2 February 2021 via Zoom


Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. First, we would like to thank our partners—USAID, the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), and the private technology sector—for collaborating with us on the Connecting Women Entrepreneurs to the Digital Economy(or CWEDE) program.

The virtual ceremonial signing of the multi-partite partnership for the CWEDE program last July 1 was timely as this program is presently helping us to build back better Filipino communities. Thanks to this program, our resilient Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are now hard at work, upskilling, and adapting new technologies to grow and expand their businesses under the “New Normal” of the pandemic.

This optimism can also be felt with the recent national survey of the 2021 business outlook indicating that 42% of Filipinos expect the local economy to be in better shape in the next 12 months. While our GDP for 2020 was at -9.5%, there is continued improvement on the following quarters, from -16.5% in the second quarter of last year to -11.5% in the third quarter and -8.3% in the fourth quarter. Quarter on Quarter, GDP grew +8% (2nd to 3rd QTR) and 5.6% on 3rd to 4th QTR. We also have lowered the unemployment rate to 8.7% in October 2020 from a record-high of 17.7% in April. That translate to close to 4 million people back to their jobs in 6-month period, April to October 2020.

Likewise, our Philippine Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased from 49.2 in December 2020 to 52.5 in January, posting above the 50.0 neutral mark separating expansion from contraction. This is the highest in 25 months, even before the pandemic, and signals improving manufacturing conditions and indicating the start of recovery of the sector.

These indicate our whole-of-government approach to implement our REBUILD PH strategy—which stands for “Revitalizing Businesses, Investments, Livelihoods, and Domestic Demand”—is helping us to recharge our economy despite the pandemic.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also remains committed to aiding our MSMEs, which is why we have implemented various policies, programs, and projects to stimulate economic activities. These would support businesses—especially our MSMEs—continue their operations to keep jobs and employment, which would ensure income for our people.

The importance of keeping our MSMEs afloat during the pandemic cannot be understated, given that they serve as our country’s economic backbone. What’s more, women entrepreneurs—who represent a third of the MSME base—have been leading the way in transforming challenges to opportunities through innovation.

This is because the CWEDE program—with its aim of shifting women entrepreneurs to online selling and digital payments—was able to take advantage of the rapid acceleration of the digital economy during the present health crisis. As such, our women entrepreneurs have answered the call of the changing times and have become true agents of innovation and change. In the past year, they have brought the benefits of the digital economy across the 17 regions of our country, and have contributed to rebuilding livelihoods. And as the Philippines re-opens its economy to create a “Better Normal,” many of our growing local businesses will now be attuned to the digital world.

Thus, we celebrate today the program’s positive gains and the sustainable fruits of this collaborative effort as we scale up and sustain the momentum of our recovering economy. We are also grateful to hear the many stories from the regional offices demonstrating the creativity and resourcefulness of Filipinos.

In closing, this project has empowered our organizations and women entrepreneurs with the digital knowledge and skills to succeed under a challenging environment. It also highlights the concept of Bayanihan—the spirit of communal unity and cooperation—which is stronger than ever, as our enterprises learn from the best industry experts and practitioners.

Through our combined efforts, we will empower our women entrepreneurs in carving a space for themselves in the digital market even as we level the playing field. As Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, once said: “If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.”

As our MSMEs break down the barriers to accessing digital markets, they will contribute to rebuilding a more sustainable livelihood for your families and communities. This is in line with our pursuit of a shared vision by 2040, of Filipinos enjoying a greater quality of life as promised by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Mabuhay tayong lahat at maraming salamat po!

Date of Release: 2 February 2021