A sizable amount of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is driven by the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. As of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2018 data, there were 998,342 listed Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) across the country. This number could be closer to or over a million at the moment. MSMEs are increasing and thriving in the country today — a trend that is almost unprecedentedly increasing in Southeast Asia as well.
Having a natural knack for going into business, Filipinos are known to be highly enterprising. A few are even corporate employees, but have their own small businesses running. This is absolutely favourable not just for our economy, but for the productivity and generation of jobs in each Philippine municipality.
As the market continues to get saturated, however the risk of business mortality increases. This is what the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has tried to arrest through the Go Negosyo Act.
Getting Support to Strengthen Your Business
DTI’s Negosyo Centers were created in 2014 to implement the Go Negosyo Act that “fosters national development, promote inclusive growth, and reduce poverty by encouraging the establishment of MSMEs that facilitate local job creation, production and trade in the country.”
They specialise in many programs that benefit MSMEs, not just in terms of getting funding or establishing ties within the local community, but in training and other facets of sustaining the business as well. The best way for an MSME business to get connected to the DTI is by going to any of its 1,010 Negosyo Centers spread across the country. They are located in all provinces, cities, and municipalities.
Each Negosyo Center is equipped with a team that provides the following functions (including those mentioned above): business registration assistance for those who are just starting; business advisory services for proper guidance on compliance and license requirements submissions; business information and advocacy for trainings; and monitoring and evaluation for feedback and improvement. It basically serves as a support center for MSME owners for important facets of their operations.
Out of the one million or so registered MSMEs, only a little over 300,000 are currently partnered with the DTI. As the DTI is bent on reaching more MSMEs to help more business owners fulfil their mission, they partner with private companies to fulfil their objectives.
DTI’s and First Circle’s Shared Vision to Strengthen MSMEs
The DTI partnered with First Circle to provide financing for MSMEs. Knowing that Financial Technology or Fintech has reshaped and continues to innovate the financial landscape, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez welcomed the partnership.
Another component of the Go Negosyo Act is to establish a startup fund to finance the growth needs of its partner MSMEs. With the increasing number of businesses in each region (particularly in NCR and CALABARZON), it was a good move to endorse First Circle to those in need of fast and convenient financing, especially since most of them do not have collateral to exchange for funding.
In line with the partnership, First Circle also provides financial literacy to MSMEs. This is one of the primary reasons why the company partnered with DTI. First Circle believes in empowering MSMEs not just through funding their cash flow gaps, but through financial education as well.
First Circle provides fast, fair, and flexible short-term loans through its two products: Invoice Financing and Purchase Order. However, we share the same principles with Go Negosyo in terms of upskilling entrepreneurs through intangible assets. We enable businesses to reach their potential through fast financing, but sustainability means having the capability to scale through implementing operational efficiency, excellent customer service, recruiting the best people, etc.
That said, First Circle gives its own capability-building sessions to its customers through relevant educational forums. Our First Circle Connect brings seasoned entrepreneurs, corporate consultants and employees, and our customers in one room to share their knowledge and experience with each other. These sessions have also become a venue for our customers to extend their network that is value adding to their business.
Through this public-private partnership, First Circle and DTI can reach more MSMEs — who make up 90 percent of the local enterprise — at a faster rate and strengthen the sector through its services.