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Breaking Through: Market Access Potential for MSMEs in the Philippines

Posted: 2018-07-03
Presentation 1: MSMES and Market Access: Findings from a Philippines National Survey (Amar Nijhawan)
Presentation 2 and Panel Discussion 1: Entrepreneurial Drivers of AgTech in the Philippines (Jurise Oliveros)
Presentation 3 and Panel Discussion 2: The Case of Using Blockchain Transactional Technology to Provide Democratization and Transparency for Philippine Coffee Growers (Kai Chang, Scott Tupper, and Carmel Laurino)
Presentation 4 and Panel Discussion 3: The Role of Business Associations on SME Development and Market Access (Tristan Canare)

The Asia Pacific Foundation (APF) of Canada in partnership with Asian Institute of Management Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competitiveness held the research and policy event entitled, “Breaking Through: Market Access Potential for MSMEs in the Philippines” last 3 July 2018 at Meralco Case Room, Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.

The research and policy workshop aims to explore obstacles and opportunities that domestic and regional MSMEs experience around market access. Four presenters and two reactors presented market access issues focusing on gender, environmental sustainability, issues facing young entrepreneurs, and more. The goal of the workshop is to create a dialogue around the ideas brought forward by the researchers and develop their findings into policy recommendations.

Ms. Alisha Clancy (Program Manager, APF Canada) opened the program by introducing the work of APF Canada in the Philippines. She explained their work on SMEs through policy research (convening policy experts to develop policy recommendations) and creating tools and training opportunities for MSMEs.

Dr. Jamil Paolo Francisco (Associate Dean of AIM and Executive Director of AIM RSN PCC) welcomed the participants. He highlighted that although majority of firms are SMEs and they contribute more than 60 percent of the jobs, they still have lower productivity. He noted the importance of looking at MSMEs and the challenges they face, specifically market access, as one way of promoting shared prosperity.

Ms. Amar Nijhawan (Project Specialist, APF Canada) presented the results of the national survey collected from 437 Philippine MSME entrepreneurs. The lack of international experience among MSMEs entrepreneurs in the Philippines is a notable barrier to reaching international markets.

Ms. Jurise Oliveros (University of Colombia) presented her study on AgTech groups in the Philippines. She highlighted the dearth of data on AgTech hence the study was based on 182 sample from online database. Results show that the opportunity is in the innovative food category, food ecommerce, and meal kits.

Ms. Celina Agaton (Managing Director, MapPH) shared their current work on mapping the Philippines while overlapping with Ms. Oliveros’ findings and reflecting MapPH’s work for five years.

A joint presentation by Mr. Kai Chang (Founder, Kai Analytics), Mr. Scott Tupper (Founder,, and Ms. Carmel Laurino (Founder, Kalsada Coffee) focused on the use of blockchain in ensuring the traceability of sourcing raw materials directly from the farmers.

In the afternoon session, Mr. Tristan Canare (Associate Director and Senior Economist of AIM RSN PCC) delved on the role of business associations on SME market access. Regression analysis of survey results show that SMEs who are members of business organizations are more likely to have more access to more geographic markets, to partner with large and foreign firms, to export, and to expand.

In his reaction, Mr. Crisanto Frianeza (Secretary General of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry), highlighted that they receive 30-40 trade inquiries in a day, but only bigger sized companies can respond. He noted the age-old problems in access to finance and noted the role of blockchain technology.

The forum ended with a breakout session where the participants further discussed what was presented and suggested policy recommendations.


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