw his mother finishing one sewing project after another using their old sewing machine, to support them.

There are several options on how Filipino brands can penetrate the global market, Sanz points out, and one way is to sell hamburgers, pizza and French fries, like what Jollibee, Yellow Cab and Potato Corner are doing.

To further add a quaint flavor to his food enterprise ventures, Sanz has pushed for the development of a local variety of Filipino kakanin, or snack food, the favorite bibingka rice cake which is now popularly known as “Bibingkinitan!” which name is partly derived from its slim dimension. With his entrepreneurial innovativeness, Bibingkinitan!, with over 200 branches nationwide has become a favorite snack food fare at all times, particularly during Christmas midnight mass in December. He was able to promote and market the famous snack in a fun and creative way.

Sanz and the PFA now also strives to further enhance the capabilities of the country’s micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, hoping that somebody from the group will emerge as the next Mang Inasal or Potato Corner.

“Bibingkinitan! started with a capitalization of P100,000. Coming from the MSME sector, I am quite aware of the situation there and we want MSMEs to grow,” he said.

Proper incubation is one of the keys to help MSMEs grow, and PFA and Sanz are serious in implementing the programs to transform businesses into development catalysts. “It is important to help MSMEs because they have a strong multiplier effect,” Sanz stressed.

The PFA has also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry and its commercial attaches and Export Marketing Bureau in conducting outbound missions and business-matching activities to entice more people to go into business via the franchising route.

Just like other regular business ventures, franchising requires dedication, perseverance and knowledge to succeed in the Philippines, the ASEAN and the global market, he pointed out.

It is also important, Sanz added, to empower the MSMEs by equipping them with digital skills and capabilities. Since the digital technology is rapidly changing the retail landscape in the country, the PFA aims to make MSME entrepreneurs aware of the benefits of e-commerce.

Sanz believes e-commerce usage will not fully develop in the country within the next five to 10 years because Filipinos still generally prefer traditional shopping, but PFA now urges the government to prepare for the digitization of retail.

PFA also established formal alliances with PLDT, BPI, Microsoft, and Google to help franchisers enhance their skills. “PLDT and BPI have been great partners by providing MSMEs with solutions, such as fintech, enterprise resource planning (ERP), cloud-based solutions and mobility solutions. Digital and e-commerce should be adopted. If change happens, we want to be ahead,” Sanz said.

Sanz also cited the need to strengthen the PFA’s advocacy programs for the franchising sector. As of 2015, franchising had contributed revenues worth $15 billion, or five to six percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). “Compared to the global average of 2.3 percent, our franchising sector is robust and very much alive,” he said.

“We’re strong in the Philippines. It is time to go out of the country, I feel the Filipino brands, particularly those in the food sector, are underestimated,” Sanz said.

The voice of franchisers 

Being the voice of the franchising industry since 1995, the PFA – under Sanz’s leadership – will continue the great work done by its past administrations, spearheaded by his mentors PFA chairman emeritus and the universally-acknowledged “Father of Philippine Franchising” Samie Lim and PFA vice chair Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco, who’s also the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “As the new president, my duty and responsibility focus on serving the association with dedication and bring it to greater heights,” Sanz assured.

*This article is copied and originally  published by the Philippine Star on July 9, 2018 and is also available online at  https://www.philstar.com/business/business-as-usual/2018/07/09/1831717/new-pfa-president-sets-5-point-mega-plan#MBwSJFX5rYEgMHhM.99

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