16 November 2020 via Recorded Message

Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) thanks First Circle Growth Finance Corp. for their continued support of the government’s advocacy to develop our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

In 2018, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with First Circle CEO Mr Patrick Thomas Lynch to provide finance education for our MSMEs. Since then, First Circle has aided DTI by offering financial literacy to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Moreover, they’ve given financial access that amounted to Php4.5B for the period of October 2018 to July 2020, lending loans to more than 6,000 SMEs as well as disbursing more than 16,000 loans. They’ve also shared their financial expertise to our entrepreneurs by participating as guest speaker in DTI activities, and at our Negosyo ATBP DZRH radio show.

The importance of financial inclusion for our country’s MSMEs cannot be understated. While our MSMEs serve as the country’s engine for economic growth and development, they face numerous challenges—including access to finance.

To address this, the government has established a number of policies, ranging from the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 to the MSME Development Plan 2017-2022. The DTI’s 7Ms Framework to Successful Entrepreneurship likewise includes an M for MONEY, or exploring business funding through microfinance or alternative sources.

To this end, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte established the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) microfinance program through the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp) so that our people won’t have to resort to onerous loans given by informal lenders. On DTI’s part, our Negosyo Centers nationwide offer key training programs on financial literacy even as our business counsellors have the capacity to provide the said training.

By integrating financial literacy with our entrepreneurship programs, we can educate our MSMEs on the true costs of credit and help them become responsible borrowers as they enact sound financial decisions. This, in turn, will empower them as they address the challenges of access to finance. As our MSMEs grow and flourish, they then create more jobs and employment that will benefit our countrymen.

Thus, we consider this renewal of the MOU not only beneficial for our MSMEs, but also opportune, given that many of our businesses have been affected by the economic effects of the global pandemic.

Fortunately, many of our countrymen have shown their resiliency despite COVID-19 by adapting to the “New Normal.” From March up until the 15th of October of this year, despite the pandemic, there was a 45% increase in Business Name (BN) registration totalling to 535,342 registrations as compared to 369,899 registrations in the same period last year. What’s more, businesses

engaged in online selling registered for the period of March 15 to October 25 of this year numbered 81,981, jumping from 1,753 for January to March 15.

Sa aking pagtatapos, nais namin muling pasalamatan ang First Circle, at umaasa po kami na patuloy naming maaasahan ang inyong kooperasyon para matulungan ang ating MSMEs. Ang ating pagtutulungan ay nagpapakita lamang ng kahalagahan ng kolaborasyon sa pagitan ng public and private sectors, sa pagtulong sa ating mga mamamayan. Ito rin ay nagpapatibay ng tunay na Filipino Bayanihan Spirit, na kinakailangan sa pagbangon ng ating bansa patungo sa more inclusive, post-COVID future.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.♦

Date of Release: 23 November 2020