USA: COTIFA pioneers business advocacy for homeland

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COTIFA officers welcome prospective member Christine Mosqueda, daughter of lawyer Roman Mosqueda.

Words and photos by Dionesio C. Grava
First posted in

They described themselves as a group of well-meaning and business oriented Filipino-Americans intent on being a business advocate to create wealth that will benefit both the US and their homeland the Philippines.

COTIFA (Council on Trade and Investment for Filipino Americans) has been registered as a non-profit organization with a mission to “identify, invite and facilitate the investment of US$1 million each from 1,000 Filipino-Americans in the area of agribusiness, renewable energy, health and wellness, business process outsourcing and franchising.”

Also part of their mandate: To identify and disseminate business information and opportunities available both in the US and the Philippines that will encourage Filipino-Americans to engage in business and navigate the business environment successfully.

Mike Pestano presents a Bloomberg graphic showing why investors choose to do business in the Philippines.

During a PowerPoint presentation held at its Mission Hills office recently Mike Pestano, treasurer, indicated that COTIFA’s focus for the Philippine economy are on agri-business, business process outsourcing, health and wellness, franchising and renewable energy. The event was in line with the organization’s program to educate, encourage, advocate and facilitate active participation of Filipino-Americans in COTIFA undertakings.

Para Anderson, COTIFA chairwoman-president, explains the role of the organization in promoting business to the Philippines while Maria Torres, a board member, waits for her turn in the program.

Paraluman Anderson, chairwoman-president, described the role of COTIFA as stepping up to the plate to help fill in the vacuum in the area of trade and investment which perhaps may be attributed to a lack of funds and volunteers on the part of government agencies concerned.

Maria Amor Torres said that COTIFA welcomes everyone desiring to help the Philippine economy even if he/she is not in business. She indicated that they are glad in the organization’s supposed tie-up with the Los Angeles end of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC) headed by Trade Representative Archimedes C. Gomez. It may enable them access to the PTIC database.

She also bared that the organization hosted President Aquino and party during the president’s stop-over in June. Their organization has lined up more activities in the future, she added.

Emily Salinas Roberts, vice president, provided the inspiration remarks. Joel N. Barretto, secretary, invited everyone to be advocates for business.

In his presentation Mr. Pestano used a data of the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators to point out that while roughly three-quarters of the rural poor in the Philippines depend on agriculture for employment and income, there is falling productivity gains because of “inadequate infrastructures, lack of financing and government policies.”

On the other hand the business process outsourcing sector has grown from an obscure industry into one of the country’s leading sources of employment and biggest dollar revenue earners in less than 10 years.

The Philippines is poised to grab a big slice from practically all aspects of the rapidly growing global health and wellness industry that hit a record US$2Trillion last year despite the recession.

More and more of our countrymen are turning to entrepreneurship such as franchising to generate wealth. There were over a thousand franchises last year compared with 50 in the 1990s.

The Philippines has good sources of renewable energy which would help ease the lack of modern cooking fuels and facilities to some 1.9 billion people in Asia.

Other COTIFA board members are Rodolfo ‘Jun’ Jao and Alma Sy. The founding members are Dr. Soledad Lee, Lucy Babaran, Ofelia Serevo, Greda Gregorio and Fely Cabrillos. New members: Pierre Nervades, Alfred Talahuron and Jules Barba.

Attendees of the forum avail of one-on-one discussions with COTIFA officers

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