MSMEs: Lifeblood of PH economy

All over the Philippines, entrepreneurs sell everything from food to jewelry, accessories, to health supplements. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies says 99 percent of business establishments in the country are micro, small and medium enterprises.  

Creating jobs for many Filipinos and raising the quality of life of their families, increasing trade and promoting community development, MSMEs have become the backbone of the country’s economy, helping fuel the country’s financial growth.

But many challenges hinder the growth of MSMEs, such as lack of facilities and a good marketing strategy to promote their products, as well as knowledge on how to grow and achieve success that is sustainable.

Marnie Alcantara, owner of perfume brand, Prescripto

Prescripto, Maxi Mango and Zubuchon are three MSMEs that were able to overcome challenges to grow and achieve success.

Perfume brand Prescripto started as a small home-grown enterprise. Prescripto owner Marnie Alcantara said, “On our first day as a business, my brother and I did the selling in a small stall in SM Southmall. We did not have any sales background. And like many new entrepreneurs, we worried because we were not businessmen. We did not do any marketing work—no advertising, promotions or celebrity endorsers because we could not afford them.”

Soft serve dessert brand Maxi Mango was founded by a young married couple Miki and Ivan Velasquez, who had their roots in Davao. Miki said, “We were OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] in London. We decided to come home to start our own business. We launched our first Maxi Mango pop-up with a lot of trepidation.” 

Sustainability is a key measure of success for Maxi Mango and other MSMEs. Starting out as a soft serve ice cream business, Maxi Mango worked with different ingredients and flavors and struck gold by focusing on one flavor:  mango float in a cup. The innovation has helped Maxi Mango firmly establish itself as a viable enterprise.

Miki and Ivan Velasquez, owners of soft serve dessert brand Maxi Mango

But for Miki, it was not just the growth of their enterprise that made their venture worthwhile. “A lot of pride comes from being able to provide jobs for Filipinos. When we started, we said, ‘We’re giving jobs to two people, my husband and myself.’ Then we had three employees. Now, with over 34 branches, we have over 40, maybe more. And we employ the young, senior citizens, we give opportunities to everyone.” Miki said.

Joel Binamira, owner of Cebu-based lechon restaurant Zubuchon, said, “Anthony Bourdain very kindly said Zubuchon was the best pig he’d ever eaten. Ten months after we served Mr. Bourdain, some of my staff sold our products at a weekend market to make some extra money. A writer was able to get a taste of our food, and then we got featured in a Cebu newspaper. That’s how the business started.”

By developing and nurturing a broad customer base and finding prime locations, the three small enterprises have thrived and grown. The modest enterprises are just some of the thousands of MSMEs that received a big boost when they were able to partner with SM Supermalls.

Having started as a small business itself, SM Supermalls has opened its doors to thousands of MSMEs all over the country.

“These MSMEs are considered the main drivers of the economy, which is why there is a need to support their journey. At SM, 70 percent of our tenants—more than 14,000 of them—are MSMEs,” said SM Supermalls chief operating officer Steven Tan.

Joel Binamira, owner of lechon restaurant Zubuchon

The exposure the small businesses achieved by locating in a major mall chain helped their ideas, products and services gain traction.

“The partnership with SM has yielded growth for us. SM supports its tenants and the locations they’ve given us have led to expansion that we’re very, very happy with,” said Binamira.

In addition to good location, SM also provides MSMEs with access to their Data Recovery Facility, or the Business Continuity Program, as part of its Disaster Risk Reduction efforts. 

SM tenants are given free data storage facility for their operational and insurance documents so that they can easily make their claims for insurance payment to facilitate their businesses’ recovery after a disaster, as well as bounce forward instead of starting from scratch because important data is saved, and easily retrieved. 

“Assisting our MSME tenants in various ways helps SM Supermalls achieve its own goal to grow the retail industry in the country, and as such, everyone benefits,” said Tan.

Topics: Philippine Institute for Development Studies , micro small and medium enterprises , MSMEs , Philippine economy
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