A pleasant morning to you all!

It is my pleasure to be here virtually to grace the kick-off activity for Project Match. This project addresses the most vital need of most MSMEs today, and that is to have the linkage and access to the appropriate digital solutions and financing for their business needs. And what better way to do that than to match and pair them with startups that provide these services as well as the technology. More importantly, linking them with financing institutions is a good way for their businesses to realize their plans for growth and expansion that have been cut off by the pandemic.

I congratulate and thank Startup Village and USAID for organizing this win-win arrangement that will help all those involved. Apart from digital solutions, the participation of potential mentors, clients, partners, and investors in this platform would surely help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) transform and adapt to the new normal, eventually overcoming every limitation brought by the health crisis.

Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) participation in this project together with our different partners from the government such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), as well as private organizations such as QBO Philippines, Ideaspace, and Impact Hub Manila truly makes this a fitting demonstration of how private-public partnership eventually wins the war against COVID-19 on behalf of the small businesses that suffered. Not to mention the potential contribution of the huge network of communities linked to these organizations.

Our common denominator is that we all recognize MSMEs to be a major driver of our country’s economic growth, contributing employment and generating output for the economy. A report by the United Nations Philippines (2020) noted that MSMEs comprise 99.5% of business establishments in the Philippines and are employing approximately 63% of the country’s workforce.

This was echoed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte when he described MSMEs during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) as being vital to “economic activity, job creation, and poverty reduction”. Thus, you can rest assured of the President’s full support as he always has the MSMEs in his heart—from the seller at the palengke or on the sidewalk, to the karinderya stall owner—he wants to help them all.

This is also a vital part of our mandate at DTI. Thus, apart from DTI-Laguna’s #BITS or Boosting Innovation and Technology Start-up Initiative, we have also rolled out digitalization programs like the CTRL BIZ: REBOOT NOW Project that will help MSMEs expand their business from offline to online, and onboard them to virtual marketplaces.

Even prior to the pandemic, we have been pushing for smarter MSMEs. Smarter in the sense that they are driven by continuous innovations and continuous creativity. This is the kind of entrepreneurs we have envisioned for the country because that is how they can come up with higher value products and more innovative services. I know that the groups represented here agree that this is the kind of business sector and entrepreneurs we should have in the country.

With this kind of approach in development, full of vision towards innovation and creativity, certainly that is where our country will be heading.

We at DTI are excited at the prospect of MSMEs and startups eventually leading the growth of the economy as the country recuperates health-wise.

Again, congratulations to Startup Village for this successful project launch. May you have a fruitful matching activity. Maraming salamat and more power to our entrepreneurs! ♦

Date of Release: 16 September 2021