Aboitiz Foundation, UnionBank unlock the potential of MSMEs in the digital age
Aboitiz Foundation and Union Bank of the Philippines launched “Byaheng Digiskarte: Enabling Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSMEs) with Innovation and Technology,” an event that aims to share ways in improving businesses and reaching consumers with the use of digital resources. During the event organized by the International Council for Small Business Philippines (ICSB Ph) in celebration of the MSME Day this year, the corporate social responsibility arm of the Aboitiz Group, shared its story as to why they initiated the program.
“This began at the onset of the pandemic lockdown in 2020. We saw how the MSMEs struggled to stay afloat while the pandemic raged on in the country. The pandemic caused the lockdowns and closure of some markets which severely disrupted the agricultural and non-agricultural sector, where many of our assisted MSMEs were a part of. We all know that the MSMEs are key drivers of our economy and provide the biggest impact to the well-being of Filipinos because they generate 63% employment amongst Filipinos,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Marasigan.
“We saw how the MSMEs struggled to stay afloat while the pandemic raged on in the country. The pandemic caused the lockdowns and closure of some markets, which severely disrupted the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, where many of our assisted MSMEs were a part. We all know that the MSMEs are key drivers of our economy and provide the biggest impact on the well-being of Filipinos because they generate 63% of employment among Filipinos,” ICSB Ph president Enrique Caeg said.
From the urgent need to contribute to the community’s recovery along with the opportunity for profitable growth for MSMEs, the Aboitiz Foundation then coined the term “ma-Digiskarte”, which denotes the proficient use of digital technology for businesses to thrive and adapt in these changing times. “Why should you take your business online? First, e-commerce is borderless. You can sell anytime anywhere and you generate revenue 24/7. It also means lower cost. Why? Because the cost of online stores outdates offline stores. Maintenance is limited, if it’s possible that there is no rental cost as inventories are sometimes stored in homes. Lastly, operational efficiency. It is fast because you are online, it is faster to start the business,” Trade assistant secretary Jean Pacheco said.
The local enterprise owners and the audience had the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade in creating business solutions for obstacles that arose during the pandemic. “UnionBank is proud to be at the forefront of introducing and developing innovative financial services that are relevant to the needs of these enterprises. And we are even prouder that we are a bank that has started to break the notion that banks are only for big corporations and high-network individuals,” UnionBank Commercial Banking Center head Roberto Abastillas said.
As speakers covered the nuances of being ready in the digital world, the audience was taught mental tools to use to understand their businesses better. UnionBank SME and Micropreneurs segment head Jaypee Soliman discussed the importance of online presence and visibility, while UnionBank Merchant Acquiring and Payment Gateway head Gerry Austria explored customers’ habits and ideals with his listeners. In addition, Aboitiz Foundation Manager of the Enterprise Development Program Gero Torres introduced how local enterprises can digitize business operations regardless of which industry, as demonstrated by Sahoy Farm’s agricultural business model equipped with a technological approach. It was said that Sahoy Farm became digitally equipped through the creation of an online platform and an efficient system of purchasing and delivery. “We are not just farmers, we are also entrepreneurs,” a member of SG Farmers Association Inc. said.
The event attended by Aboitiz Foundation president and COO Maribeth Marasigan also offered products, services, and post-conference mentoring courses (beginner to advanced) that aimed to teach attendees how to digitize their businesses, improve their customer base, and reduce the cost of business operations. ‘Byaheng Digiskarte’ project is a mentoring program of the Aboitiz Foundation in partnership with UnionBank aimed to help MSMEs and cooperatives develop a digital mindset and use appropriate tools and approaches to help in their recovery and business operations. #