Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Forum with Profriends founder, Guillermo Choa with a supply shortage of over four million homes that continues to grow annually, the low-cost housing segment in the Philippines, home to over 101 million Filipinos, remains to be the real sweet spot in the property sector. Leading the charge in developing housing for this segment is Guillermo Choa, the visionary and the founder behind PRO-FRIENDS – one of the lowest-cost and fastest producers of housing, having built over 36,000 affordable homes in Cavite and Iloilo in the 17-year history of the company.

Having over 30 years of experience in the business of properties, one of the recurring themes in his journey is “Seeing opportunity in amidst of a crisis”. Where a crisis can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, one such quandary came in the form of the Asian Financial Crisis. Banks were in a very tight situation. There were failed lending by the banks left and right - some were to developers who got loans to develop properties. Amidst the cloud of financial chaos, Mr. Choa decided to look at the brighter side; an opportunity to buy cheap assets brought by the financial crisis and an overwhelming demand for properties since most developers went under during that time. This proved to be one of the most lucrative bets by Mr. Choa and his company, PRO-FRIENDS.

Early on, Mr. Guillermo Choa studied the target market so well that he knew that the real estate industry is heavily linked to the financial system given that most buyers relied on installment schemes and the developers would need the much-coveted liquidity. Thus, PRO-FRIENDS developed its lending system, CTS Financing. This eventually made buying properties within arm’s reach for the Filipinos.
In spite of the thriving financing business, one lesson he learned is not to rely on the same competitive advantage over and over again. Noting that, “Whatever business model you’re doing now will have to survive 3-5 years, if it’s not obsolete then the person is obsolete.” This conscious effort of re-inventing itself has led PRO-FRIENDS to adapt the precast technology allowing major savings in expenses while maintaining the quality of their developments.
More than just a shelter, PRO-FRIENDS built not just houses but communities - as proven by their firm commitment to the five components of living – Live, Work, Learn, Play, and Worship. This essentially became the ultimate evolution of their business model. By providing more services and being more relevant to the market, PRO-FRIENDS ceased to be just a developer, now, it plays an active part in transforming the lives of the people in communities that they develop and maybe even a nation.

Truly, having Mr. Guillermo Choa as the guest speaker in the recent Anvil forum has inspired all the young entrepreneurs of the Anvil Business Club who attended the forum to reach for greater heights.
No less than Ms. Lilia Clemente, Chairman and CEO of Clemente Capital Inc. handling over $6 billion globally, commended Mr. Guillermo Choa for his words of wisdom that he imparted that night. A legend in her own right, Lilia Clemente is known for opening emerging markets as promising investments to the West, where most capital would only flow amongst developed nations. She was also known for bringing then President Cory Aquino to the New York Stock Exchange. There was an entertaining back and forth during the Q&A between them which brought all the audience to pay attention to their brilliant discussion.

Certainly, it must be fate that brought these two titans of their respective industries in one forum, but what is undeniable is their shared vision of a brighter future for our country and their heart for the common Filipino.

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