Ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning to you all.

First of all, allow me to thank the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) for inviting us to speak at the “Business Without Borders: Uplifting Philippine SMEs and eRetail” Its goal of “Creating Global Runways for our Pinoy MSMes through Digital and Cross Border Cooperation” is indeed very timely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sometime before this entire pandemic, PTTC had met the team of Sopnendu Mohanty of the Monetary Authority of Singapore to discuss a program designed for SMEs called Business Sans Borders where we talked about the pain points of the MSMEs globally.  We are happy to see the fruition of this project with our champions for MSMEs—both PTTC and the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), together with Digital Pilipinas. This program is intended to enable at least 5,000 Pinoy SMEs and e-Retailers this year to trade beyond our borders and equip them with the necessary skills needed.

In the wake of the health crisis, we have seen more and more MSMEs shift to e-commerce platforms in order for their businesses not only to stay afloat but to thrive and prosper. Since mid-March 2020 when lockdowns were first imposed in the country, we have recorded more than 109,345 business name registrations for online businesses.

Despite the immense impact of the pandemic to our businesses, we are fully confident in the adaptability of our local businesses. Sitting at a demographic sweet spot of 25.7 years old, our young population not only is able to learn quickly, but also very tech-savvy and tech-oriented amid a rapidly-expanding digital world. Not only this, we have high mobile phone connections at 152 million and 138% mobile penetration, making the Philippines the social media capital of the world with 89 million active social media users.

As of January this year, according to the Global Social Media Use Ranking, the Philippines ranked 6th in Facebook, 10th in YouTube, 11th in Twitter and 18th in Instagram, and all these numbers present a very strong potential to be converted into e-commerce transactions. Manila also joins other Asian cities on the list of 30 top startup ecosystems in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) released in 2021. This number can only grow as the country gets to implement more public and private investments in digital superhighways and infrastructures. 

Likewise, just the other day, we spoke at the launch of Google’s Economic Impact in the Philippines Report where it was reported that digital transformation could create up to Php5 trillion in annual economic value by 2030. That’s about 25% size of the Philippine economy.

Here in DTI, we have numerous programs that can assist our MSMEs in their digital journey to become global. These include capacity-building and training workshops that are readily available online, offered by our hardworking team at PTTC, as well as in the different regional offices. You may also get advice on how to start your own business from our Business Counsellors from over more than 1,200 Negosyo Centers, scattered across all regions in the country.

For those wanting to set-up a small sari-sari store business, DTI provides livelihood kits of retail goods to help you kickstart your journey. And for our MSMEs who already have over a year of experience in running their business and need extra financial assistance, we have the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES program of DTI’s microfinancing arm, the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp). The CARES program offers loans with no collateral requirement, at zero interest rate, and with a grace period of up to 12 months, thus helping businesses get back on their feet.

These are just among the many programs that DTI has to offer as we show our continued commitment in assisting our MSMEs in every step of their entrepreneurial journey. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte echoed this concern for MSMEs during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) when he described MSMEs as being vital to “economic activity, job creation, and poverty reduction”. Thus, you can be confident of the President’s full support as he always has the MSMEs in his heart—from the tech-savvy online local business to the eager and aspiring entrepreneur—he wants to help them all.

Once again, congratulations to PTTC in the virtual launch ng Business Without Borders and thank you to all our partners from the private sector. To the entrepreneurs here with us today, we wish you all the best in your adventure as you go global!

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat!

Date of Release: 21 October 2021