A PRIVATE and public sector collaboration will attempt to bring the businesses of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the next level.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) signed last Friday a formal partnership for the roll-out of Project Kapatid Mentor Me Program in Cebu Province this Oct. 7.

The program offers 12 weeks of coaching and mentoring for MSMEs by business owners and practitioners on the different functional areas of entrepreneurship, to be held in Negosyo Centers nationwide.

DTI tapped the resources of CCCI to provide mentors for MSMEs whom the agency will select.

“The end goal here is to provide confident entrepreneurs with the right mindset and business know-how that will enable them to sustain and scale up their enterprises,” said the trade department.

Project Kapatid is a collaboration of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE)/Go Negosyo and the DTI. To roll out the project nationwide, the Go Negosyo and the DTI reached out to the local business chambers.

Aside from the Mentor Me program, the project also covers other initiatives like the Adopt a Shared Service Facility and promotion of inclusive business.

Business know-how and management capability, machinery and facilities, and market access are among the hurdles micro and small enterprises face as they strive to grow. CCCI believes mentoring them will help entrepreneurs bring their businesses to the next level and link them to the value chain of medium and large corporations.

“We are promoting a sibling partnership here, where big businesses help small ones to become big like them,” said Virgilio Espeleta, CCCI’s vice-president for business development.

The Mentor Me program will be done in two phases. Phase 1, which is good for two weeks, will cover modules on basic entrepreneurship such as entrepreneurial mind-setting and values foundation and marketing.

Weeks 3 to 10 will cover more advanced business modules such as operations management, supply and value chain, human resource management, financial management, taxation, and business law.

This Mentor Me program is open to all MSMEs across all industries.

CCCI and DTI expect 300 participants to sign up for the program, which will then be trimmed to 50, based on the basic criteria. Of the 50 pre-selected participants, a maximum of 20 will graduate and proceed to Phase 2, based on an advanced set of criteria, an interview, the participant’s entrepreneurial character and business model.

Espeleta said that the program also needs some 20 mentors. Fifteen CCCI members have already signed up as mentors.

After the 12-week mentorship program, Espeleta said, the participants will be required to produce and present a business improvement plan, which will be evaluated by a panel of mentors. After that, these businesses will be adopted by CCCI members.

To involve more business organizations in this program, Espeleta announced he will also present this program to the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry to encourage their members to become mentor, as well as the Bantayan Chamber of Commerce and Naga Chamber of Commerce.

“We encourage them to send their potential participants and candidates for mentors for us to have a high quality of mentorship,” said Espeleta.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, former executive director of Go Negosyo, said that Project Kapatid is a “win-win” program that is also aligned with President Rodrigo Duterte’s agenda of spreading prosperity.