Manila, through the Department of Trade and Industry’s Foreign Trade Service Corps (DTI-FTSC) recently joined Business Partner City (BPC) discussion to help promote bilateral and multilateral economic cooperation and boost the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Asia-Pacific region.

Participated in by 15 member cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Mumbai, Melbourne, Tianjin, Osaka, Jakarta, Aukland and Ho Chi Minh City, the BPC aimed to discuss measures in boosting the development and support services through business interactions for industries and small enterprises within the region.

Foreign Trade Officer Mario Tani discussed opportunities in the Philippines as well as the sustainability of the country’s unprecedented growth amidst a new administration. “The Philippine government is focused on achieving inclusive growth through a number of breakthrough programs focusing on SME development,” said Tani.

SMEs are considered to be an important economic growth driver for the Philippines as they comprise over 90% of the total number of establishments in the country. They are seen to be primary stimulator of domestic demand through employment generation, competition, and innovation. DTI, as the lead agency for economic development, sees the critical role of SMEs in achieving inclusive growth.

One of the forwarded initiatives of the Philippine government in supporting SMEs is the establishment of the Startup Ecosystem Development Program (SEDP). Targeted at startups and innovation entrepreneurs, SEDP aims to usher in a new breed of enterprises by enhancing the business environment conducive for growth and development of startup businesses.

Key immediate response to the growing sector of startup and innovation entrepreneurs in the Philippines is the establishment of the QBO Innovation Hub under the Negosyo Center Plus model of DTI. As a flagship initiative of DTI to encourage entrepreneurship in the country and to support small businesses, the over 290 Negosyo Centers across the country at present are equipped with materials and resource supports that will assist entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. It also helps in addressing frequent concerns on how to avail government-initiated programs, trainings, seminars and business matching activities.

QBO Innovation Hub, which is located in DTI International Building in Makati City offers a wide range of support services including free ideation sessions open to startups on Tuesdays.

BPC, on its establishment, aims to create opportunities for SMEs to establish links with their counterparts in the network.