After months of anticipation and preparation, we officially launched the Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance in Malacañang Palace. President Duterte, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, government officials, members of our 30 alliance partners, state ambassadors, mentors and entrepreneurs were all in attendance for the momentous event.
In my speech, I shared the programs which we in the private sector are doing to support the mission of pursuing inclusive growth through MSME development.
Let me share it with you.
The reason why we gathered for the biggest public-private alliance is because we really want our President to fulfill his mission in helping many of the Filipino people out there who are suffering from poverty. Our micro and small entrepreneurs — 99.6 percent of them, are the ones that are severely challenged.
We plan to help by focusing on mentorship, money, and market. The power of mentorship is extremely huge. Many of the attendees are actual beneficiaries of this immense power — from schools, parents, colleagues. They continue to mentor each other to become successful entrepreneurs and businessmen. Yet, many of those at the bottom of the pyramid lack that skill. And this is where we intend to focus.
I’d like to recount how our President helped painter Macky Bongabong two years ago. With that help, he has gained a lot of momentum. When our President found him, he helped him by asking him to do the portrait of our President and it was hanged on the halls of Malacañang. Macky, since then, has done really well. In fact, he has now a joint project with Joey Antonio, who is an excellent photographer. They are going to do a collaboration of his painting and his photography. That is the power of mentorship.
So far, together with the Department of Trade and Industry, we have trained and mentored and passed 5,125 mentees. Secretary Mon Lopez and his entire team have been one of the greatest partners we’ve had in really scaling down mentorship to the grassroots level. Secretary Manny Piñol, as well, with his programs in the Department of Agriculture. We have worked with 425 cooperatives with their heads and their treasurer. This is led by Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, who has worked very hard not only in this project as well as in many of our projects in Mindanao, especially Marawi. And the pursuit of helping Marawi and Sulu still continues. With the help of everyone in the private sector last year and the year before — supporting, bringing, and helping them in their own negosyos.
The other M is money. I know our President wants to get rid of the 5-6 lending scheme. The way to do it is to digitalize our micro and small entrepreneurs. Manny Pangilinan and Fernando Zobel, the owners of Smart and Globe, play a unique opportunity of trying to create a platform that will reach our microentrepreneurs by enabling them to use a smartphone to borrow money. With their platforms, Lendr and Mynt, and with the help of our fast-moving consumer goods companies Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, P&G, etc. We have laid the framework and the start whereby many of these FMCG companies know the best clients, the best sari-sari stores, they will now share these data with these platforms of both Globe and Smart. Thereby, enabling them to access different lenders at much lower interest rates.
We will now share the data with these platforms both Globe and Smart, thereby enabling them to access different lenders who offer much lower interest rates. They will be able to compete with the 5-6 lending because the collection can be done through the phone weekly, monthly. And some of them are going to give free insurance, they will have a financing scheme for their phones, and even free data. This, to me, is the biggest game-changer. Digitalizing our micro and small entrepreneurs, eventually cascading that to the provinces, agriculture workers and all of that. We have invited a number of digital entrepreneurs, Lazada, Shopee, Angkas, and Gawin.
The advent of digitalization is actually going to democratize the entire sector. It’s going to give them a chance to reach the market place and the money place without us, brick-and-mortar businesses controlling them. Eventually, all banks, rural banks and MFIs will need to jump into this platform for them to be able reach the millions of Filipinos who are at the bottom of the pyramid and the only way is to reach it through the telephone.
Maybe the challenge is connectivity but I guess between the two of them, the intense competition, the amount of investment that they are going to pour in will be immense. I had shared my thoughts with Manny Pangilinan that, “Why don’t you guys share powers? Try to go to areas wherein maybe it’s not profitable but jointly, it might be profitable.”
The challenge of digitalization is reach and connectivity. The platforms are there, the young entrepreneurs are ready to go. Because in the end, if you have mentorship but without money, it’s useless.
You may have the mentorship, you may have the money, but you don’t have the access to market. The Build Build Build program is the key to it, but we need greater participation from the private sector. I would like to thank our President for giving the privilege to our private sector to be partners with government in airports: San Miguel with Bulacan, now the group of seven having the OPS for the NAIA rehabilitation. I believe that with the modernization of all our airports, tourism will be the biggest game-changer.
President Duterte’s very bold move of closing down Boracay shocked everyone but in the end I think it was the right decision. It was a painful decision, but it stressed the point that if we want this country to have and maintain its treasures — which are the beautiful islands, we must take care of them. And that has become a lesson for many out there — in local government and entrepreneurs as well, that all the beaches, all the beautiful resorts that have potential in the Philippines have to be taken care of. I believe that he sent that message. He has appointed a secretary who is very good in marketing and I believe these combination, and together with the support of private sector to hasten and join government in building these airports, will be the biggest game-changer.
Likewise, the Build Build Build in roads, ports, and all of that are equally important because access from farm-to-market is key in developing our agriculture sector. Bulk of the 99.6 percent of our microentrepreneurs belong to the agriculture sector. It is the most challenging sector actually out there, and we can help them through mentorship, we can provide them the money, but we must also provide them the access to market. These roads are very important for them to reach their products — to get their products to the shipping lanes, to the market stalls on time. So, I believe for us to really make this country inclusive, this is the way forward.
I know our President will be making a very important decision in the structure of government and our Madame Speaker will also be making a very important decision on the right structure that this country should look forward to. But whatever structure it is, I think it is the structure that should encourage investors to continue to invest in this country. It should encourage greater competition. It should encourage everybody to be able to reach the poorest entrepreneur out there.
As a small corporation, it is an asset for one to make centralized decisions. As one grows and becomes like an Ayala, then you can decentralize the decision and control of resources. It is where we put the Philippines to be, whether we are a small corporation or a large corporation.
In the end, we pray that our nation makes that right decision that will continue the massive movement of change that is now helping our country move forward. Our President has our full support with whatever decision he makes. He has won because he has the mandate of the poor people out there that they wanted to see a better future for themselves. Together with the alliance, with the 30 chambers and organizations, we are committed to this vision because in the end, the Philippines has to gradually move away from poverty. In his last four years, we will definitely support President Duterte in trying to attain that vision and dream.