22 creatives join Dream project

Business.(Business File photo)

TWENTY-TWO mentees from Central Visayas join this year’s Digital Services Entrepreneurs Advancement Mentoring (Dream) program by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7, aimed at empowering local entrepreneurs in the digital landscape.

All the 22 mentees—12 from Cebu, five from Bohol, four from Negros Oriental and one from Siquijor—represent the creative services sector.

Targeted programs

The Dream Program, which was launched digitally on Thursday, April 4, 2024, will run for 12 weeks and will feature mentorship modules such as contract management, time and project management, legalizing one’s business and others.

“By mapping the landscape of creativity, identifying skills and talents and understanding the aspirations and needs of our stakeholders, we lay the groundwork for targeted programs and policies that foster growth and innovation,” said DTI 7 Director Maria Elena Arbon.

This initiative follows DTI 7’s mapping of local creatives in the region and aims to address issues faced by the sector.

Some of the main issues cited across the creative subsectors included concerns about creation, distribution, production and consumption, highlighting the minimal support for emerging creatives; lack of industry mentors and champions; and skills transfer and capacity building.


For the Dream Program this year, DTI 7 collaborated with local creatives, The Company Cebu and Dual Story.

“The Dream program was created to empower creatives to transform their passion into profitable ventures. By fostering a network of mentors, peers, and industry leaders, Dream equips participants with the essential business skills they need to thrive. After all the sessions, we hope to continue working with this collaborative collective of graduates who will support and empower future creative entrepreneurs,” said The Company general manager Joy Garingo.

The Company Cebu is an international co-working space for creators, community leaders and startups.

Survival rate

“Because we’re playing in emerging creative industries, we must increase the survival rate of creative businesses beyond the one-year mark when real challenges start to crop up. Ultimately, it is the creatives who have to champion themselves and each other. May this program give them the confidence to take the leap or continue,” said Dual Story founder Johanna Michelle Lim.

Dual Story is a Cebu branding agency for local and global brands focused on insight, innovation and impact.

Arbon added the Dream Program aligns with the Philippine Creative Industries Development Act, advocating the promotion of Philippine creative industries while safeguarding the rights and capacities of its diverse stakeholders.


Originally launched in 2021, the Dream Program emerged as an online training course tailored specifically for digital services entrepreneurs and freelancers. Its inception was a response to the unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, aiming to equip businesses of all sizes with the resilience and adaptability needed to thrive in challenging times.

In collaboration with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the program’s core was to produce confident local entrepreneurs with the right mindset and basic management skills, enabling them to sustain their enterprises amid the challenges of the pandemic and new normal conditions.

In 2022, DTI 7 launched Creative Konnect, a subsector program focused on identifying and mapping the creative sector in Central Visayas. This program aims to understand and harness the potential of the different creative subsectors in using creativity as a tool for socioeconomic development.

Following the successful completion of Phase 1, which entailed the comprehensive collection of quantitative data from the island provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental in December 2021, and the subsequent formal launch in April 2022, Phase 2 commenced on July 28, 2022. / KOC


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