On January 24, 2018, Go Negosyo sa Radyo hosts Sen. Bam Aquino & DJ Faith were joined by Asec. Bles Lantayona (Department of Trade & Industry), Clarke Nebrao (Go Negosyo Mentor), John Lloyd “Jolo” Quiaonza (Mentee, KMME Laguna), Charlene Bunbun (Business Counselor, Negosyo Center Laguna) and Engr. Merly Cruz (Go Negosyo Adviser for MSME Development) in an episode called “Serbisyong DTI: Tulay mo sa Tagumpay!”
Ties between Go Negosyo and the Department of Trade and Industry is centered on the current Secretary Ramon Lopez who was the previous Executive Director of Go Negosyo for over a decade. It is no wonder why many programs toward MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) development have flourished nationwide under his term. Today, DTI is lauded as one of the best performing government agencies under Pres. Duterte’s administration.
DTI and Go Negosyo’s joint project called the Kapatid Mentor ME (Micro Entrepreneurs) program, launched in mid-2016, and has already impacted the lives of thousands of Filipinos nationwide. “KMME has already had 121 sessions in all the cities, provinces, and regions in the country. 19,853 MSMEs were able to attend the Mentor Me Program,” said Asec. Bles Lantayona.
Asec. Bles said that one of the biggest factors that has allowed the department to nationally scale the program were the emergence of hundreds of Negosyo Centers in almost every community in the Philippines. As of their last count, 774 branches have already been established nationwide. The centers have allowed DTI to bring their programs to Filipinos all over, at a faster and more efficient rate.
One of the people who has greatly benefited from the KMME program and Negosyo Centers is KMME Mentee Jolo Quiaonza of Laguna. “When I failed in my first business, I was wondering why I failed. The KMME program answered a lot of my questions and showed me why I initially failed. It taught me about the market, finance and product development,” Jolo shared.
Jolo’s mentor Clarke Nebrao attested to Jolo’s growth under the program. He shared that the first iteration of Jolo’s product—flavored leche flan—although unique, was too sweet and lacked branding and proper packaging. Under the KMME Program, Jolo’s product began to flourish and is now recognized by many in trade fairs. “Exposure was one of the most helpful things DTI provided,” Jolo said.
For Clarke, the KMME progam goes beyond the 12-weeks of intensive modules. He shares that a business community is formed around the program and centers where entrepreneurs become empowered because they now have a place for support and knowledge. “Mentees continually connect with their mentors. There is a support group and many entrepreneurs are becoming more empowered.”
Charlene Bunbun, a Business Counselor stationed in the Negosyo Center in Laguna, shares that the KMME program is not the only reason why you should go to your local center. Charlene shares that counselors like her help many entrepreneurs find the right services and information to help them with their business. In fact, Charlene first helped Jolo with his business, when the latter only had a DTI registration for his business. She helped him to register his business all the way up to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and is now helping him get his business—Spoonful Desserts—officially trademarked.
Something Charlene wants a lot of entrepreneurs to know is that the government is also working on providing many Filipinos with financial aid services aside from the mentoring and technical assistance programs in place. The Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pagaasenso will be available in Negosyo Centers nationwide and aims to replace the illegal five-six lending scheme to help Filipinos access legal financial solutions that leave them with copious amounts of debt.
Moving forward, Asec. Bles also shared that DTI has gotten the support of the government to expand the Shared Service Facilities (SSF) program. From a budget of 200 million in the previous year, the program has now acquired a whopping 1 billion in budget for the department to expand its facilities nationwide. Many more programs and trainings will also be provided by DTI through the negosyo centers and a new program focused on youth entrepreneurship and product development will soon launch.