Industry heavyweights share their expertise at 3-day MSME Fiesta Sulong Negosyante

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 ICSB & UnionBank-powered event focused on empowering entrepreneurs through knowledge-sharing

The International Council for Small Business Philippines (ICSB PH) and Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) recently held a three-day conference and expo for micro, small, and medium enterprises or MSMEs to empower the entrepreneurs and enable them to thrive in the digital economy. The event was held at the Resorts World Manila in celebration of the United Nations' (UN) International MSME Day, observed annually every 27th of June.


Prior to the fiesta, several experts from the public and private sectors as well as the academe gathered at The Sheraton Hotel for a panel discussion that tackled the most pressing issues concerning the MSME industry.


On day one, keynote speaker Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian stressed how important it was to hold activities such as the Sulong Negosyante giving attention and recognition to MSMEs. Being an entrepreneur himself, he shared valuable learning, “We need to keep on innovating. We need to keep on finding new products and new services. We need to adapt.”


Asian Institute of Management President and Dean Dr. Jikyeong Kang; Mansmith and Fielders Inc. Chief Marketing Strategist Josiah Go; and Wong + Bernstein Advisory Group Managing Director Prof. Enrique Soriano led the discussions on the importance of lifelong education and training for MSMEs.


Other presenters focused on digital and media, supply chain and delivery, research, as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and good governance.


Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Jose Victor Chan Gonzaga talked about how they and other government organizations put in effort to promote Filipino MSMEs globally. Asian Consulting Group's Founding Chairman and Chief Tax Adviser Raymond Abrea highlighted the significance of practicing good tax management. 


UnionBank's SME and Micropreneurs Segment Head Jaypee Soliman touched on understanding the needs and challenges MSMEs face to be able to help them succeed. He pointed out the necessity for entrepreneurs to prioritize, “We need to identify the things that we have to continue doing and the things that we need to start doing. We have to stop thinking we are the solution, but start engaging MSMEs and collaborate on how we can be a solution for them.”


Philstar Media Group Executive Vice President Lucien DyTioco’s talk was on why Filipinos should support local businesses. For his part, Airspeed Express President Rick Cruzado explained the role of delivery and logistics in today's digital economy, while Hotbox Philippines Founder Romeo Joven shared about innovation using his company's self-heating box meal product as an example.


Synergy Market Research and Strategic Consultancy President Germaine Reyes discussed consumer behavior and its relation to sustainable businesses and products. To cap off the presentations, Avanza Inc. President Yayu Javier talked about sustainability and the need for MSMEs to consider aligning their goals with that of UN's 17 SDGs.


For day two, Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Mary Jean Pacheco presented the current MSME landscape in the country. UnionBank's Head of Merchant Acquiring and Payment Gateway Gerry Austria focused on the various digital banking solutions offered by UnionBank to MSMEs, while Aboitiz Foundation's Program Manager for Enterprise Development Gero Torres outlined how the Aboitiz Group has been helping MSMEs become more digitally capable.


On day three, PLDT Enterprise Head of Small and Micro Business Armie Sason underscored the value of digital business tools and reliable business internet connectivity; Insular Life Head of Customer Relations Mia Gonzales shared the benefits of taking care of employees to improve business productivity; and UN Women's Consultant for Women's Empowerment Principles Jen Dingalan enlightened entrepreneurs with the need to build a business that works for women.


Continuing the discussions for day 3, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines' Assistant Division Chief Emmelina Masanque gave an overview of the intellectual property system for MSMEs and startups; Globe Business ICT Portfolio Marketing Director Anne Leonardo touched on digital transformation for MSMEs through ICT solutions; and finally, UnionBank's Chief Information Security Officer Joey Rufo provided MSMEs tips on how they can stay #CyberSure.


“At UnionBank, we know how critical knowledge-sharing is to ensure that our MSMEs are able to thrive in the digital economy. This is one of the reasons we organized this event together with ICSB. We want our attendees to learn from the best, so they can be at their best in their businesses,” Soliman said. 


ICSB PH and UnionBank target to pursue the Negosyante MSME Fiesta events on an annual basis. Stay tuned for the next leg of events!

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