Philippine SME Competitiveness: Barriers & Enablers
The Asian Institute of Management Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness (AIM RSN PCC), in partnership with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), held a conference entitled Philippine SME Competitiveness: Barriers and Enablers last November 29, 2017 at the Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City.
The RSN PCC aimed to identify and discuss issues surrounding the development of small and medium enterprises in the Philippines, as well as evaluate potential solutions or interventions for the sector. The conference capped a yearlong research project of the AIM RSN PCC on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines.
RSN PCC Executive Director Dr. Jamil Paolo Francisco opened the conference with remarks on the importance of SMEs to national development and on some of the general challenges to development they face. SMEs, together with micro enterprises, are one of the biggest contributors to the nation’s economy, comprising over 99 percent of Philippine firms in 2015 and employing almost 62 percent of jobs generated by business establishments in the same year, according to the Department of Trade and Industry.
The first session on Overcoming Challenges to a Successful SME Sector began with a presentation by Mr. Lemuel Magracia, President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce - Rizal, on SME and Philippine economy statistics, as well as on ease of doing business in the country. He discussed several challenges to SMEs as well as potential enablers and programs.
Department of Trade and Industry Division Chief Elvira Tan delivered a presentation on behalf of Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya of the Regional Operations Group on the “7 Ms to Foster SME Competitiveness. These include improving access to money and markets, as well as fostering the right mindset and developing capacities of SME owners.
Ma. Flordeliza Leong, Assistant Vice President of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc., focused on the challenges faced by business looking to export their goods and services, including a small national government budget for export promotion compared to the Philippines’ neighbors. AIM Professor Ronald Chua ended the first panel with his reaction. He noted that different SME sectors have different needs, and that it is important for government to pick winners from among the different players and to make bets. A panel discussion followed.
The second session covered Enablers of SME Development and Growth. AIM Professor Olivier Amprimo discussed open data and its potential to help both companies and governments innovate their processes. AIM RSN PCC Program Manager and Senior Economist Tristan Canare presented the Center’s findings on SME linkages with large business as a driver of their growth.
Asian Development Bank Financial Sector Specialist Shigehiro Shinozaki delivered a presentation on Philippine SMEs’ access to finance and potential policy interventions for improving SME financing. George Siy, Chairman Emeritus of the Anvil Business Club discussed the role of business associations in SME development as well as the potential of technology and e-commerce to connect smaller businesses with new markets.
Finally, AIM Professor Maria Elena Herrera delivered her reaction, drawing on her own experiences as Program Director of the AIM Master in Entrepreneurship program as well as on the day’s presentations to present a 4-factor lense framework on SME development. In this framework, SME success depends on Macro and regulatory factors, supply chain factors, capital and infrastructure-based factors, and leader factors.
An open forum followed the second session, before KAS Philippine Country Director Benedikt Seeman closed the conference with his remarks.
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