Politics

Born and bred for business

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The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 has concluded its search for the country’s most undaunted and unstoppable entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc., with the participation of co-presenters the Asian Institute of Management, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. BusinessWorld will feature each finalist for the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 ahead of the awards ceremony on Nov. 21.

Aileen SuyOwner and Chief Operating OfficerAna’s Breeders Farms, Inc.

FOR Aileen Suy, owner and chief operating officer (COO) of Ana’s Breeders Farms, Inc. (ABFI), entrepreneurship had always been her dream.

Born to entrepreneur parents, Ms. Suy was exposed to the nuances of running a business from a very young age. She spent her summers behind cash counters, looking after her parents’ grocery store in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Ms. Suy studied to be a medical professional at the Davao Doctors College, hoping to raise enough capital for her own business someday. She considered education as a means to an end, a fallback if things went wrong. But going into business was always the end goal. Even as Ms. Suy was reviewing for her licensure examinations, she exercised her entrepreneurial skills by helping a friend manage an electrical and lighting store. It was something that came naturally to her and something that she genuinely enjoyed doing.

To this day, she channels her zest for business by being a hands-on leader, overseeing ABFI’s operations as its COO. When she and her husband Jonathan took over Ana’s Poultry Farm from her husband’s parents in 2004, it was primarily a contract breeder for large food producers. However, realizing that the contracts were unfavorable due to difficult terms and timelines, she and her husband decided to revamp the business as an independent broiler farm.

Ms. Suy spearheaded the setup of the corporate organizational structure to ensure that the company would continue to operate with the proper guidance of skilled professionals. She expanded the size of operations, eventually leading to ABFI becoming the only fully integrated poultry operation in Davao City — from its breeder farms, hatchery plant and broiler farms, all the way down to its dressing plant operation.

ABFI is now a billion-peso business producing around 12 million eggs and 8.5 million chicks annually. It also regularly meets food safety certifications which guarantee that its products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.

Ms. Suy always sees opportunities in times of crises. When faced with problems, she always finds solutions, many of which have led ABFI to branch out into new interrelated businesses. Its sister companies are all born from Ms. Suy’s innovative approaches to addressing challenges. With ABFI’s integrated and efficient operations, Ms. Suy ensures the company continues to add value to its products and operations. “Nothing is wasted,” she said.

ABFI leverages on Subzero for cold storage. The company uses excess meat to make processed food such as sausage, hotdog, tocino, longanisa, and chicken nuggets. Animal waste is also utilized efficiently. For example, feathers are converted into high-nutrition animal feeds, animal by-products are used to power a biogas plant, which in turn provides power and energy for the farms. The company also converts animal manure into organic fertilizer that is used for its dragon fruit farms.

Another highlight in Ms. Suy’s story is how she kept the company afloat even during times of financial distress. She avoided laying off employees who had been loyal to the company despite slow production due to farm capacity limitations, and again during the pandemic when sales dropped drastically due to economic conditions and problems with logistics. To continue operations during the pandemic, ABFI provided employees with food and lodging. While other companies were implementing layoffs, ABFI was hiring new workers. Despite the challenges and sometimes even while operating at a loss during the pandemic, Ms. Suy was able to sustain operations so that jobs were saved.

Now that the economy is reopening, ABFI has ramped up its operations and utilized its manpower to ensure efficiency. Ms. Suy said ABFI is always able to overcome challenges because of the very good team who embodies the company’s core values of adaptability, boldness, focus, and innovation.

On her vision for the future, Ms. Suy said that as a food provider, she wants to ensure that ABFI meets the growing demand for food in the country while also helping to create quality of life for Filipinos. She said the company continues to prioritize product distribution in wet markets and grocery stores where ABFI products can be easily accessed. Ms. Suy also plans to develop more food products and expand operations in the Visayas region. She noted the importance of price stability and adequate supply in the market to protect consumers from volatile prices and possible shortages.

Food security, Ms. Suy said, should be at the top of the government’s list of priorities to guarantee that Filipinos have appropriate food supply and access to fairly priced quality goods.

Ms. Suy believes in making a difference in the community. Aside from providing enough food supply, she also ensures the availability of jobs, provides sources of potable water in utility-scare areas, and participates in social projects, such as the annual Brigada Eskuwela programs where ABFI gives out bags with school supplies. She uses her abilities and resources as an entrepreneur to uplift people in the community and support their dreams, too.

Ms. Suy defines success not by the absence of failure, but by one’s ability to overcome challenges along the way. She believes that failures are simply challenges that build character and are key to one’s growth. Just because one fails, this does not mean that one should lose all hope, she said. Rather, one should use these experiences as stepping stones to fuel one’s passion in the journey to become the best version of oneself.

The media sponsors of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2022 are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Gold Sponsors are SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., Uratex, and Navegar. Silver Sponsors are Intellicare, OneWorld Alliance Logistics Corp., and Regan Industrial Sales, Inc. Banquet Co-presenter is PMFTC, Inc. Banquet Sponsors are Uratex, MerryMart Consumer Corp., Robert Blancaflor Group, Inc., International Container Terminal Services, Inc., Joy~Nostalg and Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 will be announced on Nov. 21 in an awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Manila. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2023. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young (EY).