Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

Thank you, Google Philippines, for helping and sustaining our Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through initiatives like today’s Caravan.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has always believed digitalization as a great equalizer that levels the business playing field between enterprises big and small. That’s why in 2019, DTI and Google collaborated on digitalizing businesses with the goal of upskilling MSMEs via digital skills training and familiarization of their Google MyBusiness program.

To date, DTI and Google’s collaboration has resulted in 13,000 local businesses listed in Google Maps, which boosts their business visibility in the digital age. We hope to populate Google Maps with more local businesses with the help of our 1,149 Negosyo Centers nationwide to ensure that we leave no business behind.

When COVID-19 struck and months of quarantine affected our country’s economy, many of our people faced adversity with resiliency by setting up their own businesses. From March up until October 15 of this year, there was a 45% increase in Business Name (BN) registrations, a total of 535,342 registrations as compared to 369,899 registrations in the same period last year.

But as we reopen the economy, businesses have been allowed to reopen on a limited scale and with stringent quarantine measures. With no actual place to sell their products, it is now more crucial than ever that MSMEs harness available digital technologies. But as we adjust to the “New Normal,” we need to take advantage of creating a “Better Normal” by accelerating the digitalization of MSMEs.

I would like to point out that Filipinos are prolific internet users. In a report released by We Are Social, the number of Filipino internet users has more than tripled to 73M in 2020 from 23M in 2010. Thus, for those businesses that have taken the digital step forward, there is a huge online market waiting to be tapped.

Google Philippines has also been supportive of DTI’s efforts to help MSMEs survive the economic challenges of the present pandemic. For example, Google was one of the enabling partners of DTI”s CTRLBIZ: REBOOT NOW! since this project began. They’ve also provided resource persons to talk about various topics and share online tools available in Google MyBusiness and Google Trends. What’s more, Google has provided DTI ad credits until the end of 2020 as part of their ad grants crisis relief program.

Through our eCommerce Office, DTI has been working with Google in verifying establishments and enabling small businesses to manage their listings. Google also participated during the consultative sessions for our Philippine e-Commerce Roadmap 2022. This Roadmap envisions a country where MSMEs are able to fully participate in the digital economy.

On a last note, DTI eCommerce Office commissioned research firm STRAND-Asia to conduct a baseline survey covering our MSMEs to determine their level of digitization and how that compares with ASEAN data. Given the digital profile of MSMEs based on the survey, we envision our e-Commerce Roadmap to encourage MSMEs to use ICT tools and social media to improve business operations.

They also need to engage in e-commerce initiatives by partnering with reliable platform providers, logistics services and payment gateways. More importantly, MSMEs should embrace the culture of innovation to ensure continuous improvement and development, while making full use of government’s programs.

To conclude, digitalization initiatives like Google’s MSME Caravan will help our entrepreneurs recover from the economic effects brought about by the pandemic. It is these public-private sector collaborations that showcase the same Bayanihan spirit that has been helping our country rise from the shadow of COVID-19.

Working together, we will build a more inclusive and innovative post-COVID future that will give our people a better quality of life as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Together, we heal as one. Together, we recover as one.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat.♦

Date of Release: 22 October 2020