The Philippines, through President Rodrigo R. Duterte (center) and the Department of Trade and Industry’s Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (3rd from right) reaffirm strong economic partnership with Singapore through the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). They discussed increased collaboration in sectors such as food, engineering and architecture services, aircraft and MRO services, infrastructure, construction and public-private partnership (PPP), shipbuilding, Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), tourism, and startup. In 2015, approved investments from Singapore reached US$370 million, making the Lion City the fifth largest source of investments globally and the highest in ASEAN. Total Philippine exports to Singapore amounted to $3.6 billion making it as the 5th largest export market of the country.
Speaking at the recent International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit in Singapore, Philippine Foreign Trade ASEAN Leader and Department of Trade and Industry’s Commercial Counsellor for Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei Glenn Peñaranda emphasized the critical role both government and private sector play in achieving sustainable development. Peñaranda spoke at the summit on behalf of the Philippine National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
“The strengths and synergies of stakeholders will help in the formulation of better plans and programs that champion sustainable practices. We are committed in working with the private sector and civil society towards achieving green and sustainable development goals,” said Peñaranda.
The Philippines is one of the forerunners of sustainable development in Asia and has been considered one of the pioneers in the Asia-Pacific region in establishing a multi-stakeholder body, with the creation of the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) in 1992 which is currently chaired by the NEDA Director-General. It promotes development by policy integration, establishing indicators and standards in monitoring contributions of government institutions and businesses and continuing education and raising awareness for current and future generations.
The PSCD led the creation in 1997 of the Philippine Agenda 21 (PA21), the nation’s blueprint for sustainable development. This was complemented by the business sector with the Business Agenda 21 which provides the broad vision and implementing strategies and parameters for sustainable development. In 2012, the Philippines renewed its political commitment by participating in the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil.
Over the years, the Philippine government has established an enabling environment that facilitates implementation of activities and business processes by the enactment of laws translated into key programs and activities of government and the private sector. Policies are on protected areas for biodiversity, wildlife, clean air and water, renewable energy, fisheries, among others. Furthermore, an Environmental Compliance Certificate was made a requisite document for a project evaluation.
The government also launched the Philippine Environment Partnership Program which seeks to encourage and support establishments to adopt self-regulation for improved environmental performance. Government provides the regulatory assistance and other incentives to enable businesses achieve pollution prevention and cleaner production processes.
According to Peñaranda, “Collaborations should go beyond the aid agenda and serve as venue for knowledge, capacities and technologies exchange. Partnerships foster sharing of policy successes and best practices.”
Several multinationals and brands have a long legacy in the Philippines and deep-rooted connections compelling them to partner with the government and go beyond humanitarian relief. One example is the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program of Coca-Cola Philippines and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). It is designed for women micro-entrepreneurs who own and manage sari-sari or community stores
and help them achieve business success. The women are given access to training, resources and peer mentoring in the TESDA Women’s Center. The STAR Program is being implemented in over 47 locations nationwide and has reached more than 52,000 women.
Another is Text2Teach by Microsoft Philippines, Globe Telecom and the Philippine Department of Education with the local governments. Text2Teach is a learning package that uses mobile technology to download education videos for Grades 5 and 6 students in remote, hard-to-reach areas. To date, Text2Teach has served over 300,000 students from 1,103 schools, covering 78 cities and municipalities.
“In order to achieve the sustainable development goals, we at the government need to adopt innovative approaches in public service delivery and strengthen the capacities of the communities and stakeholders including local government officials,” added Peñaranda.
Last year, the country adopted the SDGs or officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is an intergovernmental set of aspiration goals with 169 targets.
The Philippines recently participated in CommunicAsia2016 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo in Singapore featuring local startups selected by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology – Information and Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO).
The line-up includes Advanced World Solutions, Inc., GiftIt, Good Meal Hunting, InnoVantage, Launch Garage, MEDIFI, Orchestrack, ProudCloud and TicketBase which showcased creative and innovative solutions in online food marketplace for home-based cooks, TV and radio advertising monitoring and analytics, web development, social gifting, and remote doctor-patient consultation, among others.
