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November 2021

“Soaring Together”: SME survivors share takeaways from Ayala Enterprise Circle

Ayala Enterprise Circle celebrated its first anniversary on Friday. SME members Joey Tiempo and Diego Buenaflor shared with Ayala Corporation Chairman how the AEC community helped them survive the pandemic.

MANILA — More than a year into the pandemic, award-winning creative Joey David Tiempo has yet to sit behind her new desk at the newly acquired headquarters of Octopus & Whale, a company she founded a month before a nation-wide lockdown was imposed last March.

“We bought an office. We bought new furniture. I never even sat on the chair we bought,” she said in jest.

When the pandemic hit, Tiempo said most of their clients had decided to cancel some projects and cut their budgets to funnel in funds to support their employees. “I thought instead of being a start-up, we would be an end-up,” she said. 

“But as with everything that comes your way, you turn it into an opportunity. When our clients started changing their plans, we thought why don’t we turn that around?” she said.

And they did. They helped their clients adapt to uncertainties, which is now what sets them apart from other creative agencies. Octopus & Whale has turned itself into an independent strategy and creative solutions company that services renowned brands like Belo, Bonchon, and Nestle Philippines. 

A member of Ayala Enterprise Circle, the newbie entrepreneur said her team learned business hacks from the webinars hosted by AEC, where seasoned business leaders and entrepreneurs are invited to speak.

Diego Buenaflor, the CEO of Ellana Cosmetics, is also one happy AEC member. His company sells clean, vegan, and cruelty-free products on several digital platforms and 60 stores across the country, the first being in Ayala Malls Trinoma in Quezon City.

“That location in Trinoma contributed a large amount of our revenue pre-pandemic,” he said.  “Even during the pandemic, they’ve been very supportive and understanding of the situation.”

As of October 31, 2021, Ayala Land has condoned rent amounting to P12.99 billion. During the first months of the pandemic, Globe and BPI also extended the grace periods of loan payments of SME clients.  

According to Buenaflor, his AEC membership enabled him to get a collateral-free loan from BPI, which he used to recalibrate his business and adapt to the new normal.

At AEC’s 1st Anniversary Celebration held Friday, Ayala Corporation Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala lauded the stories of Tiempo and Buenaflor, who both adapted their businesses with agility. 

Zobel, who is the mind behind AEC, also highlighted the importance of having a platform of cooperation among businesses, which is what AEC offers.      

“In times like this, I think cooperation and help are much needed words that have to become part of our vocabulary. All of us have to come out of this well, and our whole world, the system we live in, we needed to succeed. And that now involves us holding hands a bit more, cooperating a bit more, not seeing each other as competitors but as allies and friends,” Zobel said. 

“We’re all in this together. We all have to come out of this together. And it’s a good time for all of us to work together,” he added.  

In his keynote address, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez also lauded MSMEs, which comprise 99% of the Philippine economy, for persisting and working together amid headwinds.

“Now that we are well on our way to a new year, and as the economy begins to recover, DTI strengthens its commitment to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises—in partnership with the Ayala Group of Companies’ pledge of upskilling, connecting, and enabling them to soar higher in many years to come,” he said.

And as Tiempo aptly put in her anecdote, AEC has been the perfect platform for budding entrepreneurs to upskill, connect, and enable one another. 

“We’re kind of like a tiny boat in the big sea. In the big sea, you don’t know what’s out there. It’s nice to see other ships along your journey sailing with you. I think as part of AEC community, we can all reach out to one another and learn from one another. That means a lot for a small entrepreneur like me,” she said.

AEC is an exclusive membership program for SME customers and partners of Ayala Group. It offers programs and benefits to help enterprises develop new skills of their employees, forge strong connections within this diverse network of fellow-members and partners, and, ultimately, provide a solid platform for businesses to scale and prosper. 

Visit http://ayalaenterprisecircle.com/ for details on how to become an AEC member.

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For more information:

YLA ALCANTARA
Head, Brand and Reputation Management
Ayala Corporation
e-mail – alcantara.ypg@ayala.com