BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA
Majority of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Western Visayas have no business resiliency plans.
This was revealed in the Western Visayas Covid-19 Regional Recovery Program conducted by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 6 to mitigate economic losses amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.
In the study, it was stressed that the operations in the industry and services sectors in the region were disrupted by restrictions in the mobility of workers, as well as fluctuations in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While many employees welcome the flexibility and safety of work from home, MSMEs and other service and industry establishments were largely unprepared due to the absence of appropriate health defense systems, mechanisms among MSMEs and other industry and services establishments, lack of technology-enabled health and safety measures, such as thermal scanners,” the document said.
It said that majority of the MSMEs and other industry and services establishments are dependent on direct cash-based transactions and are not digitally-equipped to engage in e-commerce or immediately migrate to online transactions, cashless payments, or e-banking.
Businesses were also discontinued due to the absence of alternate products and services for online markets and other e-commerce options, it added.
The economic recovery plan pointed out these led to closures and non-operations of MSMEs and industry and services establishments that eventually resulted in the loss of income and employment of industry and services providers.
It added that the recovery of MSMEs needs government support, and that these businesses have identified the assistance they need, like access to working capital, raw materials, market linkages, and training for new technology.
“Specifically, they need support for the enhancement of productivity and constant product innovation, supply of goods for e-commerce option, availability and access to the internet to market the goods, Food and Drug Administration-ready facility, services for essential related businesses, opportunities in government projects collaboration, resumption in the delivery of supplies, availability of proper hygienic uniforms and safe transportation services, procurement of safe and protective packaging materials and supplies,” it added.
It was also stressed that officials and agencies will pursue committed approaches that would enable the region to navigate the pandemic and thrive in the “new normal”.
“It will endeavor to synergize the programs, projects and activities of tourism, trade, and industry with that of science, technology and innovation and financial services which would lead to restored dynamism in the industry and services sector and a regional economy that is resilient from health emergencies,” it added.
As part of the strategies to mitigate the coronavirus impact, there is need to provide support mechanism for startups, MSMEs, community-based organizations, and industries through technology transfer, trainings, and product development, among other services.
It said that science and technology services will contribute to the revival of economic activities and livelihood in the region through a digital transformation so that MSMEs can operate within the confines of physical distancing, changing consumer preferences, and supply chain disruptions.
Trainings on MSMEs on digital technology to access and promote local products to online markets will also be set up.*