Former DTI chief joins MSME startup

Former Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez

With his known passion for micro, small, and medium enterprise during his stint as the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Ramon Lopez has formally joined Packworks, a local startup that provides a business-to-business open platform to sari-sari stores, as a member of its Board of Advisors.

Joining Packworks’ Board of Advisors aside from Lopez are top business executives Angkas founder Angeline Tham; ZQR Corp. founder and CEO Simon Paterno; and Integrated Microelectronics CEO and Vice Chairman Arthur Tan.

Lopez, who chaired DTI institutions such as the Board of Investments, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the Export Development Council, Anti-Red Tape Authority Advisory Council, Philippine International Trading Corp., Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, and the Halal Board, will draw on his experiences in the trade sector to further push his advocacy in supporting MSMEs that provide development and ease of doing business to retailers.

“It is my intention, after my stint at the DTI, to pursue my advocacy on MSME development through technology and innovation, to take their business to the next level, and improve their efficiencies,” Lopez said.

“I believe digitalization of MSMEs is a great equalizer, bringing prosperity for all. Packworks is a great business and model aligned with this advocacy. It is a changemaker, improving the lives of others. The success in scaling up the community of MSMEs through digitalization is the success of Packworks. It is an honor to be a part of Packworks, a business with a purpose,” Lopez added.

Packworks’ Sari Superstore App provides a free one-stop app for “sari-preneurs” where they can process their business inventory, bookkeeping, and data collection. The app also offers delivery services for store owners when their supply is low.

“The inclusion of these distinguished leaders in the industry will greatly help us in achieving our goals to provide an open platform not only for our million sari-sari store owners in the country but also other huge brand companies,” said Ibba Bernardo, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Packworks. “Digital inclusion will help the so-called ‘sari-preneurs’ to accelerate their game in the retail industry.”

Packworks announced last August that it had raised $2 million in a seed round. The funding will be used to improve its platform for sari-sari stores, enable the value chain, and empower all stakeholders within the sari-sari ecosystem.

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