Link to Original Article from ASI Central
As the head of the National Asian American Coalition, Faith Bautista is one of the country’s leaders in working to make sure minorities, particularly Southeast Asians, are fairly represented and are aware of community and business benefits of which they can take advantage. But Bautista wasn’t always so high-powered; she came to America from the Philippines with a marketing degree, and after several years of working at Hewlett-Packard, she decided to make a change. “I wasn’t born to be an employee,” she says. “I would see people come to work unhappy, leave unhappy and then come back unhappy the next day. I didn’t like that kind of life.”
She started on the path to a new career by founding San Diego Advertising Specialties (asi/318155). And now, she credits her foray into business ownership as the background she needed to become a community and national leader of a nonprofit organization. “It also helps to have supportive people around you,” she says. “My husband supported me when I decided to make my dreams come true.”
But, as she will tell you, her husband’s support was just one piece of the larger puzzle. “I always tell people that I have no secret other than hard work,” she says. “You have to go door to door, network, assert yourself and do whatever it takes to succeed.” She says a reference from a large company goes a long way, but you still have to deliver a good product. “With the best-quality product and the best customer service, people won’t question your expertise,” she says.
About eight years ago, Bautista became involved in what she saw as an important community and national cause. “I saw opportunity with a nonprofit
,” she says, “and I used the entrepreneurial skills I learned early on to found NAAC.” Her organization’s mission has been to help small businesses and micro businesses, particularly those headed by underrepresented minorities, access business education, loans and contracts. “We also want to see an increase in sustainable home ownership,” she explains. “We want an even playing field. It’s a big pie, and I want to see minorities get a portion of it.”
Last year, in addition to her advocacy through NAAC, she began to host “Asian News in America,” a show on The Filipino Network that provides business, consumer and home ownership information to minorities. “I interview politicians, regulators and business leaders, and let them know there’s a market for minorities out there that hasn’t been touched,” she says. “Viewers learn that there are resources that they can take advantage of. We tell minorities that they’re actually qualified for certain loans, when they might not have been aware of them.”
Bautista may be a high-powered, influential outreach leader now, but it was her early start as an entrepreneur in the ad specialty market that played a big part in getting her there. “Since then, I’ve learned that we all have to build our own communities,” she says. “Don’t expect anyone to do anything for you – you have to do it yourself.”