Press Release
April 28, 2017

Sen. Bam's opening statement at the ASEAN Prosperity for All Summit

Good morning to everyone. Magandang umaga.

Most of the laws we have passed are in support of MSMEs and I think the favorite of Joey and Sec. Mon and a lot of the people here is of course the Go Negosyo Act of 2014 that was passed to create infrastructure to help our MSMEs, to help them grow and develop with a program that really is directed for that goal.

A lot of people here I've met before becoming a senator. A lot of them know that my work in microfinance and social enterprise has led me to develop some of these policies.

And what you've seen is that most of our MSMEs will need what we call the 3 Ms - money, mentorship and market. We need the 3 Ms to create that enabling environment for them to be able to succeed and to be able to grow.

Former President Arroyo talked about the first M which was money and definitely a lot of our MSMEs need that. We have a number of people here who own banks and who are part of banks, the medium and the large, I think these days are enjoying low interest rates.

It's your micro and small that need better interest rates, definitely opening up other forms of collateral or non-collateralized loans for them, or even a guarantee program which we have been talking about for years, is something that can truly help bridge that financing gap.

That's the first M. The second M, of course, is mentorship and a lot of work is being put now in DTI and the ASEAN in terms of mentorship. In fact, the AMEN network is really to put together mentors not only from your own country but to be able to access that from our countries in the region is also equally important.

But the third M is the most crucial which is market. A lot of our MSMEs, a lot of our micro and small do have good products, they do have a lot of potential but they aren't able to access markets. This is something where when we talk about entering the global scene, are we ready, its all about accessing markets.

Initially, or maybe one way to be able to do it, and DTI does a lot of this, is through trade fairs and through bringing you closer to retailers, which I think we're doing a lot these days. The other one is digital which is to skip the traditional structures and go straight to the homes of consumers. But I think one aspect which we really need to focus on is really to open up inclusive supply chain, which is what the KAPATID program is really focusing on.

The classic example of this, of course, is Jollibee where they opened up their produce to local farmers. And that's a 10-year program already, which a lot of the companies here I think can get into. These days, our ability to help our intention to provide prosperity for all has shifted already from dole outs and CSR budgets to truly one where the challenge is opening up our businesses to smaller businesses, to micro businesses and it's not the easiest thing to do as this has been documented already. But it's what we need to do.

If we can do that within our country and eventually across the ASEAN, where your larger companies are able to get supply from smaller companies or even micro businesses supplying to small and medium, not just within the province or within the region but across the ASEAN. I think we're really creating an infrastructure where prosperity can be spread for all.

Government and non-government organizations can come in in terms of the readiness of your micro and small enterprises because not everyone is ready. In fact, I would say the majority will probably not be ready. So there's readiness that we need to do both on the side of the large companies, which probably their foundations can do or groups like the Go Negosyo and the KAPATID program can do.

But there's also need, maybe this is where local government and the Department of Trade and Industry, through the Negosyo Centers, can come in, support our micro and small enterprises. Get them to a place where they can supply at a quality, frequency and rate that's acceptable to the larger businesses with their larger supply chains.

If these 3 Ms are present - capacity to get financing, the mentorship, which can be done either through government education institutions and partners, and the access to market, which can be done digitally, which can be done by bringing your products to retailers, and most importantly I think is opening up supply chains, then I think your enabling environment can truly be enabling and we can find success and growth that we want to see in this sector.

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