Sunday, September 26, 2021

Experienced mentors needed

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Central Visayas is inviting the members of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) to share their business expertise in the agency’s Negosyo Centers in Cebu to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) thrive.

According to DTI-Central Visayas Director Asteria Caberte, the Negosyo Centers in Cebu are currently handled by junior business consultants trained by the DTI. But her office, she said, is willing to accommodate business owners to be consultants should they wish to share business tips, experience and best practices to the MSME sector.

“I believe this is one of the many ways the DTI and business chambers like CCCI can come together and collaborate,” said Caberte, who is also a full-fledged business counselor.

“This is one project of DTI where the public and private sectors can forge a partnership,” she added. “We need more partners.”

As of June this year, DTI has already set up a total of 184 Negosyo Centers. Forty-two of these centers are in the Visayas. Cebu Province has about 18 Negosyo Centers.

Outgoing DTI Secretary Adrian Cristobal, in his recent visit to Cebu, emphasized the need for the incoming administration to capacitate the MSME sector to prepare them for the business opportunities the ASEAN integration and other trade links of the country may bring in the future.

He admitted that access to finance still remains a challenge in the sector.

Cristobal noted that although there are already government programs that extend financial assistance to the sector, more programs should still be in place to make financing readily available.

“There is still a need for more financing windows for this sector,” the DTI chief said.

He added though, that inclusive financing has been at the forefront of the recently-concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, where each member-country agreed to come up with an inclusive strategy in addressing access to finance to MSMEs.

Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), the financial arm of the DTI, vowed that aside from extending mostly non-collateral types of financial help to MSMEs, they will also be aggressive in pushing for financial literacy.

SB Corp. president and chief executive officer Bartholomew Brillo Reynes said the state-owned financial institution will also capacitate the MSMEs such as helping them create business plans.

“This sector is quite dynamic and there should always be a continuing capacity building for this sector to minimize businesses from going out but rather help them grow faster,” said Reynes.

He noted that one factor that disqualifies the sector from accessing financial resources is the lack of a business plan, which ensures the lending institution of the serious commitment of an MSME owner to grow his or her business.

SB Corp. has lent around P600 million out of its P2-billion portfolio to entities mostly from Visayas, especially during the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
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