b2Bpreneur aims to develop future entrepreneurs

Community News & Features Jun 14, 2019 at 2:38 pm
b2Bpreneur’s new board of directors: Pearl Rabano, chief fi nancial officer; B Laserna, chief marketing and information officer; Noreen  Ocampo, chief project officer; Rachel Muhlberger, chief operating  officer; and Janet Lim, founder and CEO.

b2Bpreneur’s new board of directors: Pearl Rabano, chief financial officer; B Laserna, chief marketing and information officer; Noreen Ocampo, chief project officer; Rachel Muhlberger, chief operating officer; and Janet Lim, founder and CEO. (Photos: Raymond Santos)

Kids learn how to make and sell products at annual business fair

By Bruce Gates

Small companies make up nearly 98% of all Canadian businesses, and half of those employ fewer than four people, according to the Business Development Bank of Canada. Filipino enterprises represent a very small fraction of that total, but if Janet Lim is successful, that number will grow significantly with the next generation.

That was one of the main reasons b2Bpreneur Inc. was founded last year. “Our goal is to build the next generation of empowered entrepreneurs with a heart,” she said. One way her group is doing that will be on display July 13 at the second annual Bata to Batapreneur children’s business fair in Toronto. The fair provides a showcase for budding young Filipino-Canadian entrepreneurs, who develop their own wares for sale to the public. At the free event, they also have access to motivational guest speakers as well as entertainment, games and refreshments.

Marcus Uy selling organic alkaline lemonade, LIMON, at last year’s fair won Batapreneur  Business of the Year.

Marcus Uy selling organic alkaline lemonade, LIMON, at last year’s fair won Batapreneur Business of the Year.

Last year’s event drew 50 participants, “and this year we expect a similar turnout,” Ms. Lim said. She added that while the program’s main target is young people from the Filipino community between the ages of 8 and 18, it is open to anyone whose child is interested in developing business skills.

“Entrepreneurship is a critical skill that must be nurtured at a young age in order for children to thrive in the real world,” said Ms. Lim, who came up with the idea for Bata to Batapreneur nearly five years ago while looking for development programs for her son, Marcus, that would provide him with “skills that are transferrable to the real world.”

She eventually approached Philippine Chamber of Commerce Toronto president Steve Pagao, who supported the idea and pushed the project forward. b2Bpreneur, Inc. was subsequently incorporated with then co-founder, Christine Santos, who has since moved on to pursue other projects.

“They became the earliest supporters of Bata to Batapreneur,” Ms. Lim said.

Zariah and Gavin De Villa selling unique Filipino greeting cards and fridge magnets based on the Philippines flag.

Zariah and Gavin De Villa selling unique Filipino greeting cards and fridge magnets based on the Philippines flag.

However, “just teaching young people about financial responsibility is not enough,” said Ms. Lim, who comes from her own entrepreneurial background: She once worked as a travel counsellor while expanding her family’s real estate business in Toronto. She’s now a licensed Pre-Planner helping people cope with bereavement, while running a start-up food business.

Free b2Bpreneur programs introduce young people to the fundamentals of entrepreneurship through workshops and seminars. Later on, they are paired with mentors who give them a clear view of how business works. This is followed by leadership training and pairing senior batapreneurs with junior members. The final stage comes when the students feel confident enough to pursue their own businesses and in turn give back to their community.

“The goal is to provide these young people with the resources they need in order to be financially self-sufficient, by showing them there is an option to become entrepreneurs,” Ms. Lim said. “Filipinos are talented and hard-working and will be excellent business people.”

JM Montojo selling his self-published fiction book titled Supernovas.

JM Montojo selling his self-published fiction book titled Supernovas.

The not-for-profit organization receives support from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce-Toronto and the Philippine Consulate General Toronto, among others, and recently announced its new board of directors: Rachel Muhlberger, chief operating officer; Pearl Rabano, chief financial officer; Noreen Ocampo, chief project officer; B Laserna, chief marketing and information officer; and Janet Lim, founder and chief executive officer.

Ms. Lim says she hopes to launch similar business fairs in Winnipeg and Alberta, as well as Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., in the United States.
This year’s business fair will be held at Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church, 515 Broadview Ave. in Toronto’s east end.

Ms. Lim said parents seeking more information about b2Bpreneur and future events can consult its website at www.bata2batapreneur.com, send an email to b2Bpreneur@gmail.com or call 416-732-4822.

Isabella Cortes selling mental health kits for kids, The Feel Good Tool Kit, won Most Promising Business of the Year.

Isabella Cortes selling mental health kits for kids, The Feel Good Tool Kit, won Most Promising Business of the Year.