The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is working to launch an e-commerce platform geared for small businesses in the Philippines, which will allow them to grow into medium or large enterprises and increase their contribution to the country's economy.
In his speech during the recent SME Financial Empowerment Program Launch, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual highlighted that the main goal of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to further develop micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
Globally, MSMEs constitute 80 percent of all enterprises. These groups of enterprises in the Philippines account for 99.5 percent of registered enterprises.
"It is a big number out of a total of more than a million enterprises. There are about 5,000 medium enterprises and less than 5,000 large enterprises in the Philippines. The rest, more than a million enterprises are MSMEs or small businesses. They provide employment for 63 percent of our workforce and they contribute to the gross domestic product to the extent of 40 percent," Pascual said.
MSMEs should be treated as digitally driven enterprises, which require enough support on digitalization and innovation, said Pascual. They also need adequate financial and technical support to sell their products and services in the market, he added.
"For them to be able to sell services and products, they need technology. That's one of the three things we will help MSMEs — provide them with technology. Now that we have the technology and ideas, how can we bring them about? They need finance to be able to produce products and services. After that, they need access to the market," Pascual explained.
One of the major projects that the DTI is currently working on is an e-commerce platform geared for small businesses in the Philippines. "Together, these various businesses will constitute a digital shopping mall. Like in a mall, there are areas for certain types of enterprises like restaurants, some in retail, etc. That will also happen digitally," the Trade chief said.
"More than that, this platform will also be the basis for facilitating the granting of finance to MSMEs. As you know, with digital platforms you can digitize data, accumulate them and process them — data analytics," he added.
To allow MSMEs or small businesses to improve and offer innovative products and services, Pascual said the DTI pushed for the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Center, which will study how AI can be employed in businesses in the Philippines, including small businesses, and in the process, facilitate their operation.
Another initiative is the Industry 4.0 pilot factory, which serves as a simulator where processes can be first tested and developed in the center before they are launched in physical terms.
"This is where we have a partner from Europe to help us do this, and we will all be located in an innovation campus that's been put together by major business groups in the country. There would be facilities there, and we will also bring in experts and the existing facilities of the Asian Institute of Management that has taken the lead in offering data science and advanced studies in the country," Pascual said.
Pascual, however, noted that the DTI remains committed to also helping large enterprises, by attracting big investors into the country, particularly investors that will set up businesses that export their products.
"We want these large enterprises to develop a supply chain that will consist of small businesses. If the value chain that will lead to products or the components that will enter the global value chain, there will be a value chain for each company and hopefully, that value chain will involve many of our small businesses," he said.