PA Joey Concepcion with Sec. Ramon Lopez, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and President Rodrigo Duterte during the National MSME Summit 2018.

MSME development has been one of the Duterte administration’s economic agenda. That is why the Department of Trade and Industry led by Sec. Ramon Lopez has been an active force in pursuing programs that would help our micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs. And Go Negosyo is an staunch partner of DTI and the administration in helping our entrepreneurs scale up and enjoy prosperity.

Just this Tuesday, DTI hosted the 4th National MSME Development Summit held at the ASEAN Convention Center, Clark, Pampanga.

It was a very eventful day as the summit was a gathering of all entrepreneurs — majority of which are MSMEs from the country as well as the top leaders from our government and other successful entrepreneurs.

As the vice chair of the MSMED Council, I am one with Sec. Lopez when he said that we are very active toward MSME development. DTI as well as other government units have launched numerous programs in helping our brothers and sisters address poverty through entrepreneurship. These include the Shared Service Facilities (SSF), Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), Go Lokal, Regional Interactive Platform for Philippine Exporters (RIPPLES), Comprehensive Social Benefits Program for Killed-in-Action and Wounded-in-Action Military Personnel (CSBP KIA-WIA), and of course, our Kapatid Mentor ME program from Go Negosyo.

The testimonials from these programs really affirmed that our initiatives are being felt by our stakeholders. Their inspiring stories and words of gratitude warmed our hearts. This only means that our efforts are paying off not only because of their remarks but also through the concrete changes in their lives.

I was joined by DTI Usec. Rowel Barba in the first forum for the day to discuss the role of government in fostering a mindset in facilitating the ease of doing business. We also talked about creating and empowering entrepreneurs built on a multi-stakeholder approach. In this panel, I shared that we have been strengthening our partnerships with the public and private sector to help our MSMEs especially thesari-sari store owners. People like ourselves in big corporations have been harnessing the private sector in providing the right avenues for these enterprises in terms of financial access and the right mindset. We are doing our part to help them navigate in the digital landscape.

I highlighted the importance of the 3Ms – mentorship, money, and market in entrepreneurship. I have always believed that mentorship is a very powerful tool in empowering our micro and small entrepreneurs. Finding the right mentor will enable our brothers and sisters to execute their business plan and manage their enterprises accordingly.

While the plenary has been successfully running, we also rolled out the Mentor Me on Wheels in the MSME Development Summit. In its fourth leg, we once again offered free one-on-one mentorship to the aspiring entrepreneurs in Clark. I, together with Sec. Mon Lopez, William Belo of Wilcon Depot, and Henry Lim Bon Liong of SL Agritech and more than 60 mentors shared our expertise and business advice to the mentees onsite.

PA Joey mentoring Marites Clareza during the roll out of the Mentor Me on Wheels in the National MSME Summit 2018.

I personally mentored Marites Clareza, who owns a massage parlor and sells products that promote hair growth. In our session, I found out that she runs the business with her eldest son. She sought advice on how to register her business and how to make it FDA-compliant. I hope that she will imbibe what I have told her and continuously develop her products to be of help to other people.

During this summit, Sec. Mon and I also officially introduced our Mentor Me mobile app to the public. This is the first of its kind to be launched in the Philippines which is envisioned to bring mentorship closer to all Filipinos. It is now available for download on Google Play Store and will soon be available for iOS devices. We hope that through our latest initiative, we would bring mentorship even to those who cannot personally attend our events in Go Negosyo and DTI. With this mobile app, we break the barriers in connecting our aspiring entrepreneurs to their mentors.

President Duterte also discussed the ease of doing business in his speech. He mentioned that he wants business permits to be processed within three days. Implementing a stricter regulation in providing business permits and other documents will really encourage our MSMEs to pursue entrepreneurship. He would also like to remove the “5-6” lending system as it hinders the growth of Filipinos because of its high interest rates.

I am expressing my utmost gratitude to DTI and Sec. Mon and all the hardworking people who are with us in our advocacy. We are truly one in helping the our MSMEs navigate in this ever-changing digital economy. These continuous efforts in bringing mentorship closer to every Filipino – either offline or online, are harnessed in realizing President Duterte’s vision of an inclusive economic growth in our country. It does not end here. After the successful summit, we will still keep developing our programs in championing the needs of our MSMEs.