DTI chief urges biz owners to go digital

Trade secretary Ramon Lopez

TRADE and Industry secretary Ramon Lopez wants small business owners to shift to digital in order to reach a global audience.

Lopez gave this advice to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) during the “Empowering Philippine SMEs with Digital Tools and Mentorship Opportunities” workshop on June 27 at the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).

The workshop was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the US-ASEAN Business Council in celebration of the International Day for MSMEs. The whole-day event featured trainings from Cisco, FedEx, HP, and Procter & Gamble.

“We need to create a nation of smarter, tech-savvy entrepreneurs,” said Secretary Lopez to address the disparity between the number of MSMEs and their contribution to the economy.

MSMEs account for 99.6 percent of the total number of businesses in the country, while also employing 62.8 percent of the total workforce. However, they only account for 36.5 percent of GDP.

“MSMEs must maximize the use of digital technology as it is a great equalizer, in terms of having more access to product and business model ideas; designs; real time market information and trends; entrepreneurship principles and teachings; microfinancing thru fintech (financial technology); innovative products and processes; financial literacy; and market access.  Digital technology is a must to every entrepreneur”, Lopez added.

In line with this, the trade chief shared initiatives to help business owners in this digital transition:

PTTC now an MSME Academy

Lopez declared that the Philippine Trade Training Center, an attached agency of the DTI, had been turned into a Global MSME Academy last April 18. The academy will be more inclusive and will focus on modules for MSMEs, especially on digital technology.  PTTC was originally established for medium and large exporters.

Online Mentoring

On the ASEAN front, the ASEAN SME Academy is an online resource that provides free modules on finance, human resources, management, marketing, operations, technology, and logistics. Two of the most popular courses are “Boost Your Business with Facebook” and “Social Media Marketing.” DTI is also taking the steps to bring its mentoring sessions online, with Secretary Lopez saying: “We want to give them access to mentoring 24/7.”

Loans and Market Access

DTI’s Go Lokal! concept store tied up with ecommerce platforms to have online selling access.  Meanwhile, DTI SBCorporation also partnered with online lending platforms to manage the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag asenso (P3), a microfinancing program initiated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as an alternative to “5-6” lenders.

4th MSME Summit

DTI is also gearing up for the 4th MSME Summit with the theme “Accelerating 7Ms for Developing MSMEs 4.0” in Clark, Pampanga on July 10./PN

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