FilAm celebs hold digital expo for small biz owners

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

BURBANK, Calif. – A recent Gallup and Wells Fargo poll shows less business owners are optimistic about the New Year, 23 percent down from 28 percent in 2013.

However, Filipinos continue to find ways to stay ahead of their expectations and increase their chances at success.

Designer and entrepreneur Gina Alexander believes the key is technology, holding a digital footprint expo hoping to show business men and women the advantages of the world wide web.

“Since the big crash in 2008, people better be expanding their digital footprint because if you are not, you’re missing a lot of money. You are not expanding into what businesses are running now. Brick and mortar shops are dying. I’m a testimony to that as I work with a lot of boutiques and a lot of department stores and it’s all about e-commerce and the Internet now,” Alexander said.

Alexander called on some of her well established friends, including former Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio and Fil-Am Kiss FM radio personality, Manny Streetz.

“Definitely benefited from having my own little social network going on a bunch of brands would hit me up and say ‘Hey, would you mind tweeting about this or can we collaborate on something great’,” Manny Streetz said.

“We did not have Facebook and Twitter when I won, and it was a good and a bad thing because Nina Davuluri who became Miss America 2014, the tweets were all over the place. Remember the racism that had happened towards her, that was directed towards her? I didn’t have to specifically experience that the way she did, and in that respect, it was good and at the same time now with Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and all these great platforms people can market themselves so much better,” Baraquio said.

Many of the Asian American women came to the expo to find inspiration and ideas.

“My husband has a tax business. He does taxes for a small amount of people so we hope that it can grow and that’s what I’m hoping to learn on how to make the business grow,” event attendee Evelyn Edwards said.

“I just retired last month so I want to go and learn something new and maybe make money soon,” Lita Calle, an aspiring business owner, said.

While profits, innovation, and technology can help small and large businesses grow, Alexander emphasizes that philanthropy is a must in today’s business climate.

Filipino American Jennifer Braff was the woman behind globally renowned basketball team the Los Angeles Lakers.

While winning on the court, the assistant to the late owner Dr. Jerry Buss said star-studded teams have always made it a point to give back.

“Dr. Buss was into so many charities and he gave so much to so many people. Sent dozens of kids to college and there are so many reasons why he believed in giving so much and being so generous,” Braff said.

For Alexander, who started her Photobag business in a small kiosk, her advocacy has been child adoption, a cause she’s carried into her success.

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