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Digitalization is a great equalizer that levels the playing field for large and small business players, the country’s trade chief said at the successful Philippine hosting of the ASEAN 2017 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Summit on 14 July.

Sec Ramon Lopez at #ASEANMSME2017
DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez speaking at the ASEAN 2017 MSME Development Summit.

“Through innovation and digitalization, we are confident that MSMEs can leapfrog their status as globally-competitive enterprises, thus benefitting everyone in ASEAN,” said ASEAN Economic Ministers chairman and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

He explained that adopting a business model that considers processes and systems innovation, including the integration of digital strategies and e-commerce in market operations is a big growth enabler for MSMEs.

While continuing the efforts to enhance the country’s foreign trade and investments, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) maintains its solid attention on developing MSMEs as backbone of the economy and as the prime mover of both domestic and regional growth.

Sec. Lopez expressed President Rodrigo Duterte’s desire to widen the gains of the ASEAN Economic Integration, as well as considered the Summit “the result of the shared vision to make growth truly inclusive and felt by the people.”

“Making growth felt by everyone can only happen if we are successful in empowering the bottom of the pyramid. In the realm of business, we must effectively tap the potential of our MSMEs, which form a significant part in our region’s growth resurgence,” he said.

According to him, there must be an effective enabling ecosystem with strategic imperatives at the regional level to upgrade the capabilities of MSMEs in ASEAN.

“Teaching them how to fish is the real solution to fight poverty,” Sec. Lopez added.

“If we talk of upgrading competencies, simply put, we want to make smarter entrepreneurs. For this to happen, the watchword is innovation, as showcased by the demonstrated capacity of many of our MSMEs in the ASEAN region,” he said.

The Summit noted that while MSMEs comprise about 95-99% of all business establishments, they still do not account for a commensurate output share in terms of Gross Domestic Product and exports.

As the ASEAN Economic Community creates opportunities and challenges for MSMEs in the region, the need for MSMEs to retool and upgrade to maximize their participation in the local and value chains has become even more imperative.

To this end, the Philippines pursued its seven-point strategic framework or 7Ms to help ASEAN entrepreneurs start up, sustain, expand and internationalize their own businesses to make them smarter. The 7Ms refer to Mindset, Mastery, Mentoring, Markets, Money, Machines and Models.

The Manila Call to Action on the 7Ms for ASEAN MSME Development, which was adopted on 14 July took into account recommendations from the Summit.

In a bid to unite ASEAN for the empowerment of the region’s MSMEs, the Summit underscored the steadfast commitment to make the sector a vital engine in realizing the aspired-for regional prosperity.

With the theme 7Ms Toward Shared Prosperity in ASEAN, the Summit gathered some of the thought leaders in the business community, MSME advocates, representatives from ASEAN Governments, as well as business mentors and experts on marketing strategies and communications, planning and execution.

Shares 7Ms towards shared prosperity in ASEAN


The Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), continues to advance the promotion and development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the ASEAN region through the “ASEAN MSME Development Summit” on 14 July.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez speaking at the ASEAN 2017 MSME Development Summit on 14 July at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).


Under the Summit’s theme “7Ms Towards Shared Prosperity in ASEAN,” the Philippines laid out a seven-point strategy essential for MSME development—mindset, mastery, mentoring, markets, money, machines, and models—which the country wants the region to adopt to advance the ASEAN economic agenda of shared prosperity.

The Summit gathered representatives from the private sector, civil society, and ASEAN governments to develop new ideas and identify areas of improvement to successfully place MSMEs in the vanguard of the ASEAN Economic Community’s (AEC) drive to achieve inclusive growth.

“The Philippines has been in the forefront of providing substantive initiatives toward establishing MSMEs at the core of the ASEAN economic agenda. We want to elevate discussions and provide the right information on how we can further assist them to support our goal of achieving inclusive growth in ASEAN,” said ASEAN Economic Ministers chairman and DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The development of MSMEs is integral to sustaining the economic development in ASEAN since MSMEs comprise most of the businesses in the region’s aggregate regional economy, accounting for over 90 percent of all the domestic firms and 75 to 90 percent of the non-agricultural workforce.

In pushing the MSME agenda, the Philippines seeks to address key challenges in their development and achieving prosperity in the region.

Experts in various fields discussed the seven-point strategy taking into account the challenges that small enterprises face.

Session 1 with Mindset as a theme, provided discussions on how to train and orient entrepreneurs with the right entrepreneurial characteristics and attitude.

Sessions 2 and 3 on Mastery and Mentoring, tackled the core principles of entrepreneurship that will equip MSMEs with the necessary competence and effective knowhow to seize gains for their ventures.

Session 4 covered Markets, a key component in the survival of any business. It discussed how markets are made more accessible and the various technologies that can help MSMEs gain traction in the local and international arenas.