“We are excited to again take the lead in the Philippine participation in CommunicAsia2016. We look at CommunicAsia as an excellent venue for highlighting Philippine digital innovations. This year, we featured several Filipino digital startups who we believe will eventually become big players in the region,” said DOST-ICTO Deputy Executive Director Monchito Ibrahim.
For the past two years, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been working closely with DOST-ICTO for the development of the startups and innovation ecosystem in the Philippines. During the APEC 2015 hosting, DTI launched SlingShotMNL which paved way in the gathering and development of startup community among APEC economies. It was then followed by series of dialogues and mentoring dubbed as SlingShot Philippines in April this year.
At present, DTI continues to support the establishment of startup and innovation ecosystem in the Philippines as directed and supported by the eight strategy of the 2015-2017 Philippine Export Development Plan. Recently, it launched an Innovation Hub, a co-workspace situated at the DTI International Building, Makati City. The Innovation Hub under the Negosyo Center Plus operating model offers the budding startups and innovators opportunities for market access and capital, and mentorship.
“We hope that with public-private partnerships, the innovation hubs can really help hasten the startup ecosystem development and catalyze the increase in the number of high growth oriented enterprises that can bring brand Philippines in a global scale,” said DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.
The Philippines has become a leading source of tech startups and talent. Aside from the operations and labor cost savings, it has a young, tech-savvy and highly-educated English-speaking workforce. Philippine universities produce thousands of graduates specializing in engineering and technology annually. Most of them are skilled in app design and programming languages, ensuring a thoroughly capable workforce.
In 2015, the DOST-ICTO launched the Philippine Roadmap for Digital Startups, a collaborative effort between private and public stakeholders. It is aimed at addressing gaps in the startup ecosystem, inspiring techno-preneurship among the locals, and attracting more venture capitalists or angel investors.
“The goal was to go beyond introducing our market-ready startups. We initiated relationships with influencers and decision-makers and shared the role of these startups in enabling digital transformation of businesses,” added Ibrahim.
CommunicAsia attracts global leaders as well as emergent players providing technology and innovations. This year’s show features major tech trends that are the pillars of today and tomorrow’s smart cities and smart enterprises such as Internet of Things, smart technologies, cybersecurity, big data analytics, mobility, TV Everywhere and many more.
The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through Commercial Counsellor Glenn Peñaranda presented at the recent Smart World Negosyo Caravan Program in Singapore, organized by Philippine telco PLDT-Singapore, Philippine Franchise Association and The Global Filipino Investors or TGFI, a community geared to promote financial literacy.
Peñaranda shared the initiatives of the DTI in promoting and fostering among Filipinos an entrepreneurial culture in the Philippines and abroad, by creating an enabling environment for them and helping their businesses become competitive, sustainable and profitable. One of which is the establishment of the Negosyo (Business) Centers across the country. The centers provide a full spectrum of support services needed to encourage growth and development of micro, small and medium enterprises from incubation to export, from business registration assistance to advisory services to monitoring and evaluation.
“The entrepreneurial route will provide more opportunities for wealth creation, employment and economic growth, that’s why we in DTI have actively been encouraging more Filipinos to consider becoming entrepreneurs,” said Commercial Counsellor Peñaranda.
He discussed various business opportunities in the country, particularly in the agriculture, industry and services sectors and tapping the large market of domestic consumers with increasing incomes. He advised would-be entrepreneurs to keep an eye on new areas of growth as new prospects emerge.
The caravan also played host to several franchise options. DTI promotes franchising as a business model specifically in the food industry given its phenomenal growth. Sixty percent of the franchise concepts in the Philippines are in the food segment.
Peñaranda urged visitors and returnees as well to support Philippine businesses by patronizing their products and services and sharing the Filipino brand and experience abroad.
Outside the Philippines, Filipinos can connect with the DTI-Foreign Trade Service Corps for trade preferences, commercial intelligence and introduction to importers and buyers. The DTI-FTSC has a network of 26 Philippine Trade and Investment Centers in major international markets including Singapore.