Rosemarie “Bubu” Andres may be sweet and soft-spoken because these are what she is by nature, but she is making her voice heard all over the world as the Global Chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), the international association of business owners composed of 14,000 members in more than 70 countries.
As head of EO for the period covering 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, Bubu leads its Global Board in effecting change toward a more youth-inclusive and gender-sensitive organization.
Bubu, who, together with her husband Ricky, founded Candy Corner Philippines (which sells candies in mall kiosks) and Snap Snap Foods Corp., (which distributes candies to the country’s top supermarkets) has been traveling to various parts of the world to encourage women and below-30-year-old entrepreneurs to join the EO.
As Bubu led the Global Board in setting up its targets or measurable goals, she expressed the need “for a more long-term planning session, one that would cover the goals for the organizations’ Vision 2020 and not just the single year that she is the chair.
“Diversity and inclusion were on top of our list as we set up our percentage targets. One was the number of women in the organization. And then, the number of members under 35 years old. Since we’re getting older, we felt the need for a serious attempt to recruit younger members. We did not want to become an ageing organization.
“On women, our target is 20 percent of the membership. Now, women compose only 13.6 percent of the membership or that’s only 1,000 plus. Right now, we’re about 14,000-plus members.”
As part of her duties as Global Chair, she has been traveling, recently to Cape Town in South Africa and Chile, for the organization’s quarterly board meetings. Significant to women was her visit to Harvard University with which EO established a tie-up program.
She explained, “I went to Harvard earlier with my friend Sarah, a member of the US East region of EO and she introduced me to Frances Frei, a famous professor. We met with Professor Frei to inquire about the gender initiative program of Harvard and how we can learn from her and apply the knowledge to our own initiatives at EO. And that progressed to further talks that led to the creation of the tie-up program.”
Another significant visit of Bubu was to the World Bank International Finance Corp, “in connection with our support for the UN SDG but we are more focused on gender equality,” she related.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG) are blueprints to achieve a better and more sustainable future. They address global challenges such as those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity and peace and justice.
The goals interconnect and are all targeted to be met by 2030.
“There was a small conference on disrupting the gender divide. We discussed how we can support women, the history of the divide, the current statistics, what the issues are, what we can do to help and what we can do in our own environment. The conference was also about gender equality. Since IFC is the world’s largest investor, one of their long-term goals was to require all the companies they invest in to have 50 percent of women in the board. That’s how far they’re going now.”
Although EO in itself is a non-profit organization, so that as a whole it may be likened to a Corporate Social Responsibility program, Bubu pointed out that it has a specific program, “My EO Engaged,” which is focused on projects that help communities.
“When we talk about helping other entrepreneurs learn and grow, we talk about what we call the 360s, or the four aspects of your life, namely, personal, business, family and community. This way, an entrepreneur grows in the four aspects. Right now, EO Engaged is focused on helping companies support the 17 UN SDG.So there’s a group that is aiming at setting up a structure that will help the members support the UN SDGs within their companies.”
Incidentally, Daily Tribune had joined hands with the UN and other global media organizations last October for efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change through the SDG Global Media Compact.
The newspaper was named the SDG Global Media Partner, a sole distinction accorded to a Philippine publication.
Daily Tribune visited Bubu at the headquarters of Candy Corner and Snap Snap Philippines where she shares the executive office with her husband, Ricky. While Ricky is the president of Candy Corner, she is its chief financial officer. Between the two of them, he handles the retail side of their family business while she takes care of the distribution company as its general manager.
Daily Tribune (DT): Let’s talk about EO. Who are qualified as members?
Rosemarie Antonio Andres (RAA): You have to be an entrepreneur, owner of a business and you are running the business to become a member.
DT: Oh, even if I am running it but I don’t own it, not even partly, I can’t be a member.
RAA: That’s right.
DT: Do you have an age limit for the members?
RAA: We have no age limit. There is a minimum revenue requirement to join the organization. It should be one million dollars in annual revenue. So, here in the Philippines, that’s about P50 million.
DT: Which says a lot about your company. Wow!
RAA: Oh, there are a lot of companies in the Philippines with the same size and revenue. You can achieve that kind of number once you have good enough operations. These are medium-sized companies.
