CLOSING THE INNOVATION GAP: Go into e-commerce, entrepreneurs urged

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09:48 PM December 21st, 2016

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By: Victor Anthony V. Silva, December 21st, 2016 09:48 PM

Entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector are encouraged to go into electronic commerce or e-commerce so that they can compete with other Asian countries in terms of innovation.

Ma. Elena Arbon, Department of Trade and Industry Cebu provincial director, said they are pushing for e-commerce among MSMEs because businesses in the Philippines are lagging behind other Asian counterparts in terms of business innovation.

“We just can’t continue to produce the usual items. In terms of value, products that involve technology are better,” she told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview on Wednesday.

The move to include e-commerce-related services in Negosyo Centers, she added, is a step to linking MSMEs to innovation.

She said that with this, they hope to develop more high-end, high-value MSMEs using creativity, knowledge, talent, and skills.

Negosyo Center

A Negosyo Center offers DTI services aimed at helping businesses such as business name registration (BNR), loan and investment assistance, and even training opportunities for MSME entrepreneurs.

Areas where Negosyo Centers are present include the towns of Sta. Fe, San Remigio, Daanbantayan, Dalaguete, Consolacion, and Tuburan, as well as the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Carcar, and Cebu (DTI provincial office and the University of the Philippines Cebu).

Last month, DTI Cebu launched an e-commerce and digital marketing workshop where 14 MSMEs involved in various sectors such as food, furniture, and home accessories, among others, participated.

“The fourth industrial revolution is happening. We are far behind, but there is an opportunity for us. There are a lot of talented entrepreneurs out there, but nobody is guiding or supporting them,” said Arbon.

Arbon also said that the DTI is trying to address this issue by helping entrepreneurs grow their business presence online.

Series of trainings

She was referring to the series of trainings for business counselors and personnel of entrepreneurs designed for this purpose.

Arbon said the series of training in 2017 that they would launch would equip agency staff to be able to “get a handle” or a “handhold” for their MSMEs in e-commerce.

“It will be part of the services offered at our Negosyo Centers across the province. If business owners want to go into e-commerce, then we will be able to help them develop their enterprises,” she said.

Advocacy for startups

Meanwhile, DTI Cebu will also carry its advocacy for startups into 2017 as it holds a planning workshop to localize targets within the national Startup Ecosystem Development plan on January 7.

Arbon said this will determine the direction of the startup community in Cebu so DTI and other stakeholders will know each of their roles in supporting the growing ecosystem here.
DTI’s Launchpad program is the agency’s initiative to help start-ups become full-fledged enterprises in the future through mentorship.

This year, five startups were given the opportunity to learn with the Philippine Software Industry Association’s (PSIA) Spring.ph.

While the DTI is primed to support businesses embrace digital practices, Arbon said 90 percent of the agency’s efforts is still meant for traditional enterprises.

The agency will launch 16 more Negosyo Centers in the province next year, bringing the total number of business centers to 27 by end-2017, according to Elias Tecson, DTI Cebu business development chief.

Tecson said the new centers will be opened in Argao, Moalboal, Danao City, Balamban, and SM City Cebu.

He said there will also be centers specifically tailored to the needs of Yolanda-ravaged areas in northern Cebu such as Bantayan, Madridejos, Medellin, Sogod, Borbon, Tabogon, Tabuelan, San Francisco, Poro, Tudela, and Pilar.

By end-2018, Tecson said all cities and municipalities in Cebu would already have its own Negosyo Center.

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