THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 announced it will be opening a One Town, One Product (Otop) store in Ayala Center Cebu.

DTI 7 Director Ma. Elena Arbon said the agency already has an arrangement with Ayala Center Cebu’s mall management and they are already in the process of designing the store.

No store opening date has been revealed though, but Arbon is eyeing to open the store in December in time for the Christmas season or in January for the Sinulog Festival.

“While trade fairs are designed for specific dates to promote our micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs), this mall-based Otop store is designed to accommodate the ‘otopreneurs’ and their customers every day,” said Arbon.

Having a presence in malls, where high foot traffic is guaranteed, otopreneurs get to attract various kinds of buyers like local, foreign, and even balikbayans or Filipino returnees.

The DTI 7 chief earlier emphasized the critical role of MSMEs in the country’s economic recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our MSMEs are producing quality products and they deserve our attention and support,” she said.

Otop Philippines is a priority stimulus program for MSMEs as the government’s customized intervention to drive inclusive economic growth.

“Good products and services are nothing without buyers or customers. By providing MSMEs with opportunities to promote and sell their products, we help them reach out to their target markets, expand their customer base, and increase their profitability,” the DTI said.

The program enables localities and communities to determine, develop, support and promote products or services that are rooted in their local culture, community resource, creativity, connection and competitive advantage.

Otop is an international program that originated from Japan’s One Village, One Product. This program has been in the Philippines since 2002.

Otop covers only tangible products and skills-based services such as processed foods, agri-based products, arts and crafts, home and fashion/creative artisanal, and services like hilot, sculpting, wellness products, industrial products, personal care and cosmetics. (KOC)