The first Philippine Small and Medium Enterprises Business (PhilSME) Expo put the spotlight on three successful and empowered women entrepreneurs – Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Noreen Bautista of Jacinto & Lirio, and Charlene Tan of Good Food Community who all started in the local arena and have well deservingly succeeded in penetrating the global scene.

Fernandez-Ruiz, Bautista and Tan each shared their stories of building sustainable communities among the sparsely-distributed needs within the archipelago, from farmers and poor Payatas communities, to local nanays and tatays within the underprivileged minorities in the cities.

Rags2Riches, as shared by its Rolex Switzerland young laureate CEO, Fernandez-Ruiz, started in 2007 and had gotten the attention of the modern fashion arena by partnering with global marketer Anthropologie. Its products were featured in Vogue UK. The company is reaching a steady climb into the limelight while retaining its humble dream of doing social good to the Filipino communities “not just for the sake of being nice but for the sake of the future generation” as Fernandez states. They specialize in upcycling materials into signature creations renowned worldwide for their exclusive style.

On the other hand, the starter company, Jacinto & Lirio is already making waves in the business through its statement plant leather journals. Only three years after being out from college, Bautista, the young CEO, is serving as a youthful inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs to explore and not be afraid in making bold steps in business.

Another innovative alternative economy advocate and farmer fan, Tan talked about community-shared agriculture and investing into farming. Her company, Good Food Community is a novel shift to the way we think about farming, patterned after international agri-eco advocacies of the west. The best part of it is being mutually beneficial to both ends – fresh stream of product supplies for subscribers of the service while promoting a steady demand for the farmers. As what Charlene mused, “connecting you to the people behind your food”.

What is common among them is that they started out with experimental, nearly serendipitous romance with creativity mixed with target market attraction. They were inspired by the possibilities of their market to create jobs for the people they wanted to help. Not too long after the inception of each business, they naturally grew to touch base with international affiliations and have now created projects that display Pinoy pride.

Listen to more success stories. Be part of the country’s biggest exhibition and convention for innovative entrepreneurs and growing franchise businesses, the Entrepreneur and Franchise Expo 2014 with the tagline, “Your Step to Success!” on Feb. 21 – 23 at the SMX Convention Center, Manila, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. For more inquiries and bookings, call the EFE secretariat at (+632) 843-2174 or email