"Building a Business with a Conscience": Changing the World with Jio Victorino

This is a case study of a World Changer: someone who is living the life he or she wants while making a difference at the same time. Are you a World Changer? Share your story with us or read other World Changers' stories here.

World Changer: Josef Harry "Jio" Victorino

Organization: JHV Trading

Jio is one of those guys from college who you just feel are going to succeed. I met Jio during my last years in college and there were two things about him that always stood out to me: his drive to succeed and his genuine care for the members of the organization he was a leader of. Being a driven leader with a big heart, it comes as no surprise that he has built a business with a big heart as well! This story is for all the aspiring World Changers who someday wish to build their own empires!

Tell us about what you do

I help small businesses in my city (local restaurants, neighborhood bakeries, RTW stores, etc) by sourcing and providing them with convenient and affordable packaging and kitchen supplies. The main benefit I provide to my clients is convenience. Behind the scenes, I consistently donate a portion of profits to feed the children in an orphanage.

Let me illustrate the model further: Lets say we have Mr. Joe Restauranteur who owns his first startup restaurant. He has limited working capital to take advantage of discounts by buying in bulk. He also does not have the storage space for it. That is where my business comes in- providing affordable packaging supplies at a quantity that Joes storage and cashflow can manage.

I am trying to level the playing field for small businesses by showing them that you do not need to be a conglomerate to enjoy operational efficiencies and to help others as well. I do not think I founded a social enterprise per se but I represent a silent but relevant demographic among those who seek the common good: entrepreneurs with a conscience. We dont get as much of the glamour and hero appeal that non-profits or social enterprises get but we do our part in quiet, concrete, measurable and sustainable ways. It is for this paragraph that I opted to have myself interviewed though I prefer to work behind the scenes. I also chose not to include a picture of myself since my identity doesn’t matter much compared to the value of showing myself as a “case study of the demographic I am representing.

"Before I leave this earth, I want to be a small ripple in this virtuous cycle (of paying it forward). Being recognized for it is irrelevant, I just want to be a good steward of what I was given- which happens to be business skills."

How do you make money or achieve freedom doing this?

I am blessed that my advocacy towards the pursuit of the common good is directly integrated with my means. The business, though it is more traditional and not one of those sexy social enterprises per se, is one built with a conscience. I believe that money only highlights your virtues or vices and though I admit that I want to be materially prosperous someday, I know that a part of my motivations is to have greater means of helping.

How do you change the world doing this?

My business feeds hungry children. Behind the scenes, I invest in the future of people who will never be able to pay me back or acknowledge my effort. I find solace in that. My limited capacity only allows me to help so much but Im banking on the belief of paying it forward.

I am sacrificing a portion of my hard-earned profits on the possibility that one day these children will grow up to be contributing and virtuous members of society who will in turn give their own form of good to other people who will also pay it forward to others. Before I leave this earth, I want to be a small ripple in this virtuous cycle. Being recognized for it is irrelevant, I just want to be a good steward of what I was given- which happens to be business skills. 

"I shared my story to show that a meaningful life has a price but I think that price far outweighs the value of my personal comforts... To have a free and meaningful life, we must be responsible enough to pay the price."

What did you do before this?

I worked as a head of back office operations in a non-profit organization before transitioning as an entrepreneur. This was instrumental in the formation of my world view. This organization called BCYF is now involved in a number of initiatives towards the pursuit of the common good.

How did you know about this opportunity?

I think I was just fortunate that the opportunity presented itself. I had an aunt who owned a restaurant who suggested that I try to be her packaging supplier first to get my feet wet in doing business. My Aunt Betty is one of my mentors and one of my most first clients.

My Aunt Mercy gave me my first break, she took the leap by giving me the chance to be the supplier of the bakery chains she and her husband operate. They also guide me from time to time.

A portion of my capital was donated by my Aunt Cecille. This was supposed to be a loan with a portion of interest going to the support of the orphanage. After almost a year, she literally gave me her “investment” and interest she was entitled to, on the premise that I help more people with what I do. I am the beneficiary of acts of kindness that I cannot repay. I feel morally-obligated to do well because of this.   

