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New online platform to boost operations of MSMEs in the Philippines

The Philippine government is greeting the new year on a high note with a new addition to the roster of innovative projects it is implementing as part of its digital transformation. According to a statement, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced that it has launched a new website that will allow business owners in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (MIMAROPA) to showcase their products and services to the public. 

The department added that with the launch of the new site, island-based enterprises in the region will be able to make their products known without the need to travel. The website, called Mimaropa Ventures PH, will feature community-based businesses that the DOST has supported through funding and technology-sharing. 

Visitors of the website must initially complete registration. After registering, they will then be able to browse through contact details of manufacturers and business owners. 

Those who are on the lookout for personal items can leaf through the website’s catalogue of products and services. The public can also visit the site for online trading purposes. The DOST explained that the site will introduce food items like biscuits and rice cakes. These products shall be categorised according to provinces and can be easily perused through drop-down selections. 

Mimaropa Ventures PH was first introduced to the public through a Virtual Exhibit that is currently being hosted by DOST Mimaropa until January 2021. The site was part of a string of undertakings that the department has rolled out as it celebrated its National Science and Technology Week.  

Aside from showcasing the new Mimaropa site, the online exhibit features some of the technologies and programs that the DOST has lined up for small businesses as it continues to improve its services through digitalisation. A 3D tour of digital booths informs visitors of scholarships that the department provides. The tour also unveils various projects like the DOST-Up programme which aims to support entrepreneurs. The online tour likewise provides insights on various products and services of the DOST like the Nutribun and Tubig Talino programmes. 

Like most government agencies, the DOST is intent on streamlining existing operations amid restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, it implemented its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP. This undertaking provides a nationwide blueprint that can help the government address the needs of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).  

The SETUP project aims to assist these small enterprises as they navigate their way through a new era characterised by low demands for products in the local market. The department does this by introducing technological innovations to MSMEs that they can adopt to improve their products and services and in the long-term, increase their business productivity. Some of the priority sectors of the programme include the food processing, furniture, agriculture and metals and engineering industries. 

The purpose of SETUP is to provide human resource training, assist in the establishment of product standards, introduce database management systems and provide help in terms of technology acquisition and infusion of appropriate innovative frameworks to improve current operations of enterprises. 

Aside from MSMEs, many sectors in the economy are reaping the benefits of government-led initiatives toward digitalisation. One of these industries is manufacturing. 

In a recent report by OpenGov Asia, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the manufacturing sector stands to benefit from the adoption of ‘smarter’ technology. Key stakeholders during a virtual Summit explained that the government should be at the fore of cultivating an environment of innovation among businesses. Government agencies must ensure that there is a conducive policy environment as well as open collaboration between the public and private sectors in order to promote investment and spark growth in the manufacturing sector. 

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