HOSTING the Asean summit on the development of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) has given the Philippines an opportunity to highlight digitalization and innovation as key strategies to help entrepreneurs flourish, an official said.

Speaking before Southeast Asia’s economic ministers, Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez elaborated on the value of digital strategies and e-commerce in market operations, describing this as a big growth enabler for entrepreneurs.

“If we talk of upgrading competencies, simply put, we want to make smarter entrepreneurs. For this to happen, the watchword is innovation, as showcased by the demonstrated capacity of many of our MSMEs in the Asean region,” said Lopez during the summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center last July 14. He is the chairman of this year’s economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Director Asteria Caberte and Assistant Director Nelia Navarro joined the economic ministers and members of the business community in that summit.

While MSMEs comprise about 95-99 percent of all business establishments, they still do not account for a “commensurate output share in terms of Gross Domestic Product and exports.”

“Through innovation and digitalization, we are confident that MSMEs can leapfrog their status as globally-competitive enterprises, thus benefitting everyone in Asean,” said Lopez.

The Manila Call to Action pursues a seven-point strategic framework or 7Ms to help Asean entrepreneurs start up, sustain, expand, and internationalize their own businesses to make them smarter.

The 7Ms, adopted last July 14, refer to the following: Mindset or orienting entrepreneurs with the right entrepreneurial characteristics and attitude; Mastery and Mentoring or equipping MSMEs with the necessary competence and skills in business; Markets and finding access; Money, referring to financing schemes that MSMEs can further explore; and Machines and Models to boost productivity, and improve marketability of products.

DTI spearheads MSME development. In the second half of 2016, it implemented the Kapatid Mentor Me Program and the E-Commerce Mentorship Program, where established business owners coach micro and small-scale entrepreneurs in a 12-week training that includes marketing, taxation, finance, and human resources. (JOG)