DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez (Photo by PNA)

The Department of Trade and Industry said entrepreneurship has been its major contribution to the Duterte administration given the government’s strong support in the development of the micro enterprises sector.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez noted that this will form part of a compilation of accomplishments of President Duterte, who will deliver his last state of the nation address today, July 26.  

Lopez, who previously headed the Go Negosyo before his appointment as DTI Secretary, noted that right from the start of the Duterte government, the president has strong push to help micro enterprises, calling it a 360 degree turn in helping the development of entrepreneurship in the country.

Over the past five years, DTI has supported the livelihood and entrepreneurship development from the grassroot level by way of training, financing and market access.

Even if the agency has no budget for the barangays, Lopez said they partnered with the barangays by offering trainings and distribution of livelihood kits such as goods to sell for sari-sari stores,   equipment and machineries for dressmakers, and tools for barbershops, carpentry and masonry to ensure micro entrepreneurs can go on with their trade.

The DTI P3 or Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso has also extended livelihood assistance for the government’s Bangon Marawi efforts. The P3 Program has achieved 99 percent budget utilization rate since its implementation.

The P3 programs also granted livelihood kits to Marawi entrepreneurs in the form of tricycles, pedicabs, mobile stores, sewing machines, and carpentry tools.

In terms of financing, the DTI through the SB Corp. has extended to over 30,000 borrowers zero interest and collateral-free loans. So far, the micro lending arm of the DTI has extended P4.9 billion in loans to MSMEs and is utilizing some unspent fund allocation for the Department of Tourism under the Bayanihan 2 to help non-tourism related business borrowers.

The DTI has also expanded e-commerce in the country especially with the onset of the pandemic that drastically forces companies to shift to digital marketing due to mobility restrictions.

As of 2020, there are already 500,000 domestic enterprises on various e-commerce platforms. The target of the government’s e-Commerce Roadmap is to achieve 750,000 this year and one million by 2022.

Because of the pandemic, some enterprises have closed shops but many more have shifted to online businesses and other pandemic-resilient business models.

Before the pandemic or from January to March 2020, Lopez pointed out there were only 1,700 business registration with the DTI but the agency ended with 88,000 registration.

As of June this year, he said, there were already 1.7 million business name registration from only 900,000 five years ago. This is because several enterprises have shifted to other businesses like online selling, delivery services, logistics, among others.

Of course, he said, the number of consumer complaints also rose, mostly involving online transactions. These are being addressed by the DTI consumer protection group, he said.

Consolidated consumer complaints from all government agencies including those for the Department of Information and Communications Technology/National Telecommunications Commission and Food and Drugs Administration have reached 13,000 from only 1,000.

In terms of market access, the DTI has opened market access to micro enterprises products in the country’s major malls via the “Go Lokal” campaign free of charge.

Earlier, Lopez said that a total of 352 MSME products under the Go Lokal program have been mainstreamed and graduated as regular suppliers to 20 big retailers in the country.

According to Lopez, a total of 20 big retailers have joined the program providing free space to MSME products in 144 stores or malls nationwide. So far, 788 MSMEs have participated in the Go Lokal! Program since its inception in 2016.

“Of this number, 352 MSMEs have already been mainstreamed and become regular suppliers of our retail partners, generating sales of over P381 million,” Lopez reported.