My desire to work towards the common good was refined by one of my mentors, the Chairman of BCYF, Mr. Antonio Yap. He is a great yet humble man who reinforced in me that it is possible to be both excellent and virtuous.

What made you decide to finally take the leap?

I realized that the corporate life was depressing for me but the life of a non-profit worker though fulfilling did not give me the degree of freedom I needed to function at my best. I think independently. Looking at my choices, no work existed which I found fulfilling. I had to build my dream job. The most logical option left then for me to marry my material and career desires with my philanthropic goals was to be a businessman the responsible kind.  

What was the most difficult challenge you faced when you were starting out?

Being the youngest in our family, I have a tendency to be a people-pleaser. It was difficult for me to not have my mothers blessing when I started. (When I was starting, to conceal operations, I began by hiding inventory in my room and in a spare room in my grandmothers store.) To give a bit of background, my brothers are both surprisingly successful in their corporate careers. I know my mother wanted me to follow suit so she disagreed with me, and maybe partly because she wanted to protect me from potential failure. But I did not fail because that was not an option. I will bring honor to my family, but in my own way. It was hard for me to witness her indifference and occasional discouraging remarks during my difficult first few months when I needed emotional support the most.

Honestly, up to now, I feel that she is disappointed with me. Every good son would want their parents to be proud of them. But I know that for her sake as my parent and for mine, I must stay the course. I will continue with this path for I know this is where the best potential version of me lies. She must learn to accept that. And I must learn to forgive.

I shared my story to show that a meaningful life has a price but I think that price far outweighs the value of my personal comforts. I am still a trader at heart and I invest highly in a life consistent with my principles, which for me is the true measure of freedom. To have a free and meaningful life we must be responsible enough to pay the price. 

How are you coping up with your challenges?

1. I remind myself to be proactive. Borrowing loosely from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is when good men, fail to act.

2. Stoic philosophy helps. There will be things beyond your control. I try to categorize upsetting events as actionable or non-actionable. (Actionable meaning I can change the outcome, non-actionable meaning I cannot.)  At my best, I accept the non-actionable items and act on the actionable ones.

3. I try to be thankful. I watched a TED video on Youtube about the benefits of being thankful and having a positive outlook. I learned that people have a bias towards remembering the negativities and that it requires work to shift to a positive outlook. I fill up a list of things to be thankful for on my laptops Sticky Notes on a daily basis. I still get my bad days but it helps me put things in perspective.

4. I pray. There are just too many risks in doing business. I realized that I cannot control the outcome no matter how hard I try. I pray for the grace to do what is required of me.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from doing this?

1. Borrowing loosely from from the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, a stoic philosopher: The impediment to action precedes action. The obstacle is the way.

2. Do not eat the marshmallow. It's a trap! I see it in social media how we view Y.O.L.O as an excuse to pursue instant gratification. Worthwhile things cost much. The cost of doing worthwhile things is the constant decision to work through pain. At times when I feel stuck or procrastinating, I ask myself what is the most difficult thing I am not doing right now that I should be doing to move the objective forward. Most of the time, the answer to that is your next step.

3. Borrowing from Seneca, another stoic philosopher: He who is brave is free. Be willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Has the journey been worth it?

Yes. I cannot describe it well but there is an irreplaceable, quiet satisfaction in knowing that there is alignment in what you do and with what you believe is right.  

What's next for you?

When I think about it, I would be honored if my business would be an integral part of my clients competitive advantage. I would need to expand my client base and also my product and service offerings to cater to that.  A lot must be done still.

Your advice to aspiring World Changers

Believe that the world needs you now, not tomorrow. No amount of inspiring blog posts read can trump action. Dreamers need to act. I quote the late Steve Jobs: Real artists ship.

How can they reach you or how can they join your revolution?

It is best to contact me via email at jbvictorino1@gmail.com. I usually answer emails around 11 am and 11 pm.

Get your feet wet. Try involving yourself in a worthwhile cause.  It will be good for you.

If you want to join me care for the young and the abandoned please, please contact: 697-64-57 and look for Sister Jyoti Kiran, M.C of the Missionaries of Charity. The orphanage is found at Brgy. Sta Cruz, Emerald Hills, Sumulong Highway, Antipolo City, Rizal.


Image: Causing Ripples by Henry Hemming