‘Turning bright ideas into business’


That was the primary aim of the CNMI Department of Commerce when it hosted the 2017 Business Summit yesterday at Pacific Island Club’s Charley’s Cabaret.

Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman, with the support of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the entire department, stressed this with current business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs at the summit’s start.

“We are very fortunate that for such a short time frame, we were able to put this together. We’ve had a lot positive feedback from the public and private sector. We have a lot inquiries and sponsors. Their willingness to see this come to full circle is a very positive sign because it means that there is really a need out there,” said Rabauliman.

Now is the right time to start a business, he said.

“We are growing. There is a lot of opportunity. While there is an opportunity for big and small businesses, it is important to note that there is definitely an opportunity for new businesses. This is why Commerce was compelled to host this,” he said.

The summit’s topics, Rabauliman said, were carefully chosen and will be presented by speakers who are knowledgeable and equipped with their vast experience in business and policymaking.

“We are bringing together the big businesses and small businesses, our local leaders to speak and expand what they are doing up in the hill to create laws, to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. We also have the banks [and] the Commonwealth Development Authority participating,” he said.

Marie Cabrera, a housewife said: “I don’ t have a business yet, just ideas. I want to get into the food business or dog shelter business. The reason why I came here is that maybe I will be able to get ideas and know how I can start.”

People like Cabrera are the major target market of the summit. Rabauliman knows that starting a business can be a scary process.

“There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. There is an inherent risk but also tremendous reward. There’s freedom, flexibility, and building something the way you want to,” he said.

“I hope that the insight, inspiration, and professional network that participants gain from today’s event will help them start down the road of starting their own business. Hopefully this summit empowers them to have that leap of faith. That’s the whole premise of this event,” he added.

Rabauliman hopes that this year’s summit will be one of many so they can close the gap between seasoned business people and neophytes, and foster networking and relationships.

“We are going to use this first summit as a baseline to grow. For businesses, this is an opportunity to hear their challenges and maybe become an inspiration for beginners. Hopefully, the topics will spark an idea that will make them say ‘Oh there’s my niche!’” he said.

Bea Cabrera | Correspondent
Bea Cabrera, who holds a law degree, also has a bachelor's degree in mass communications. She has been exposed to multiple aspects of mass media, doing sales, marketing, copywriting, and photography.

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