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DOST’s Tech Programme Inspires Philippine MSMEs

Image credit: www.dost.gov.ph

The Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology (DOST) regional office has aided micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Central Luzon through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Programme (SETUP).

The programme provides technical and technological assistance to MSMEs to enable them to improve their production capabilities by infusing science and technology (S&T) interventions. Under SETUP, the assistance provided to MSMEs includes equipment upgrades, food safety standards consultancies, production improvements, and product labelling.

The regional SETUP programme manager said that more than USD 120,000 has been allocated as assistance to six SMEs. They said that the MSME-beneficiaries will use the financial assistance to acquire equipment, machinery, and technology to boost their productivity.

They particularly cited the case of one MSME, a programme second-phaser from Bulacan that has been granted assistance to acquire the enhanced “nutribun” technology developed by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).  They said that the project is expected to have a significant impact in the fight against hunger and malnutrition especially among children in this time of the pandemic.

The agency is encouraging small businesses to avail themselves of the SETUP assistance. They are positive that their terms are customer-friendly and they make sure that they are with the adopters every step of the way so they can achieve success together.

For this year, more than USD 3 million has been downloaded to DOST Region 3 (Central Luzon) for SETUP projects to fund 60 projects of MSMEs. As of May 2021, the agency said that a total of 13 projects have been approved and another 20 have been endorsed for processing.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, a similar project was launched by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF). They presented their various projects supporting MSMEs during the recent online launch of the “Biyaheng Digiskarte” Project. The agency presented SIKAP, Synergising Recovery Initiatives, Knowledge, and Adaptation Practices for MSMEs—a unified online resilience hub that provides information on the latest available loans, programmes, and online events specifically for MSMEs in the Philippines.

SIKAP also offers mentorship opportunities for MSMEs provided by industry leaders and experts, with some tracks focused on digital transformation. SIKAP is in partnership with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the Connecting Business Initiative.

Like SIKAP, the “Biyaheng Digiskarte: Digitalisation of Small Businesses for Recovery and Competitiveness” is a mentoring programme that aims to equip MSMEs with the knowledge and skills in using appropriate digital tools and technologies to aid in their business recovery. It is designed to help individual entrepreneurs, cooperative members and officers, and community-based organisations assess their digital readiness in a time when the digital transformation has become the key to success in the constantly changing circumstances.

They defined “Digiskarte” as the use of digital tools, approaches and innovations in doing business, incorporating gadgets, the Internet, social media, and online platforms in business strategies. This new approach allows MSMEs to expand their customer base and sell their products and services online. It also enables more efficient and cost-effective coordination along the supply chain, streamlining raw materials sourcing, logistics, warehousing, payments, and remote work setups.

The project will develop learning modules and materials. These will be conducted in various formats: webinars, coaching/mentoring, self-directed exercises, and experience-sharing opportunities with co-mentees. The project will also establish a pool of volunteer expert mentors and establish partnerships with organisations with existing MSME development programmes such as SIKAP, Go Negosyo, Philippine Partnerships for Sustainable Agriculture, and many others.

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