MANILA, Philippines — A new multi-sectoral private-public partnership initiative was launched on Wednesday to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSME) in the country get access to much-needed funding, considered one of the greatest challenges of MSMEs in the country today.
Called SMEPlus, the loan portal will provide an avenue for small business owners to post their funding requirements for their respective enterprises, which would then give banks an idea on which financial instruments to offer MSMEs.
The portal aims to address the current market need to match borrowers to funders and vice-versa, enabling banks to secure transactions while ensuring that small businesses get the funding they need.
Developed in collaboration with telecom firm Eastern Communications, which provided the technical infrastructure to make the portal possible, the website is said to be accessible by the end of the month.
But aside from providing a venue for MSMEs and banks to interact with each other and provide funding, FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurs (FFE), which led the initiative, said the portal would expand to provide other services to MSMEs.
In Phase 2 of the project, for example, the services will be expanded to improve MSMEs’ ability to access new markets, which is a critical move for growth.
“Phase 3 will help them improve their productivity and efficiency, while Phase 4 will help them become locally and regionally competitive,” Said FFE President Roberto Borromeo.
“Eventually, it will become a dynamic system to provide other services in the areas of IT, trading, marketing, skills development and operational consultancy,” he added.
The project dovetails the new MSME Access to Finance Program, a collaboration between government financial institutions, agencies, as well as private banks to improve the MSME space in the country, a project also unveiled on Wednesday.
Participants in the program include the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and other government agencies.
Private banks that are part of the initiative are BPI Family Bank, Security Bank, EastWest Bank, Philippine Business Bank, Plantersbank, GM Bank, and Small Business Corporation.
In his keynote address, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo stressed the need to further financial assistance to MSMEs in the government’s goal of achieving inclusive growth for the Philippines.
“SMEs are one of the primary ways in which we can plow through economic growth,” Domingo said. “That is why in our programs now, the DTI and the government are aligning our efforts to support SMEs.”
The DTI official likewise touted the agency’s efforts to automate critical citizen-facing services such as the processing of business registration permits, which he said directly helps SMEs since “most of the registrations we get are SMEs.”
In its latest tally, the government estimates that about 99.6 percent of enterprises in the country fall under the MSME category.
Domingo also shared the recent establishment of the Philippine Business Registry, a Web-based system that acts as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs seeking to establish their business in the country.
He also touted the efforts to spread automation nationwide through the business process licensing system, which standardizes business process application in local governments.
Of the 480 cities and municipalities targeted by the DTI for the system, Domingo said 250 are already enrolled in the system.
“We’re just starting. We are going to automate a lot more of our services, because automation is key,” he stressed.