Press Release
August 1, 2017

Sen. Bam's Sponsorship Speech for the Innovative Start-Up Act



Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" A. Aquino IV
17th Congress, Senate of the Philippines
Sponsorship Speech, August 1, 2017

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, good afternoon, magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

It is my honor and privilege to stand before you today to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1532 under Committee Report No. 142 entitled An Act Providing Benefits and Programs to Strengthen, Promote, and Develop the Philippine Startup Ecosystem.

It is difficult to launch a startup, Mr. President. And it is especially difficult in the Philippines.

I experienced this firsthand when I co-founded two social enterprises- the Hapinoy Program and Rags2Riches (R2R) a couple of years agp, almost a decade ago, Mr. President.

We experienced rejection, running out of capital and changes in our business model. We went through many of the hardships every entrepreneur experiences, which is why I have a very special place in my heart for Filipino startups.

So when I became a legislator, Mr. President, I was determined to push for policies that empower our Filipino SMEs. .

The first law I passed was the Go Negosyo Act and I am happy to report that there are now over 500 Negosyo Centers around the Philippines. We've also passed the Youth Entrepreneurship Act and other laws that support the development of our micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs.

But, Mr. President, there is still much more we can do to encourage our start-ups, particularly our innovative and technology startups.

They are businesses that provide unique and relevant solutions to our problems, from daily hassles, like finding a taxi during rush hour, to improving the delivery of healthcare, providing support for our farmers, and addressing unemployment.

And today, Mr. President, I would like to share some of these solutions.

The first is HealthBlocks. HealthBlocks focuses on the issue of complicated and extensive personal healthcare information.

In countries like Australia and England, health records are centralized for better access to accurate health information about patients.

HealthBlocks took this idea and created an application that can facilitate the centralization of health information in the Philippines, around Asia, and anywhere in the world.

Imagine all your health records accessible at the touch of a button and easily and securely given to your doctors, healthcare providers, and even insurance companies.

HealthBlocks will not only improve convenience but will allow for better diagnosis and treatment of patients, Mr. President.

Another startup, Mr. President, is called Cropital. Cropital is attempting to solve the problem of many of our farmers, and this is the lack of access to loans with reasonable terms.

This start-up allows anyone to sign up online and choose a local farming community to invest money in.

They then manage the funds of each farm and ensure that your money goes to the right resources.

After harvest season and the farmer's produce is sold, the investor gets his returns based on the agreed upon terms with the community.

Through technology and the concept of crowdsourcing, Cropital is able to match our farmers with those with the means to invest, empowering farmers in their agribusiness. Another innovative solution, Mr. President!

My third example, Mr. President, is Virtualahan. Virtualahan is attempting to solve the problem of unemployment.

Virtualahan actually stands for "virtual eskwelahan", which provides digital skills training for persons with disabilities or PWDs, unemployed youth, and full time parents so they can be hired as virtual assistants for NGOs and social enterprises around the world.

To solve the problem of unemployment, Virtualahan is using to the power of technology and the internet - which is why we must also work to improve the internet services in the country, Mr. President!

But back to our innovative businesses, Mr. President, HealthBlocks, Cropital, Virtualahan are just 3 of over 200,000 start-ups in the Philippines with the potential to solve our country's problems and contribute to the lives of Filipinos through the products they create and the jobs they generate.

This Innovative Startup Act aims to give these startups a better chance of succeeding by reducing barriers to their success.

This policy seeks to support innovative startups, first, through financial subsidies like tax breaks and grants; second, through ease of doing business through their registration; and third, through technical assistance and training programs.

Plus, there is a provision for an Innovative Startup Venture Fund of 1 billion pesos that startups can apply for.

Through this measure, innovative startups will also be entitled to free use of equipment, facilities, and other services from government agencies, such as testing and fabrication facilities, and services for the patenting or licensing of their product with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines.

Mr. President, let's take this opportunity to empower our innovators and entrepreneurs with a heart for nation-building.

Ipasa po natin ang Innovative Startup Act at himukin ang ating mga makabagong negosyante na lumikha ng mga solusyon para sa bayan! Maraming salamat po, Mr. President, and I encourage all of my colleagues to support Senate Bill 1532, under Committee Report No. 142, the Innovative Startup Act. Maraming Salamat, Mr. President.

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