By Mico Agustin

IF the recent developments in the economic front are to be the gauge, then the Duterte administration’s promise of change is indeed happening.

Credit therefore should be given to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez who has been working tirelessly to effect changes in the lives and livelihood of the people with his innovative and efficient leadership.


Under the Radar

While some of his fellow top officials are basking in the glow of the limelight and controversy, Lopez prefers to operate under the radar while delivering the results desired from him by President Duterte and the people.

Recent reports indicate that businessmen are fully satisfied with his performance thus earning for Lopez their trust and confidence and more importantly their support.


MSMEs Make Strides

And one of the sectors that Lopez is focusing on helping is the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which saw significant strides under the current administration after being practically neglected during the past regimes.

“Sa ngayon in terms of percentage, 99.6 percent na ang dami ng MSMEs compared sa large companies. At napakalaki na ng 35 percent share sa business industry kumpara sa mga nakaraang taon. Malaki na ang ipinagbago ng MSME sector,” Secretary Lopez said.

MSMEs also account for 25% of the country’s total exports revenue, estimating that 60% of all exporters in the country belong to the MSME category.


Economic Engines

Lopez promised that his agency will do all it can to provide help and assistance to MSMEs and help them become successful in their respective businesses.

“We consider MSMEs as the engines of the Philippine economy. They drive businesses, create jobs, and transform the lives of the ordinary Filipinos, it is our job to help and assist them to grow and bloom each of their businesses,” said Lopez.


70 % Increase in Investment Projects

Lopez likewise revealed that despite recent mishaps in the country especially in Mindanao, the good news is that the Philippines remains one of the world’s most preferred investment destinations.

“We are still fortunate despite recent problems in the country. This is because investors are still confident in investing in the country,” said Lopez.

He also announced a 25- percent increase in the value of registered investments for the first five months of the year compared with the same period last year.

The number of investment projects also rose by 70 percent in the January to May 2017 period, from 128 projects to 218, which are all expected to generate at least 51,000 new jobs or an increase of 100 percent in employment generated.

“Maraming nagbubukas na negosyo ngayon, kaya maraming matutulungan lalo na sa mga kababayan nating naghahanap ng trabaho” added Lopez.


Be Smart Entrepreneurs

Lopez also urged MSMEs to be smart entrepreneurs, and follow the examples of a number of other successful entrepreneurs who became successful despite starting with meager capitals.

“They must be ‘smart’ entrepreneurs. They must add value to their products para kumita ng malaki. Say for example, ang ‘rags to riches’ story. ‘Di ba from rags which cost ten pesos, nakakagawa ng bag worth 2,000 pesos,” Lopez pointed out.

With this, the DTI with different MSMEs nationwide recently met to discuss programs and incoming projects to help the sector.


Negosyo Center

One of these programs is the ‘Negosyo Center’, dubbed as the ‘Front and Center of MSME program’ that teaches entrepreneurs the skills needed to maximize their earning potentials.

Also, under this yearly project is the ‘Negosyo Fair’, a week – long event where series of activities are lined up for MSMEs and features different business opportunities for which they can readily go into and for them to learn.

“It is a very good project. Together with different DTI offices nationwide, they gave hope for those people especially in rural areas. It is truly the center of our program for the Micro SMEs,” Lopez noted.

Lopez also promised to have continuous learning programs to different ‘Negosyo Centers’ nationwide and an ‘in house coaching’ for them.

“We will invite volunteers to mentor MSMEs on how to start, grow and maintain their businesses,” he added.

As of now, there are 537 ‘Negosyo Centers’ established nationwide, but DTI wants to build more, as it targets to reach far areas and more people to accommodate.

Apart from this, the ‘Negosyo Center’ also hosted the first Business Counselors’ Conference, wherein all Business Counselors from all over the Philippines gathered to pool their experiences in assisting MSMEs in their respective centers.

DTI is also designing a new project called ‘DTI Connect’ – a directory of all registered businesses to guide MSMEs for their potential business partners, models and possible investors.

“Ang DTI connect ay parang telephone directory,nandun na lahat, mayors, business permit, etc. Tapos makakatulong pa para makahanap ng business partners, makakita ng model, or a possible investors, kasi pati foreign investors ay nakalagay din doon,” Lopez explained.



Meanwhile, PLDT SME Nation First Vice President Mitch Locsin plans to put MSMEs online by building an e – commerce website for them.

Citing the country as the ‘mobile 1st world’, Locsin believes that is the time to have an e – commerce especially if you want to develop MSMEs and grow their businesses.

“Ilalagay natin ang MSME, iyong filing of application, etc online. Mura lang naman ang website, atsaka we are the mobile first world, mahuhuli na tayo sa uso,” said Locsin.

With this, PLDT SME Nation together with DTI will put Free WiFis in all ‘Negosyo Centers’ nationwide and promises to have speed internets especially from rural areas as they will place wireless signals and data driven towers near centers.


Big Changes

With his hardwork and dedication, Lopez is earning praises not only from the business sector who are mostly captains of the industry, but also from ordinary people like those from the MSMEs who have been experiencing big changes in their lives for the better because of his support to them.

Lopez for his part while encouraged with the statements of support from various groups and sectors has remained low key and is using those words of encouragement as an inspiration to work harder and better.

“We have a mandate to do and that is to make the people’s lives better as promised by the President” he stressed.

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Thursday, 23 November 2017
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