Friday , June 22, 2018

Program needs more mentors

IF there is one place in the country where entrepreneurship and collaboration are alive, it is Cebu.

Some micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) gathered yesterday at the City Sports Club in Cebu Business Park to celebrate the first anniversary of the Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said to be one of the most successful rollouts in the Philippines, having assisted 83 entrepreneurs in a year.

But for this to be sustainable, existing mentors, composed of established business owners, are inviting more of their like-minded colleagues to be mentors, too.

“Our limitation is that we need more mentors, passionate mentors, who are willing to travel outside Cebu where we will be conducting mentorship,” said Virgilio Espeleta, KMME Visayas head coordinator in a press conference yesterday.

As a nationwide program first rolled out in 2016, KMME also benefitted enterprises in other provinces of Central Visayas. There were 82 MSMEs mentored in Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros Oriental combined, bringing the total number of participants to 165 in a year since its implementation.

Under the 12-week program, entrepreneurs learned about various disciplines in business, including business laws, human resource management, marketing, finance, operations, and taxation.

Shortly after it was first rolled out, Espeleta said the interest of small-scale business owners to avail of program began increasing. This means mentors who can commit to guide these entrepreneurs are needed to sustain it.

But, business owners do not always have the most convenient schedule.

Given the demands of their businesses, it takes sacrifice to become a mentor.

“There’s a little honorarium,” Espeleta, considered the “dean” of the KMME academy in the Visayas, shared.

Mentors are classified into three groups. First are the inspirational mentors, whose stories ignite MSMEs’ desire to aim higher. Then there are “experts” who excel in different business disciplines such as operations, business development, marketing, taxation, and human resource management. Lastly, those who can serve as part of the panel will critic and provide insights.

At present, DTI 7 has identified 40 mentors, but their tight schedules and the need to travel inter-island have always been a challenge. Sacrificing one or two days in a week also affects their respective businesses, admitted Espeleta.

DTI 7 Director Asteria Caberte also encouraged more established business owners to pay it forward by becoming mentors, even if this means sacrificing some of their time off their businesses to help those who are just starting.

“The more entrepreneurs we have, the more the economy will grow, and the more there will be job opportunities for everybody. We’re trying to build a virtuous cycle and create an enabling environment for this virtuous cycle to grow,” added DTI Cebu Director Maria Elena Arbon.

Caberte pledged for more MSMEs to be mentored next year as the agency anticipates bigger funding for KMME. Within one year since its implementation, DTI 7 has allocated roughly P3 million for the six batches in Central Visayas.

On average, the government invests P20,000 to P30,000 per trained MSME, added Espeleta.