Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of the Philippine economy, providing livelihood for millions and making the most significant impact on the overall welfare of the Filipino people. With the volatile business environment, supporting MSMEs to remain competitive and future-ready is crucial. In order to address this, the Global Compact Network Philippines (GCNP) Prosperity Pillar, in collaboration with the Aboitiz Group, SM Investments Corporation, and other private sector partners, has launched Biyaheng Digiskarte, a mentoring program for MSMEs to help them leverage the latest technology, digital platforms, and market trends to grow their businesses.
The first webinar of Byaheng Digiskarte under the GCNP Prosperity Pillar, titled “TechUp MSMEs and Financing,” successfully launched on Wednesday, March 22. The kick-off was designed to introduce MSMEs to the importance of adapting to the modern business environment through technology and an entrepreneurial mindset, as well as exploring digitization platforms and financial services available to them.
The kick-off webinar was attended by micro and small farmer entrepreneurs.
“Byaheng Digiskarte focuses on helping MSMEs prepare for the future by providing them with capacity building training, upscaling, upskilling, and providing financial and market access. We will link them to different networks to enhance and improve their way of life, and at the same time transform them to become sustainable, innovative entrepreneurs for the long term,” said GCNP Prosperity Pillar Lead and Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) First Vice President and Chief Reputation and Sustainability Officer Ginggay Hontiveros.
The Prosperity Pillar is part of the GCNP Private Sector Champions (PSC) initiative for MSME recovery and resilience following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus areas of the initiative are divided into three work streams: People, Prosperity, and Planet. The Aboitiz Group leads the Prosperity Pillar, which is adapting the Group’s Biyaheng Digiskarte mentoring program’s best practices for MSME recovery and resilience.
For the webinar, several speakers discussed “Paano Maging Madigiskarte.” This included Peddlr Chief Operating Officer (COO) Aiko Reyes, Cropital Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ruel Amparo, Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) Customer Experience Group Senior Vice President for SMEs and Micropreneurs Jaypee Soliman, and SB Finance President and CEO Abbie Dans-Casanova.
The Aboitiz Foundation’s Biyaheng Digiskarte mentoring program helped Girlie Sahoy (above), a farmer from Benguet, to effectively sell her produce online and even manage her finances through online banking, empowering her and her business amidst the pandemic.
The attendees also heard from SG Farmers Association President and Sahoy Farm Owner Girlie Sahoy. An entrepreneur based in Balili, La Trinidad, her agribusiness was adversely affected by the pandemic lockdowns, border restrictions, and market closures, causing financial difficulties for her business and her family. Amidst the hardships, “Biyaheng Digiskarte” empowered Sahoy and her fellow SG farmers to become successful online agripreneurs. Her story is a testament to the power of technology for MSMEs, and served as an inspiration for the “Biyaheng Digiskarte” mentees in the audience who are well on their way to achieving similar success.
This was followed by a question-and-answer session with the speakers and was moderated by GCNP Program Officer Edward Marcel Gacusana.
Hontiveros said, “Let us all act collectively to help MSMEs recover losses from this pandemic and be resilient over time. Through our strategic and collaborative synergies in a dynamic ecosystem, working together will allow us to create meaningful and impactful approaches to recovery and resiliency building for them.”
The Prosperity Pillar involves collaborative efforts between the Aboitiz Group and its co-lead SM Investments Corporation, along with fellow member companies Philippine Marketing Association, Nestlé Philippines, Unilever, Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, ADEC Innovations, Subic International Management Consultancy, Converge, and SGV.
Future webinars under the Prosperity Pillar will cover supply chain sustainability, business continuity management, and diversification and market access. These topics are crucial for MSMEs to build resilience and sustainability in their operations.