Rossana Llenado did not have any kind of advantage. Her family poor and no one gave her any capital. Her parents were not important people. They didn’t have any connections. When she was young, she lived in Los Baños, a small town in Laguna. She was a very shy girl, and she liked reading. “You know reading is usually a hobby of loners.” Rossana explains.

Despite this, she has always believed she was born to be an entrepreneur. She formally started becoming one at the age of 8, when she sold polvoron to her classmates. As early as then, she had retailers to sell her goods to their classmates and friends. She even shared her polvoron to those who helped her wrap them. That was her first business venture.

But then again, how would you call the caroling stint she led when she was five or six?

She still remembers making sure her group knew many Christmas songs by heart. Each of friends had a musical instrument to play. They even had a strategy of knocking first before singing. They wore better clothes than most other carolers. She told my group that homeowners would give them more if they liked our singing and if they saw they had nice clothes on. At 5 years old, she already knew the importance of giving value!

When she was 9, she sold rubber bands, texts, and marbles. They were the “in” things then, much like the Yugi oh! cards and Crush Gear now.

When she was10, their house burned down, leaving them with nothing to go by. But she got a chance to buy a set of stickers, which she immediately sold to her classmates by piece.  Of course, she only had a small profit but she  used it to buy two sets of stickers to again sell. Then she got 4 sets to sell… until she had a bagful of stickers.

My business grew because I plowed back my earnings to the venture.” says Rossana.

One day, she sold all her stickers at bargain price and didn’t buy any more. She knew less people would buy from her, so she had to stop selling.

After all, everybody had a lot of stickers already. They didn’t have any need or want of more.”

Money was not that important to her then as it is now. But this is only because she have so much to pay for now. Early on, she already loved seeing her inventory grow and making her customers happy. She has never minded working too much.

I work because I like working. And I love the challenge that a real business brings. Until now, I like satisfying my customers and helping people.”

With AHEAD, I am able to help 5 sets of people.”

First of all, Ahead helps the students who want to get into the schools of their choice for example, Ateneo Prep, Philippine Science High School, and UP, Ateneo or La Salle for college. Since AHEAD was established in 1995, it has maintained the highest passing percentage in the entrance tests of top schools.

I consider it a great privilege to assist students in achieving their goals, even if it is just through a college entrance review.”

Second, Ahead helps the parents who only want the best for their children yet are burdened by career responsibilities and earning a living. Ahead saves them from the hassle of helping their children with their daily load of homework and quiz preparations. With a tutor to handle the academics, parents now have more energy for “real bonding” with their kids. They have time to read with them, play games, and chat.

Third, Ahead helps the tutors who are mostly graduating students. Ahead gives them a chance to earn while they are studying, and to gain solid experience.

Fourth, they help the lecturers who desire to share their knowledge without leaving their respective professions. Their pool of instructors includes engineers, doctors, and lawyers who find themselves needing to impart their knowledge even while they excel in their practices. AHEAD allows them to make use of their gift in teaching through short courses and review programs that need not interfere with their professional responsibilities.

And of course, I help my staff by giving them regular employment and giving them a chance to also help form minds, build dreams, and shape the future.”

What we do at AHEAD is truly fulfilling.”

She believes she was able to build the company she is very proud of  because of the lessons she has learned in her ventures when she was young:

1. Get others to help you.  She got help in preparing and distributing the polvorons.

2. Give more value than the rest.  Her caroling style was different and better than all other groups her age even up to this time.

3. Plow back profit into the business in order for it to grow. Stickers.

4. Give customers only what they want or need. Tex, marbles, rubber bands.

5. Constantly find ways to help your people. Your customers and all the stakeholders.

6. Be an original or prove that you are the best in your field. Ahead’s passers list, awards, others. We also have many firsts.

7. Be willing to really work long hours. Double the 8 hours by 6 days.

8. Be sure you’re in the business that will really fulfill you as a person. Just find what you want. We like different things.

Nevertheless, she still believes that she could never have done anything at all without prayers, the loving support of her family and all the people of Ahead who have worked with her. Her Ahead family has weathered the pains of setting up, and growing up. They have gone through financial and human resource problems, la nina, el nino, sars, the country’s economic and political crisis. They have suffered though lots of changes of a woman’s fickle mind in trying to keep get the best possible results.

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