Bo’s Coffee founder Steve D. Benitez has been named the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).
Benitez leads the list of top Cebuano entrepreneurs who received this year’s Grand Chamber Awards, the culminating activity of the Cebu Business Month celebration held on Friday, June 28, 2019.
Other awardees this year are:
Socially Responsible Entrepreneur - Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung
Small Business Entrepreneur - Silvia “Bunny” Ludo-Alcordo
Young Entrepreneur - Melissa Ann Lim-Young
Countryside Entrepreneur - Paul D. Revalde
Grand Chamber Award of Distinction - Efren E. Uy
A Special Citation was given to the Environmental Management Bureau, a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources headed by Regional Director William Cuñado.
The day of the awarding ceremonies was doubly special for Benitez, chief executive officer of Bo’s Coffee operator WS & Landin, Inc., as it was on the exact same day 23 years ago - June 28, 1996 was also a Friday - that he opened his first Bo’s Coffee cart in Ayala Center Cebu.
He earned about P300 on that day, selling coffee for P15 to P25 a cup. Progress was slow in his first six months of operation. But by the eighth month, he opened his second branch.
There are over 100 Bo's Coffee outlets at present, including franchised outlets and a branch in Qatar, its first overseas location.
In 2019 alone, Benitez said he has opened at least six more. The target is to open 20 to 24 more across the country this year.
He also envisions going global in 2022 or 2023 while promoting inclusivity through partnerships with social entrepreneurs in the Philippines.
Benitez also vows to continue putting the spotlight on Philippine coffee by brewing only handpicked coffee beans grown in Sagada in Mountain Province, Benguet, Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, Mt. Apo in Davao and Mt. Matutum in South Cotabato.
Yeung, chairperson of the MSY Charitable Foundation, Inc., credits her father for her strong sense of social responsibility. The family was not rich, but she said her father was always helping someone.
Yeung's foundation was set up originally to assist children with their educational and medical needs. It has expanded to providing healthcare by setting up healthcare centers and providing assistance for immediate surgery of indigents.
The foundation brought to Cebu the Operation Smile program, a US-based international project that performs surgery on children with cleft lip and palate. Since its first mission in 1998, the program has helped over 6,000 patients.
Ludo-Alcordo is the chef and owner of Oh Georg! and Cafe Georg, a coffee shop that serves comfort food.
She did not know how to cook, but when her mother asked her what she wanted to do after college, she said she wanted to open a restaurant. She wanted to learn, but was not certain that it was what she wanted to do.
While working on a degree from the California Culinary Academy, she discovered that cooking is indeed her passion.
After getting her culinary degree, she returned to the Philippines and found a job, but sold cakes and cookies as a sideline while experimenting on the dishes and pastries that she would later offer in her restaurant.
It took her three years before she finally opened Oh Georg! in Ayala Center Cebu in 1998. The restaurant is named after her sister Georgia. Two years later, she opened a bigger restaurant named Cafe Georg at a family-owned property in Banilad.
Lim-Young, founder and managing director of Bubble Tea Station, just wanted to drink milk tea everyday, but there was no milk tea shop near her home in Banilad.
Without experience in running a business, she and her husband Johann opened the first Bubble Tea Station (BTS) in April 2012. As of 2019, or seven years later, they have 27 stores.
Revalde is the president of FDR Group of Companies, which includes the FDR Integrated Resource Recovery Management, Inc., the company behind the country's first integrated processing facility for solid waste in the City of Naga in southern Cebu.
Another unit of FDR Group is Sergio's Farm, an organic vegetable and strawberry farm in Dalaguete town named after Revalde's father. Revalde is also engaged in construction through FDRCon Company, Inc.
Uy is the president and CEO of F2 Logistics Phils., Inc., a logistics company with a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks and hundreds of world-class warehouses across the country.
F2 Logistics is among the more than 20 companies under the highly diversified F2 Group of Companies. (Ventures Cebu)