24 January 2018

also published on Business Mirror

To continue the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) programs to develop micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the government has set aside P2 billion to aid entrepreneurs and create an entrepreneurial revolution in the country that will result in more jobs generated for Filipinos.

“We are committed in our goal of providing job opportunities for all Filipinos and uplifting the lives of those at the bottom of the pyramid by strengthening the MSME sector in the country,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group Zenaida Maglaya said the agency will tap P1 billion to continue funding the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) micro-loan program and another P1 billion for the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) equipment-sharing project.

“For the Pondo sa Pagbago at Pag-asenso program, or P3, we were able to get another P1 billion this year on top of the P1 billion last year. We hope to increase the loan packages that we were able to generate,” Maglaya said during the DTI-wide news conference on Monday.

Maglaya said the loan released nationwide under the P3 program reached P1 billion, funding 38,425 beneficiaries with an almost 100-percent re-payment rate.

DTI has funded P820 million worth of loans through the P3 program and assisted 20,425 micro entrepreneurs. In addition, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, a partner of the government in the program, released P230-million loans from its funds for 18,000 micro enterprises.

The flagship microloan program aims to provide alternative micro financing to entrepreneurs, who usually borrow from usurious loan sharks. The program will help negate the “5-6” lending scheme.

Maglaya said the agency is looking to cover all provinces in the country, adding there are still 20 provinces in the country that have to be reached by the program due to lack of local conduits.

The agency will also fund P1 billion for its equipment-sharing facility program SSF to provide MSMEs access to technology, machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system.

Maglaya said the P1 billion will be allocated to the following: P400 million for State Universities and Colleges  and P50 million for the Marawi rehabilitation. The remaining fund will help put up more SSFs and maintain other equipment.

Maglaya also noted the agency has tapped SUCs, through Fabrication Laboratories or Fablabs, to develop more MSMEs and help young entrepreneurs in terms of innovation and prototyping technologies and software for their products and design.

“We’re looking at how SUCs, academe can help in developing and assisting our MSMEs as well as be able to develop young entrepreneurs in schools,” she said.

Fablabs aim to enhance the core competencies of existing manufacturers and emerging entrepreneurs in digitally-enabled manufacturing workflows guided by art and design principles.

Likewise, to hasten the rehabilitation and recovery of war-torn Marawi City, the agency will provide equipment and machinery to affected internally displaced persons (IDPs) to expand the market-reach of Maranao products.

“We’re looking at reviving the industries like weaving, wood working and brassware. We will provide SSFs for our brothers and sisters in Marawi,” Maglaya said.

So far, the agency has established 2,222 SSFs worth P1.188 billion throughout the country, benefitting 215,628 existing and potential MSMEs and providing 111,747 jobs to Filipinos.

With access to better technology and more sophisticated equipment, MSMEs will have higher productivity, better and efficient products, higher levels of innovation and creativity, and improved market access to address the gaps and bottle necks in the global value chain being faced by MSMEs.

Philippine MSMEs account for 99.5 percent of the total number of established businesses and employ 62.8 percent of the country’s workforce, contributing substantially to the country’s manufacturing output and total employment and making them critical engines of economic growth and development.