Ms. Pacita “Chit” Juan is a founder & former CEO of Figaro Coffee Co., founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporate, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee.
In 2004, she was named as Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Small Business category; Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist, 2011; and just this 25th of July 2013, she received a CEO Excel Award from the @IABCPH.
ON LEAVING BIG BOSS ROLE BEHIND
After 15 years since setting up Figaro Coffee Co. and making her mark in the Philippine coffee industry, Pacita "Chit" Juan stepped down as the chief executive officer last June 2008.
She considered leaving the company, which she nourished like her own child, to venture into social entrepreneurship as her life’s biggest challenge yet.
She was at a crossroad. She was seeking for and yearning to reach her life’s purpose—something that has evolved since she started her 30-year ascent as a profit-seeking entrepreneur.
"My advocacy in coffee is in the Philippine Coffee Board. For the environment and a sustainable lifestyle, it's in ECHOstore, and my advocacy to different communities is through my work in the Peace and Equity Foundation," Juan explained.
Juan was also appointed as a business sector representative of the Peace and Equity Foundation, a non-government organization (NGO) that administers an endowment fund for poverty alleviation.
These new roles are a breeze. The entrepreneurial spirit of her family, who has an almost half a century-old automobile parts venture, got her going even at a young age. She bought and sold chocolates and peddled them to her elementary classmates. Not long after, she was creating perforated bags out of scrap metal from their auto parts factory and retailed them in bazaars.
With the help of friends, she founded Figaro Coffee Co. in 1993.
Juan now watches Figaro Coffee from a distance, leaving her partners to chart its destiny. She still holds a 42-percent stake in the company and maintains her seat in the board. She still leads Figaro Foundation.
Letting go was initially something she needed to get used to. Whenever she visits restaurants and cafes, for instance, she would point out shortcomings to waiters and managers as if they were her own staff.
She found it discomforting at first to repeatedly explain her decision to people who would always come to her to ask for a franchise, or to complain about a certain branch. But Juan said she managed to make the transition because she was more excited about the roles she was transitioning to.
As Big Boss, Juan would get up early in the morning for work since she wanted to be first in the office. For each day, she would focus all her energies on strategic planning, making sure that there's growth every year like every business should be. She would go to stores to check on her staff's performance, acting like the noise police if she senses anything wrong.
Juan still gets up early, and her schedule is still packed with meetings. But instead of being concerned with numbers, she now looks forward to establishing new relationships and networks for her causes.
"Now I use my 30-year experience to make the biggest impact on other people's lives. So it's no longer about economics, but leaving the world a better place than when you found it," Juan concluded.
You can follow her on twitter.com @chitjuan or find her on facebook: Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at email@example.com.
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