WHILE successful business leaders of her generation were inside their cozy offices checking on the day’s turnout, Ma. Alegria Sibal-Limjoco was out in New York with her friends selling cosmetics to women for extra income.
Despite coming from a family of businessmen, Bing, as industry friends call her, wanted to make her own name in the business landscape. Armed with a brochure and her convincing powers, she sold Avon products to prospective customers during her free hours.
She did this when she was on her 20s, juggling between her job at an American bookstore and her part-time job in a department store. Not to mention that she was finishing her degree in interior design at the New York School of Interior Design in the 1970s.
“I was really quite busy in New York, studying from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., then working after class and selling Avon products. I worked part-time for Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and worked for Gimbel’s Department Store, too, part-time. Though my father would send me allowances, I wanted to learn as much while I was in New York,” she said.
She came back to Manila when she was 23, and immediately worked in their family business, Phoenix Publishing House.
“When I was 25, I wanted to have a family. I also wanted to grow our family business. And I wanted to make a difference in life,” she said.
She did all of these one step at a time, starting with the establishment of her own family. She tied the knot with Angel “Dodi” I. Limjoco at 25.
“I got married when I was 25. I was already president of the Harrison Plaza Tenants Association,” Bing said, referring to the group of businesses that are housed inside the big mall near Roxas Boulevard.
The young businesswoman back then started working her way to the top. “I always looked up to my parents who created many businesses,” she said. “In my family, I always put the Lord in the center.”
Bing said the secret to her success today revolves around three basic virtues. “I always believe in hard work, honesty and integrity. These were inculcated in me by my parents,” she said. “Looking at the big picture, I always believe in simple life, and in sharing our blessings.”
She added: “We have had challenges in life, but for every setback there is always a silver lining.”
Today, she is the chief executive of Francorp Philippines, the company that helped a number of successful franchises in the Philippines. Brands such as Jollibee, Max’s Restaurant, Goldilocks, Potato Corner, Reyes Haircutters, Pancake House and Bench, among many others, owe their success to the Francorp bigwig.
“In 1995 Philippine Retailers gave birth to the Philippine Franchise Association. The year after, I, with partners Samie Lim and Manny Siggaoat, brought in Francorp from Chicago, USA, to Manila,” she said. “With this, I, as the CEO of Francorp, have built many successful brands from obscurity to solid, great brands.”
Francorp Philippines is part of the worldwide network of Francorp International. Organized in Manila in 1996, it is today’s premier and leading franchise consulting firm in the Philippines, with over 350 successful franchises developed or assisted at various stages of their growth.
The company’s franchise clients account for a quarter of the total franchises in the Philippine market. Francorp works nationwide with as many as 5,000 entrepreneurs a year through franchise seminars, events, media and other marketing activities.
“We have created thousands of entrepreneurs and created millions of jobs through franchising,” she said.
Her name in the franchising industry continued to bloom over the years. She has many hats to wear, depending on which group she represents. Today, Bing is a director of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, the vice chairman of the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), and the Vice Chairman of Philippine Retailers Association.
She was also the first Asian and Filipino to receive the certified franchise executive title from the US Institute of Certified Franchise Executives in 2003.
But she reached the apex of all her hard work and dedication when she was conferred the lifetime achievement award by the PFA.
“I must say I have achieved my dream. What a fulfillment in life it is to create successful brands,” she said.
Down the road, she hopes to see more local companies compete in the international scene, especially after the members of the Southeast Asian nations have formed the Asean Economic Community.
“I expect to see many of the brands we have helped to go global,” she said.