Brussels, Belgium — The Trabahano Negosyo Kabuhayan (TNK) initiative was recently launched in Brussels, with an entrepreneurship seminar organized by the Philippine Embassy in Belgium on June 16, 2019.
The TNK initiative is part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s blueprint for decent job creation through employment and entrepreneurship for 2017-2022 and is in line with the Embassy’s gender and development (GAD) program to help promote economic empowerment and independence among the Filipino community in Belgium, most of who are women.
The more than 70 participants in the seminar were briefed by the Philippine Trade and Investment Centre-Brussels on the current state of the Philippine economy as well as the support and resources the Philippine government has made available for those who wish to start their own business. This was followed by an inspirational talk by two Filipinos who succeeded in their business ventures in Belgium: Racso Jugarap and Myey Flores-Moens.
Mr. Jugarap, who hails from General Santos City, started out as a chef in Belgium before devoting full time to his passion for wire art and design. He now runs his own business in Brussels under the brands Racso J and Racs. In addition to selling his wire sculptures to galleries and private collectors all over Europe, he creates fashion accessories from wire, rattan and other unique materials for major events and business establishments. He also related how he sought the help of other Filipinos in Belgium, including Filipino housewives, by giving them jobs in the production and packaging of many of his design projects.
Ms. Flores-Moens, on the other hand, is a Los Angeles-born Filipina who studied at the University of the Philippines in Manila before settling down in Belgium with her Belgian husband, Matthias. With the help of renowned chocolate maker Mario Vandeneede, Ms. Flores-Moens co-created with her husband the first Belgian tableya made from Philippine cacao beans, which they call Theo & Brom. The Belgian tableya chocolates, which unlike the usual tableya can be eaten as is even without dissolving it to make hot chocolate, is currently being sold online, with orders coming from around Europe and North America.
The seminar participants were clearly inspired by the success stories of Mr. Jugarap and Ms. Flores-Moens. They expressed their pride in the talent, ingenuity and persistence of their kababayans.
Speaking at the end of the seminar, Ambassador to Belgium Eduardo José A. de Vega praised overseas Filipinos’ resilience and determination to overcome the challenges of living far away from home, family and friends.
The Ambassador also encouraged the Filipino community to make the most of their finances by investing wisely and benefit from the wealth of assistance and expertise of relevant government agencies in launching their own business endeavors.
He mentioned what he called “the four F’s” which Filipino entrepreneurs should concentrate on: food, fashion, furniture and fun. “Filipinos are well-known in these areas, and for sure, you will find success in these sectors as entrepreneurs,” he added.