As President Duterte reports his achievements in his final State of the Nation Address (SoNA) today, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is proud to say that it has provided business opportunities to Filipino micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) with substantial livelihood programs, even making them embrace digitization especially when the pandemic hit the country last year.
As provided by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez to the Daily Tribune, one of the monumental legacies that the DTI has ushered to Filipino MSME is the massive support to the masses by way of livelihood kits and micro-financing through its lending arm Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.).
Since July 2016, the DTI has cumulatively assisted 4.21 million clients, of which 2.05 million are MSME through 1,202 Negosyo Centers established nationwide.
These Negosyo Centers champion the ease of doing business, bringing business development services closer to MSME in the countryside.
The “Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso (P3)” has also revolutionized micro-financing scheme in the country by providing underprivileged microentrepreneurs a loan facility that is accessible, cheap, and with minimum approval requirements, and an interest rate of 2 to 2.5 percent compared to the 20 percent interest of 5-6 lending schemes that have burdened small business owners.
Since its launch in 2017, P3 has reached 219,568 MSME and released a total of P8.65 billion loans, as of 14 June this year.
Part of this microfinancing initiative is the provision of priority loans amounting to P34.37 million to the 453 beneficiaries of Marawi soldiers who were either killed-in-action or wounded-in-action.
During the pandemic, the Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program has been providing soft loans worth P988.30 million to 14,820 entrepreneurs, as a direct response to Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Bayanihan 1) funded through the P3 fund.
While under the P10 billion allocation from RA 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), DTI, through the SB Corp., has already released P2.92 billion worth of loans to 12,802 entrepreneurs, where P140.14 million went to 353 applicants under the tourism sector through the CARES for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood.
Furthermore, to address the urgent need for livelihood of displaced overseas Filipino workers, DTI has released P25.96 million loan assistance to 488 repatriated OFW to start or sustain their businesses through the Helping the Economy Recover thru OFW Enterprise Start-Ups.
Go Lokal, OTOP
Another way to help MSME in showcasing modern and indigenous quality products is the establishment of Go Lokal concept stores.
Though 137 out of the 144 Go Lokal physical retail stores remain open during the pandemic, the DTI also partnered with Shopinas and Lazada to provide an online platform for Go Lokal! Products.
While for its One Town, One Product, the DTI established a total of 62 OTOP Philippines Hub where the 25,498 products developed and improved through the OTOP Next Generation program are provided with free retail space.
During the pandemic, the DTI also provided online channels and market access platforms for OTOP products through its partnerships with PLDT’s KaAsenso program and Pilipinas Shell.
As Lopez said that the silver lining of the current pandemic to MSME was when they embrace digitization in order to cope up with the current contagion, by means of accessing e-commerce platforms.
This is by means of various interventions, such as Pivot Embrace Technology Project, e-Commerce Philippines 2022 Roadmap, Virtual National and Regional Trade Fairs, CTRL + BIZ: Reboot Now, “Reboot Package for Online Enterprises”, Go Digital ASEAN, Connecting Women to Digital Economy, “ETAAS ang Pinay MSMEs Program.”
Despite the pandemic, business registration recorded an unprecedented increase, as many small entrepreneurs were encouraged to start a business.
In 2020 alone, online businesses jumped to 88,485 even as it started the year with only 1,700 (January to March), prior to the imposition of enhanced community quarantine on 15 March 2020.
A total of 586,839 business registration transactions were recorded from January to June 2021, up 15 percent from the same period last year, a testament to the success of DTI’s MSME campaigns to fire up the Filipinos’ entrepreneurial spirit.
Also, the migration of business registration to the digital platform was part of the government’s ultimate push for ease of doing business particularly outlined in Republic Act 11032, which provides for the creation of a single portal to make business transactions easier and faster, such as the Central Business Portal (CBP).
The CBP serves as a single site that would streamline business registration, renewal of permits, and other activities through online transactions.
As of 17 June 2021, 1,937 users have already signed up in the CBP, with 158 applications for registration approved.
While the DTI now has 1,202 physical locations of Negosyo Centers nationwide, the Negosyo Center Online Portal Project was launched last 1 June 2021 to bring Negosyo Center services in a digital platform and promote the digitalization of MSME.