‘Access to money, markets crucial to MSME recovery’

MICRO, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have been among the companies hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and their support in the recovery is vital to the country’s economic recovery.

Go Negosyo founder Jose Maria “Joey” Concepcion 3rd believes growing MSMEs – which the Commerce Department estimates provide over 60 percent of jobs in the country – will create more jobs.

“Now more than ever, access to money, markets and mentoring will be critical to MSMEs’ recovery from the pandemic,” he told the Manila Times.

Concepcion, who leads the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) employment group, outlined the three elements underpinning the small business programs of the nonprofit organization Go Negosyo.

“These three elements form the pillar of our advocacy and are at the heart of our ongoing programs with the Departments of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture: the Kapatid Mentor Me and Kapatid Agri Mentor Me programs, respectively,” he said.

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Go Negosyo continued to run these programs throughout the pandemic, supplementing in-person mentoring events with virtual platforms or limiting the number of participants.

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“As Covid cases became more manageable, we resumed our monthly in-mall mentoring program, the 3M on Wheels, to reach active and aspiring entrepreneurs,” Concepcion said.

“The event is a chance for them to get free one-on-one mentoring from successful entrepreneurs, in addition to a ‘Puhunang Pang-negosyo’ that we’re giving away to lucky attendees to start or expand their own small business,” he added.

During the pandemic, Concepcion said they have “intensified the ‘Go Nego Show,’ our weekly live Facebook show that reaches Filipinos across the Philippines — and sometimes even abroad — and teaches them how to be entrepreneurs.”

“Our focus now is to encourage the integration of small and medium-sized enterprises into the value chain of large companies through our Kapatid Angat Lahat program. We started this initiative in 2016 and we are now taking it further to emphasize agriculture and digitization, which I believe will be important to achieve inclusive development,” he said.

Concepcion noted that many MSMEs have benefited from digitalization, particularly through delivery apps and fintech solutions.

“And because we recognize that we should continue to balance health and economy as we move toward the end of the pandemic, we will continue to engage and encourage dialogue between the public and private sectors as we transition to normal through regular… organizing town meetings,” he added.

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To further advance the MSME agenda, Go Negosyo will continue to work on programs that promote business facilitation.

“Our goal is to drive and support strategies that make it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to start their business and give them additional opportunities as z grows,” said Concepcion.

“Go Negosyo will also drive digitization among MSMEs as this creates a level playing field that allows them to participate and compete,” he added.

MSMEs were included in PSAC’s five job creation proposals presented to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in August. Marcos stressed that there should be cooperation between the Ministry of Labor and MSMEs.

“We’re trying to find ways for government and the private sector to work together and make the most of the country’s valuable human resources,” Concepcion said.

“We are pretty much in agreement on our recommendations on jobs, skills development, review of labor laws to create more harmony between work and industry and not too much government in this sector,” he added.

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“Here, Go Negosyo works with the business associations and the government to help our MSMEs to grow. Mentoring, access to money and market access are key.”

Job creation and the health of the economy go hand in hand, Concepcion continued.

“That is why during the pandemic we have been pushing for solutions such as testing, vaccination and now booster shots for the over 50s. We must protect our economic frontliners; the vaccines are more useful in their arms than in storage. We believe this protection will be crucial to keep the economy going,” he said.

“We must maintain our immunity wall. We cannot afford movement restrictions, not now that our debt has reached 12.68 trillion pesos, and by the end of the year it could be more than 13 trillion pesos,” Concepcion added.

“Our focus now is to encourage the integration of small and medium-sized enterprises into the value chain of large companies through our Kapatid Angat Lahat program. We started this initiative in 2016 and we are now taking it further to emphasize agriculture and digitization, which I believe will be important to achieve inclusive development,” says Joey Concepcion, Founder of Go Negosyo.

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