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Uplifting the country’s SMEs and homegrown brands

In photo (L-R) are Lucien C. Dy Tioco, executive vice-president of PhilSTAR Media Group; Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; host RJ Ledesma; Ara Mina of Hazelberry Café; Carrie Nakpil of Paymongo; Tim Yap of Yaparazzi; James Gasara of Rush Technologies; and Miguel G. Belmonte, president and chief executive officer of PhilSTAR Media Group, during the launch of “Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global” at Casa Buenas in Newport City last June 15.

By Josielyn Luna-Manuel, Special Features Editor

With the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) comprising 99.51% of the Philippines’ business enterprises which also employ about 63% of the country’s workforce, MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Philippine economy.

Aiming to put the spotlight on the country’s SMEs and proudly-made Filipino products, PhilSTAR Media Group (composed of The Philippine STAR, BusinessWorld, The Freeman, and Pilipino Star Ngayon) officially launched last June 15 its year-long advocacy program dubbed as “Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic greatly challenged almost all industries including the SME segment. But with determination, creativity and diskarte, Filipino SMEs have been striving to rise above the crisis and continue to keep their businesses alive and serve their customers in the best way they know,” said Lucien C. Dy Tioco, PhilSTAR Media Group’s executive vice-president.

He added, “As the country’s biggest print-based multimedia company, we in the PhilSTAR Media Group believe in the power of local SMEs to drive our economy forward and continue building our nation. We value the important role they play, we are so inspired by their extreme passion even amid a crisis, and we are in awe of their unmatched resilience. Through Nakakalocal, we are honored to use our multimedia platforms to give back to our SMEs, to empower them, to help them grow further, and to lead them to doors of many possibilities.”

This June and in the coming months, the PhilSTAR Media Group has prepared an exciting lineup of events that will encourage everyone to support the country’s SMEs and homegrown businesses, and provide learning opportunities for them. These include online features, fun bazaars, enriching talks, e-convention, and business pitching and mentoring, among others.

Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Mr. Ramon M. Lopez also graced the event and expressed support to the Nakakalocal initiative. He shared that there are 2.3 million registered and an estimated seven million unregistered MSMEs in the country and projects like DTI’s Go Lokal! and PhilSTAR Media Group’s Nakakalocal will definitely boost the Filipino MSMEs.

“Micro [enterprises] should not remain micro forever. Let’s help them grow bigger. There’s bayanihan now especially during the pandemic,” Mr. Lopez said, adding that private-partnership is really vital to help MSMEs bounce back from the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrity entrepreneurs Tim Yap, founder of Yaparazzi Event + PR; and Ara Mina, founder of Hazelberry Café; as well as Carrie Nakpil, relations manager of fintech startup Paymongo; and James Gasara, chief growth officer of loyalty and eCommerce software service company Rush Technologies, participated in a panel discussion moderated by entrepreneur and host RJ Ledesma.

Panelists shared their entrepreneurship journey and gave pieces of advice for aspiring and current entrepreneurs.

“Always be curious and identify opportunities. It’s not going to be smooth-sailing and perfect all the time. Roadblocks are just a hump, learn from the lessons,” Tim Yap shared.

For Ms. Ara Mina, passion and confidence are keys to succeed in business. “Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t be shy to ask questions. Research, develop and always improve your products,” she advised.

Mr. Gasara said that it’s okay to change the direction of your plans if needed and to embrace change. Meanwhile, Ms. Nakpil emphasized the value of grit and perseverance, more than talent, to achieve goals.

The PhilSTAR Media Group is also looking for “STAR36 SMES” which they will help in promoting their businesses. To be part of this, the applicant SME should be a registered business, with products that present a unique value, has a strong and patriotic vision, supports sustainability, and is ethical and socially responsible.

A STAR SMES Product Exhibit, led by PhilSTAR Media Group President and Chief Executive Officer Miguel G. Belmonte, Secretary Lopez, and Mr. Dy Tioco, was also unveiled featuring five of the already selected STAR SMEs.

These include LivClean PH, a brand of natural, eco-friendly surface cleaners that are free from harmful and toxic chemicals, and advocates for the Philippine agriculture industry by using Calamansi; FIRST for WOMEN/FIRST for MEN, a brand of natural skincare products that celebrates clean beauty, sustainably made with plant-powered ingredients from the Philippines and Swiss bioactives; Renegade Folk, a brand that creates comfortable leather footwear that is designed and handcrafted by local artisans of Marikina; Everyday Coffee, an e-commerce coffee company that offers various high-quality green bean coffee sourced all over the world, roasted upon order, and delivered right to your doorstep; and De Kalidad Kesong Puti, a food business that started in the midst of the pandemic and aims to promote the local cheese industry and support local farmers.

Mr. Dy Tioco also held a contract signing with representatives of some of the Nakakalocal partners.

Nakakalocal is presented by The Philippine STAR Media Group, in cooperation with Ortigas Malls, Robinsons Malls, SM Supermalls, Vistamall, Coffee Project, AllHome, AllDay Supermarket, Converge and RCBC Diskartech; with the support of San Miguel Corp., Trimotors Technology Corp., Bajaj Philippines, SGV and Entrego; with partner organizations DTI Philippines, Go Negosyo, Ayala Enterprise Circle, Pili Lokal, Rush and Yabang Pinoy, with media partners ABS-CBN, GMA and OneNews.

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