The Department of Trade and Industry never stops from helping micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) even with quarantine restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Taking inspiration from last week’s national virtual OTOP (One Town, One Product) PLDT Ka-Asenso virtual fair, DTI 6 regional director Rebecca Rascon said they will hold a virtual trade fair but on a smaller scale.
“We are thinking of having that also in November here, the “Panublion” (Heritage). (It is) virtual but we are thinking of putting up a small physical display if allowed by SM,” she said.
Panublion is an annual event led by the DTI regional office that gathers the best products from Western Visayas.
She said previously, participants of the five-day Panublion held in Iloilo earned almost P8 million.
As a preparation, the DTI will hold localized online training patterned after the series of training of their central office focusing on how to sell online and what to do when paying online.
“We are always inviting MSMEs to attend webinars for them to understand the challenges when selling online,” she said.
DTI also continues with its product development, which is done virtually and face to face.
“It is a blended activity because you cannot be online when you do product development,” she said, adding that designers have to evaluate the completeness of designs via face to face.
Designers have prepared the prototype and MSMEs have only to execute.
“The MSMEs are assisted in sourcing out their materials. We will help them produce in preparation for the virtual fair in November,” Rascon added.
Meanwhile, the virtual fair last week was the second to promote the OTOP products, she said. The first was OTOP Pasinaya.
However, while the 20 exhibitors that joined the first virtual fair earned P1.3 million, the second activity only earned close to half a million pesos for the 62 exhibitors from the region.
She said probably, it is the timing because normally, during the months of July, August, and September the priority of consumers is crops and education.
“Despite the pandemic, people are still prioritizing education, pay tuition, buy books and gadgets. Still, we are hopeful that there will be a follow-up matching with our buyers,” she said.
Of the 62 exhibitors, 40 were non-food and 22 were food items.
She said the resiliency of the MSMEs could never be underestimated amid the pandemic.
Aside from fairs and online training, DTI also extends financial assistance through its financing arm, the Small Business Corporation, to qualified MSMEs. The evaluation of forms is still ongoing and if they qualify, they can be extended financial assistance to augment their business.
For equipment, MSMEs can access through shared service facilities (SSF) where they only pay a certain amount.
Rascon said they need not buy equipment and instead they use their money as additional rolling capital.
Western Visayas is also the only region that was granted three batches of the online Kapatid Mentor Me (KMMe) program that focuses on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship with 10 modules.
The first batch, composed of 45 mentees, had their online graduation last month, the second batch of 42 mentees are preparing for their culmination next week, while the third batch of 44 mentees was launched the other week.*PNA