Session 5 on Money took a closer look on financing schemes that MSMEs can further explore and access and some key initiatives governments undertake to facilitate access to much needed capital.

Lastly, Session 6 and 7 gave an insight on how access to appropriate Machines and technology, and choosing the right business Models can help upgrade their businesses, boost productivity, and improve marketability of products and services.

“MSMEs comprise the backbone of our economy and thus vital to the country’s growth. With the help of 7Ms, we know MSMEs are a step closer to advancement,” said DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Zenaida Maglaya.

ASEAN government representatives and MSMEs graced the event and expressed full support to the Philippines’ call for greater cooperation in placing the interest of MSMEs at the core of the AEC agenda.

The ASEAN MSME Development Summit was organized by the ASEAN Committee on Business and Investment Promotion (CBIP), which is chaired by the DTI, and the DTI Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED).

The CBIP’s mandate is to organize business and investment promotion activities that will engage the international business community, government, and other concerned parties in the drive to achieve the AEC’s goal of shared prosperity in the ASEAN region.

During the Summit, the Philippines’ DTI also launched “SIKAP: Sipag at Abilidad ng Pilipino,” a coffee table book that showcases success stories of MSMES across the Philippines. It also mounted a Go Lokal! Trade Exhibit, which showcased world-class products of Philippine MSMEs.

The Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017 was formally launched on 15 January at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.” 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) vows to continue its effort of making the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) the front and center of its economic agenda by forwarding initiatives at the regional level through the staging of the “ASEAN MSME Development Summit: The 7Ms Towards a Prosperous ASEAN MSMEs” to be held on 14 July at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The summit will elevate discussions on various aspects of MSME development from developing the right entrepreneurial mindset to providing the appropriate business models to support entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their business and fully take advantage of the regional integration.

As part of the programs under ASEAN Committee on Business and Investments Promotion (CBIP) currently chaired by DTI, the summit aims to gather stakeholders and key players that will support and recommend priority actions in advancing the MSME agenda in the region by increasing trade and investment, integrating MSMEs in the global value chain, and developing an innovation-led economy.

“We hope to share success stories and best practices of MSMEs present in the region. Consequently, we want to share with them on how ASEAN governments and key players from the private sector can help them reap the benefits of the regional integration,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

MSMEs account for over 90% of all the domestic firms in ASEAN member states and 75-90% of the non-agricultural workforce. They continue to assume increased significance in the regional integration process as governments increase MSMEs’ active involvement in various fronts of regional economic activities.

“MSMEs provide the supplier base that supports the success and productivity of multinational enterprises (MNEs). However, they continue to face various hurdles including structural, fiscal and non-fiscal concerns. This is where governments can come in,” explained Secretary Lopez.

In support of an “Inclusive, Innovation-led Growth” for a strong ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the Philippines, through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is conducting today the ASEAN 2017 MSME Development Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Manila, the Philippines.

The Summit will place the interests of MSMEs at the center of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) agenda and putting together the MSME advocates, mentors, enablers and business experts from the ASEAN region who can help develop, handhold, and empower the MSMEs and spread the economic fruits of the AEC dream.

With the theme, “The 7Ms Towards Shared Prosperity in ASEAN,” the DTI aims to gather insights from thought leaders and experts addressing the 7Ms that sum up the elements of the approach and framework for enabling and fostering the MSMEs.

“Through the 7Ms, we’ll empower the MSMEs so they can also share in the benefits of the ongoing economic growth, and improve the quality of their lives by engaging in vibrant entrepreneurial activities,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The seven-point strategy includes Mindset, Mastery, Mentoring, Markets, Money, Machines, and Models of Business. These will equip the entrepreneurs in making a difference in the market while contributing to the larger cause of sustaining the entrepreneurial revolution in ASEAN.

MSMEs are integral to the economic development and growth of the ASEAN region as they outnumber large enterprises in both quantity of establishments and share of the labor force they employ. The ASEAN MSMEs comprise the 95-99% of all business establishments, generating between 51% and 97% of employment. .

“We are advocating the 7Ms of DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in helping the entrepreneurs set up their businesses and be a smarter entrepreneur. And this 2017, in time for the country’s hosting of ASEAN, we want to advance and mainstream the 7Ms in ASEAN region,” said DTI Regional Operations Group (ROG) Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya.

More than 20 caliber speakers and panelists from ASEAN Member States (AMS) will share inspiring and valuable stories of leadership and entrepreneurial journey on various plenary discussions on Promoting MSME Development Mindset, Mastery and Mentoring Toward Competitiveness and Resilience, Accessing Domestic and Regional Markets, Overcoming Money Hurdles, and Machines and Proactive Business Models Toward Productive and Responsive MSMEs.

At the end of the Summit, prominent business takeholders and key players will provide support and recommend priority actions towards helping achieve economic prosperity in the region through MSME development.

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