DT: So, how did you become Global Chair?
RAA: The Global Board chose me. There’s a voting process. Then, it’s ratified by the membership.
DT: So how is it in the Philippines? Do you have young members?
RAA: Here in the Philippines, we have a very strong and very big chapter. We’re 160-plus members but we don’t have a single member who is under 30 years old. We have not really expanded to the provinces. We’re mostly based in Manila. By March, though, we are launching a second chapter, the Philippine South, which will focus on the Visayas and Mindanao.
DT: Were you ever president of the EO in the Philippines?
RAA: Eleven years ago.
DT: So, the representative to the Global Board is not necessarily the president for the year.
DT: You must have been active, or they would not have noticed you.
RAA: I was running a task force at that time. It was called “My EO” task force. It is a committee that allows its members to own their own experiences, so they create their own events, forums and groups that will enhance their experience in EO. So, we called it For Members, By Members. It’s like customizing your own experience through this task force.
DT: How do you “own” an experience?
RAA: For example, I want to go to the Maldives to dive. I can set up an event and invite other people. So, this April, an event of that sort is happening. Members and spouses are welcome to join, they just have to pay the necessary fees.
DT: So, let’s go back to you. How did being with EO help you?
RAA: It helped me a lot. Setting goals. Focus. Maximizing time. Delegating. What I learned more is the planning. And strategizing, too. Whatever we do in EO, we try to implement.
DT: You have this group of a number where you learn from each other. What is it called?
RAA: That’s the forum. We’re about six or seven, and a maximum of 12. Seven and eight are a good number. We meet monthly for updates. We talk about what we call the five percent. It’s like in life, there’s that 90 percent you can talk about with anybody. But there’s always the extreme five percent, the highest and the lowest of the spectrum. Something you can’t talk about in the dining table. That’s what we talk about at the Forum. Again, it goes back to helping the entrepreneur learn and grow.
DT: Is there a maximum age for one to join EO?
RAA: It used to be that one had to be 49 or below. Our oldest member now is 75 years old.
DT: Let’s talk about your candy retail and distribution business. What made you think of selling candies and not something else?
RAA: My husband, Ricky, and I started the business together. Right after college, we started formalizing the business. We started importing toys. And then, we became the exclusive distributor of Lisa Frank, this sticker and stationery brand, girls’ items and bags and the girls loved them.
So, we applied for a space in Ayala when only Glorietta 1 and 2 were being built. It was the only way to introduce our products to the market. It was only two years after that Ayala wrote us back to tell us that we were going to have a space. By that time, all the department stores were carrying our products already. So, we asked Ayala if we could change the concept. So, instead of the stickers and novelty items, we asked if we could focus on candies and novelty candies. Ayala was happy because they were actually looking for a candy concept. So, we said, “Game, we’ll do it.”
DT: Who gave the name, Candy Corner?
RAA: It was in a corner of Glorietta 2, near the Area home store. Ayala gave us the smallest space at the corner right beside the railing. My husband and I were looking at the space and I asked him, “What shall we name it?” He said, “Candy Corner na lang.” Okay, sige.
DT: How do you do your marketing? Do you advertise?
RAA: No. Our daughter, the eldest, is working with us already. Her name is Rina. She is our business development manager. So she also handles our digital marketing. She belongs to that generation that knows a lot about social marketing. Even analytics. Like my husband, she has a marketing mind. And she grew up with candies all her life. She kind of has a sense of what sells and what doesn’t. So, it’s easy to train her.
DT: How was Candy Corner in 2018?
RAA: Good. The distribution side was consistent. The retail was slightly higher. Our focus in 2018 was productivity and efficiency. It was basically about cutting costs. We did away with stores that weren’t doing well and we opened stores in better locations.
DT: Okay, so let’s wind up. Of your Christmas wishes in 2017, what came true in 2018?
RAA: For my kids to get settled. Rina is getting married, Robbie graduated from college at Trinity University in Texas last May, and he got a good job immediately, and Rissa, my youngest, found her place. She moved to The Netherlands where she is studying International Business.
DT: So, what is it you want to happen in 2019?
RAA: Peace and stability, both economic and political. Good health for our family and everybody.