DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) pushed for the adoption of digital strategies and utilization of e-commerce to assist the recovery of small business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at the virtual Pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Forum of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Cabinet Clusters (EDC-IC) on 8 July 2020.

“Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need stronger market and financial access in order to prosper. Our main goal is to not only provide loans and capital, but also help MSMEs migrate online through the use of digital platforms in marketing their products,” said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

In preparation for the 5th SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte, the country’s chief economic managers and infrastructure officials discussed the Administration’s efforts on regaining momentum and accelerating recovery amid the challenges that the Philippines is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For DTI’s part, Secretary Lopez highlighted several DTI-initiated programs to support small businesses, especially small online businesses, which have been growing and thriving during this time of the pandemic.

Among those discussed was “CTRL + Biz Reboot Now!”, a series of free Webinars aimed at providing MSMEs information on transforming their business digitally. Partners across the entire e-commerce ecosystem have provided their expertise and experiences on how to take advantage of the digital space and the utilization of effective financial technology.

DTI has held two series of online seminars for a total of 23 sessions and with a total reach of 517,300 attendees. In addition, the trade chief mentioned partnerships with major online platforms, such as Shopee and Lazada, to guide online businesses in navigating the e-commerce platform.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) microfinancing program of the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) offers loans at 0% interest rate that are payable in 18-24 months. To date, SB Corp has received a total of 23,448 accounts amounting to Php3.2 B. Of these, 1,994 applications worth Php152.4 M have been approved. DTI expects the release of Php500.0 M loans by mid-July and the full Php1.0 B fund by the end of the month.

“The MSME sector is the backbone of the Philippine economy and comprises 99% of businesses in the country. As such, as we recover from the pandemic, instead of just adapting to the ‘New Normal’, we should create a ‘Better Normal’,” said Sec. Lopez

He reiterated: “We must save MSMEs to save jobs. We must generate income that brings back demand, demand that attracts more production and service activities. This is the way to restart the economy.” ♦

Date of Release: 9 July 2020