Business heads back DTI bid for free mall space for MSMEs
Business leaders in Cebu welcomed the move of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to expose micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the mainstream market.
According to an Inquirer report, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has started convincing some of the country’s biggest malls and retailers to provide free space dedicated to MSMEs products.
“This is a great way to support and provide market access to MSMEs,” Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) President Melanie Ng, when sought for comment, said in a text message.
Ng said the CCCI welcomes this initiative and will collaborate with the DTI as well as extend its assistance once the program rolls out.
She said the initiative is in line with CCCI’s proposed mentorship program which will be launched soon.
She added that they will enlist the support of already successful entrepreneurs, such as the Grand Chamber awardees, to become mentors of budding MSME owners.
Mandaue City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) incoming President Glenn Soco, meanwhile, said this move is commendable as part of the market development support that MSMEs need.
“A lot of our products, if given the right exposure, have the potential to become national and global brands. This will likewise encourage our MSMEs to improve their products and services to compete in the marketplace,” Soco said.
Soco said he is optimistic that the idea can actually become permanent and sustainable.
The Inquirer report added that the proposed program was just one of the measures being eyed by the new administration to boost the access of MSMEs to the domestic market, a move seen to help these enterprises take on bigger endeavors once they start exporting their products.
The malls were asked to provide free space for deserving MSME products, specifically those with trade fair quality, even for one or two months.
Another batch would then be featured in the same space to give more enterprises better chances of exposure to the mainstream market, the report stated.
Lopez reportedly spoke to Lance Gokongwei, whose family owns Robinsons malls, and was assured of the latter’s support.
The trade secretary said he also intends to tap the SM and Ayala groups.
DTI Central Visayas Director Asteria Caberte welcomed this development and said she hopes this can be achieved in the next 100 days.
She said DTI did a similar program in the past but was not sustained due to high operational expenses.
Now that the new trade secretary will be implementing a new scheme where malls have been asked to provide a space for free, Caberte said she is positive MSMEs will be given more permanent market exposure.
DTI Cebu Provincial Director Ma. Elena Arbon said this is a “very good” move, adding that this will also generate on-the-spot market feedback for entrepreneurs aside from income generation.
Arbon said exposure in malls, where foot traffic is considered high, is also achieved during trade exhibits, but these only last two to three days and are done only once or twice a year.
“This isn’t enough for them to gain traction in the market. The initiative is good for MSMEs wanting to enter challenging markets and also get immediate feedback on their products,” she said in a phone interview.
She said that this length of exposure will be beneficial to MSMEs since, on average, they pay at least P200,000 monthly to rent a small space in a mall.
MSMEs by the numbers
Based on 2014 figures provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are 942,925 MSMEs in the country, accounting for 99.6 percent of business establishments here.
Majority of the MSMEs in the country are into wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles, food and accommodation services, manufacturing, and information and communication, among others.
The same data showed that the MSME sector generated 4.89 million jobs versus 2.89 million generated by large establishments in 2014.
MSMEs also account for 25 percent of the country’s export revenue.
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