Pascual to integrate MSME goods via one app

‘NDC is tasked to set up this e-platform and the idea is to have the platform where you can see all the products being produced by small businesses at one glance, you know, products which are not available in Shopee (or Lazada).’

Trade Secretary Fred Pascual. | photograph courtesy of DTI

As he is geared towards digitizing small and medium enterprises, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual reveals that he plans to integrate Filipino products into one mobile application in order to yield more revenues for these MSMEs.

“The ultimate solution for the market, not the ultimate but a step farther, is to enroll them in an e-commerce platform, not Lazada or Shopee immediately, but a national e-commerce platform run by a company through which we are now organizing within DTI,” he said during his interview with the Daily Tribune’s digital lifestyle show Pairfect last Friday.

He said he has already tasked DTI attached agency National Development Company to realize the e-commerce platform.

“The NDC is tasked to set up this platform. And the idea is to have a platform where you can see all the products being produced by small businesses in one glance, you know, products which are not available in Shopee (or Lazada). You cannot search (Shopee or Lazada) for Philippine products as you’ll be overwhelmed by products made in other countries,” he said.

Major part

He said the government will then play a major part in said scheme, as it it will be the one who will buy products from the MSMEs, including farmers’ products.

He cited the example of a coconut milk and juice factory operating in Naga City, which he and the President visited last Thursday. Pascual said the factory directly buys the produce of coconut farmers in the area, ensuring revenues for the coconut farmers.

“Eventually, my goal is to require the government to buy produce from farmers and MSMEs. There is already a law that is requiring the government to locally produce products but there are no means to do it. So, this platform will also become an E-catalog for the government, local government units, and the national government,” he said.

He said that all of these plans need execution.

“My role is really to make sure that what we plan, we execute. So, any plans I have inherited or have come across already exist. The challenge really is implementation. I do not have to come up with new ideas you know, like the same thing that happened to me in UP (University of the Philippines). There were faculty members, and faculty conferences that have identified the problems, and solutions to these problems. But year in and year out, they talk about the same thing, the same problems, the same solutions, but nobody was executing the solutions. So, my main role is to get things implemented,” the former UP President explained.

Digitization is key

To further improve MSMEs, which Pascual said consist of 99.5 percent of total businesses in the country, he said the government’s “blanket” solution remains digitization.

“That’s a way they can connect. A small enterprise by itself will have difficulty surviving, it has to be able to access finance, and digitalization will facilitate that. Because when we are able to track the transactions of a small enterprise, that could be the basis of a loan from Fin Techs. Loans before were being dispensed by moneylenders because the moneylenders can readily go directly to the market vendor to dispense the money in the morning then collect it in the evening. But with digitization, the vendor will no longer have to deal with the moneylender; he will, instead, deal with a FinTech company that will provide them the money, the loans, which they can pay also through an app,” he said.

Further, another solution, he said, is to link MSMEs to bigger businesses “so they can be part of the value and supply chain”

Earlier this month, Go Negosyo formalized its project Kapatid Angat Lahat Agri Program or KALAP, an initiative to harness the private sector to help small farmers across the Philippines, with the signing of memorandums of agreement and memorandums of understanding with several government agencies, namely the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the National Irrigation Administration, Philippine Coconut Authority and the National Tobacco Administration.

The program urges huge corporations, called “Big Brothers,” whether in agriculture or retail, among others, to make MSMEs part of their value chain.

Finally, Pascual said “still another solution is to get them organized in a cluster, just like it’s happening now. There are bamboo clusters, there are coffee clusters, there are chocolate or cacao clusters and then get an investor to set up a facility for them.”

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