29 July 2019

Published also in Business Mirror

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), as chairman of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council (MSMEDC), staged this year’s National MSME Summit on July 16, 2019, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Pasay City, to showcase vital and game-changing whole-of-government policy reforms, programs, and initiatives to empower and build revolutionary Filipino entrepreneurs.

Driven by the government’s strong desire to encourage innovation among MSMEs, the summit’s theme—“Inclusive and Sustainable Innovations for Globally Competitive MSMEs”—underscored the need to develop MSMEs and young entrepreneurs by equipping them with the values, skills and entrepreneurial spirit necessary for their businesses to succeed in the digital economy.

“We attribute our country’s undeniable economic growth and success to the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of the MSME sector, which plays a significant role in reducing poverty and achieving inclusive growth,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said during the summit.

The DTI chief noted that data gathered from the local government units (LGUs), through the Philippine Business Registry (PBR), indicated that there are about 1.5 million registered enterprises in the country.

“We need to encourage all MSMEs to innovate. I remember very simply—anything new to a firm is innovation, anything new to the world is invention. We call on MSMEs to explore novel ideas, business models, transform from traditional to digital,” DTI-Regional Operations Group (ROG) Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said.

The Philippines is currently considered one of Asia’s economic bright spot, with an average gross domestic product growth average of over 6 percent. The country has also been given high investment grade ratings of “BBB+”—highest ever, notch lower “A” rating from international credit rating agencies. And,  as of April 2019, the country’s unemployment rate slid down to 5.1 percent and underemployment was at a record-low of 13.5 percent.

In line with the vision of President Duterte to provide better and comfortable lives for all Filipinos, Lopez highlighted various MSME programs under the seven-point strategy essential for MSME development—mindset, mastery, mentoring, markets, money, machines and models—that are focused and targeted to benefit those at the bottom of the pyramid, and aimed to help ordinary people succeed and prosper in life.

The midterm mark of the Duterte administration gave birth to the DTI’s groundbreaking initiatives for MSMEs: Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) which provides an easy access and no collateral microfinancing fund for Pinoy entreps; Kapatid Mentor ME (KMME) Program which give way to a massive campaign for entrepreneurship development producing confident entrepreneurs with the right mindset and business know-how; Go Lokal! which mainstreams MSME products without incurring the high cost of operating a retail outlet; and the recently launched Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay (NSB) to bring DTI services to the grassroots.

Lopez added, “The MSME development is the embodiment of our President’s “Tapang at Malasakit” program to help lift more of our countrymen out of poverty, and bring long overdue economic development to all the parts of our country. By accelerating the 7Ms strategy for MSME development, I am confident that our economic priority agenda to achieve inclusive growth and shared prosperity for all will bring into sharper focus the areas of higher importance and greater impact for our MSMEs.”

The summit was graced by Madam Honeylet Avanceña who reiterated the Duterte administration’s full support to MSMEs and commitment to further advance entrepreneurship in the country, especially in the countryside.

Attended by more than 1,000 participants from the ranks of entrepreneurs, tech startups, academe, business experts, mentors, and enablers, the Summit provided immense opportunities to exchange knowledge and insights from starting a business to preparing for the challenges ahead in today’s globally competitive business environment.