MSME Resilience Summit highlights finance programs and policies

In celebration of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Week, enterprise leaders and key representatives from the government, the humanitarian sector, and the business sector gathered for the 2020 National MSME Resilience e-Forum: Business Continuity Towards the “New Normal” which was held from July 14 to 16.  The 3rd Day of the MSME e-Forum focused on finance program and  policies that support resilience initiatives.


“In an effort to help businesses cope with the pandemic, we have been undertaking coordinated efforts with our members and local chambers spread out across the country to ensure government guidelines and new policies reach the local business community. Our local chambers have been very responsive in adopting programs and championing policy measures within their areas to reduce risks to employees and costs to businesses especially MSMEs and the economy as a whole”, PCCI President, Amb. Benedicto V. Yujuico, said during his opening remarks in the e-Forum.


He pointed out the importance of policy support from the public-private collaboration necessary to ensure MSME resilience in the Philippines.


Moreover, Amb. Yujuico mentioned the PCCI signed a memorandum with SB Corporation to operationalize and facilitate the grant of loans to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that are now seeking to reboot their operations that were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The P300 million loan facility, under the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program, will be made available to MSMEs accredited by PCCI and its local chambers.


PHILEXPORT President, Mr. Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr., also gave his opening remarks and stressed that “there is no turning back” for MSMEs if they are to survive and thrive in the new economy, one “powered by technology, fueled by information, and driven by knowledge.”


He believes that the pandemic has reaffirmed the need to upgrade processes for enhanced efficiency, cost competitiveness, and business continuity.


Furthermore, he called on MSMEs to cope with the challenges and impact of the pandemic—to tap  programs designed to help them upgrade skills and processes.


Mr. Lito M. Villanueva, EVP and Chief Innovation Officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), discussed the latest proffers for MSMEs to digitalize their business payment and banking systems using the DisakarTech app, which is an e-Payment System for MSMEs that aims to scale burdens for community-based inclusive businesses across the country.


DiskarTech is an app that exemplifies innovation and collaboration. DiskarTech users can easily and quickly create their own basic deposit accounts through one-time registration via an electronic know-your-customer (eKYC) digital process. Opening a DiskarTech digital savings account does not require an initial amount or maintaining balance.


Also during the e-Forum, Mr. Frank Lloyd Gonzaga, Vice President for Planning and Advocacy of Small Business Corporation, discussed the  status of the CARES Program, a P1.0 billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing (ERF) facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) to support Micro and Small businesses affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.


“The CARES Program seeks to help MSEs, affected by COVID-19, to restart and recover their businesses by providing financial loans with flexible terms and processes”, Mr. Gonzaga said.


Mr. Noel Clarence M. Ducusin, Chief Program Division of Agricultural Credit Policy Council, also discussed another financial program for MSEs, Farmers and Fisher folks, which is the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid COVID-19) Program.


The SURE Aid COVID-19 Program aims to assist the MSEs, rice farmers and fisher folks whose incomes were affected by the COVID-19.  Under the Small Agri-Negosyo Loan, there would be a minimum loanable amount of P300,000 and maximum loanable amount of P15 million with zero (0) interest and one-time service fee only up to 3.5 %.


As the businesses reopen while the COVID-19 infections persist, Mr. Guillermo M. Luz, Chief Resilience Officer of Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), purveyed a discussion on how to balance health and economy in the time of pandemic.


“While there have been improvements introduced in the last three months, we are not yet out of the woods. We will need to muster greater coordination and cooperation to pull together to get us out of this problem. Opening up the economy safely to enable more people to regain their livelihoods and income will require a delicate balancing act”, Mr. Luz said.


He emphasized that balancing the economy and health is the same way as running a business -- there is great importance to establish a policy that would give harmonious result or profit in the end.


He mentioned that the expanded testing is just one aspect of the health equation necessary for enabling the safe opening of the economy. Contact tracing, quarantine and isolation, and treatment are also part of that equation. Of these three items, contact tracing needs the most work. The Task Force T3 (Test, Trace and Treat) has been instrumental in addressing the problem between the conjunction of health and economy.


Supporting resilience initiatives between the private and public partnership gives a clear direction towards business recovery and continuity, he added.


This e-forum was made possible through the collaborative efforts of DTI, the Department of Science and Technology, Office of Civil Defense, PDRF, PCCI, PHILEXPORT, Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management-Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center.