The economy of the Philippines is currently growing at above 6.8% (as of latest quarter), one of the highest growth rates in the world. Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 70% of total employment, with millennials venturing into entrepreneurship at an increased rate. Manila is home to an estimated number of 400-450 currently active tech startups, and we see this happening in other regions in the Philippines such as Cebu and Davao.

Ambassador Jose Miguel Romualdez and Consul General Henry Bensurto Jr. at the blessing and soft launch of SPARK447 on 22 May 2017.

As highlighted in the 2018 Global Ecosystem Report, the Philippines ecosystem has very good foundations on FINTECH, Enterprise Solutions, AI & Machine Learning. Having said this, our ecosystem is nascent compared to other global ecosystems. We have a lot of catching-up to do. We, therefore, welcome the senate approval of the Innovative Startup Act, bringing it closer to law. DTI and DOST continue to strengthen their collaboration for a seamless transition from ideation to commercialization with the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy or the I3S. DTI also continue to implement the Startup Ecosystem Development Program.

Beyond this, I believe the Philippines has a “special sauce” that will ensure that our startup ecosystem will thrive – that is the Filipino talent in San Francisco and in various cities in the US and around the globe. Filipino talent that is further cultivated through the SPARK-CONNECT-EMPOWER movement “SCE”. The SCE aims to bring together various Filipino-American organizations and individuals with the aim of sparking love of country among the 2nd and 3rd and 4th generation Filipino Americans, connecting them among each other through various networking platforms and ultimately empowering them to organize various activities and programs that contribute to nation building.

It takes a village to raise a startup” – For an ecosystem to be successful, the members of that ecosystem need to have a strong sense of community; foster local relationships; generate collisions (or serendipitously running into others from the startup community); and generate density (how closely startups work with other startups).

The SCE movement allows us to rediscover our heritage and our innate fervor to reach out – the Filipino’s bayanihan spirit. This makes for a strong sense of community and facilitate local relationships. SPARK447, a co-working space at the Philippine Center in San Francisco, provide avenues for collision and density bringing the community in San Francisco closer together. But it doesn’t stop there, it will bring the Filipino tech community in San Francisco closer to our ecosystems in Manila and make change happen.

I will end with another quote I am borrowing from the startup ecosystem jargon “One connection… endless possibilities”. Imagine what we Filipinos can do together.