FCCH: Building Bridges For Filipino Businesses

by Dennis Galolo

When it comes to success for small businesses, there is really no substitute for the “N” word—networking. Successful entrepreneurs utilize networking as a means to form relationships that help to expand their ability to reach new customers, partner and grow.

It is simply good businesses sense to use every available professional and social opportunity to make connections with highly influential people who you can call on when needed and to stay on the cutting edge of new business trends.

In much the same way, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) is at the front lines when it comes to networking and promoting Hawaii’s Filipino business community, thanks to its various programs and activities that broaden opportunities for Filipino entrepreneurs and member businesses.

FCCH also works hard to strengthen business links between Hawaii and the Philippines; assist in the professional growth of its members and support the well-being of the community.

“Especially here in Hawaii, a lot of times it’s not what you know but who you know,” says FCCH president Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch. “That’s the importance of networking and having connections with people in key positions who can open doors and give you an advantage over your competitors.”

Atmospera-Walch is the founder of Advantage Health Care Provider Inc., a local company contracted by the State to provide health care services and support to intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals who need home and community-based health care services.

Currently in its 66th year, FCCH was established in 1954 with 47 charter members. It holds the distinction as the oldest Filipino chamber of commerce in the U.S. In 1962, FCCH held its first community event featuring the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company. Later that same year, the organization sponsored a trade mission to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The very next year (1963) proved just as pivotal as FCCH held its inaugural trade mission to the Philippines, led by Chamber president Barney Menor, with the purpose of fostering economic development and improving relations between Hawaii and the Philippines via trade, goodwill and the exchange of ideas. The trade missions have since continued, the latest being the 29th Trade Mission to Manila, Clark, Tarlac, Candon, Vigan and Laoag held October 12-22, 2019.

The Best and Brightest
In 1989, FCCH launched its Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which was followed in 1992 with the annual Scholarship Awards program to recognize the best and brightest Filipino scholars. The highly-anticipated event currently includes three award presentations—the Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Filipino Entrepreneur of the Year, and Business Executive of the Year.

News of all the award winners and their individual accomplishments reaches the community at-large, not just only to Filipinos.

“The Chamber promotes their accomplishments as a way to instill cultural pride, especially among our youth,” says Atmospera-Walch. “These successful entrepreneurs are role models for Filipino youth.

“Many of these entrepreneurs are first generation immigrants from the Philippines like Lito Alcantra, president of Group Builders Inc., who came from humble beginnings but through hard work achieved unparalleled success in their respective fields. In addition, they also have given back generously to the community.”

Following the awards presentations, scholarships in varying amounts to deserving students are also announced that same evening. FCCH holds various fundraising activities to supplement funds for the scholarships.

FCCH also sponsors educational seminars that provide advice on improving business’ bottom line as well as other helpful services for the benefit of members.

Overall, Atmospera-Walch enjoys serving as FCCH president and is grateful for the support of the organization’s hardworking officers and directors.

“I like being around successful individuals and great business owners and leaders who believe in giving back to the community they serve,” says Atmospera-Walch.

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