Freeman Cebu Business

DTI program aims to empower 1.3-M sari-sari store operators

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman
DTI program aims to empower 1.3-M sari-sari store operators
DTI secretary Alfredo Pascual officially launched the “Sari-Sari Store Advancement Program” in Cebu last May 24, 2024, during the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting held at the University of the Philippines Cebu Campus in Lahug.
Ehda M. Dagooc

CEBU, Philippines — Through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine government is extending assistance to 1.3 million sari-sari store operators across the country, enabling them to flourish and leverage the advantages of digitalizing their businesses.

In his recent visit to Cebu, DTI secretary Alfredo Pascual announced the launching of “Sari-Sari Store Advancement Program,” aimed at helping the sari-sari store operators learn the skills and knowledge professionally, such as applying digital transactions, eCommerce marketing, sustainability, and financial assistance.

The program was officially launched in Cebu last May 24, 2024, during the Bagong Pilipinas Town Hall Meeting held at the University of the Philippines Cebu Campus in Lahug.

Sari-sari stores considered part of the huge micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are given significant attention by the government considering that this sector is one of the unserved segments in the business ecosystem.

DTI undersecretary Ed Sunico said that the government has recognized the importance of supporting the sari-sari store owners as 94 percent of the country’s population relies on micro and small retailers or neighborhood convenience stores.

During the formal launching of the program, MSMEs including select owners of sari-sari stores from all over Visayas attended the half-day town hall attended by top officials of the DTI led by Pascual.

According to Sunico, the program aimed to reach out to the 1.3 million sari-sari stores across the Philippines, calling them to be part of the active community on social media or get in touch with their respective local Negosyo Centers to avail of the program’s benefits and opportunities, as well as networking.

DTI believes that by integrating digital technologies, MSMEs can improve operational efficiency, access broader markets, cut costs, and increase profitability.

Sunico mentioned the importance of employing digital platforms in businesses specifically for micro and small players linking local stores directly to manufacturers, facilitating cashflow-based credit through accumulated sales data, and enterprise data-driven credit scoring.

Pascual mentioned that credit facilities offered by SB Corporation (SB Corp), which is now equipped with high-tech tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to accelerate loan releases and approvals.

The trade chief told Visayan MSMEs that SB Corp now can process as fast as two days for credit facility applications.

“What used to take two to three months to decide credit, SB Corp is now able to do it in two days,” Pascual said.

The SB Corp under its various retail lending programs, released close to P2.7 billion to 14,747 MSMEs over the last four years. In total, the Visayas region assisted about 102, 000 MSMEs in 2023.

During the event, DTI also held a ceremonial distribution of financial assistance worth P8 million to the MSMEs across the Visayas region.

It also released the approved loan applications under the Rise UP program, through the “Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa” program business kits and awarded the deed of donation for the transfer of ownership of the Shared Service Facilities to MSME beneficiaries.

Pascual recognized the crucial role of the Visayas region to the country’s economic growth, contributing 14 percent to the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), with Central Visayas at seven percent,  followed by Western Visayas at five percent, and Eastern Visayas at two percent.

DTI will start monthly webinars starting June 26 with a module on upgrading business through digital solutions.

On July 24, the online business coaching will delve into online marketing strategies by utilizing social media platforms, while on August 28, the module will focus on enhancing profits through the implementation of new digital products.

Discussions scheduled for September 25 will focus on utilizing digital tools to manage store inventory effectively, while those on October 23 will cover strategies for ensuring sustainable or green operations.

“We are poised to significantly enhance the operating landscape for MSMEs through digital transformation, spearheaded in partnership with the Department of Information and Communications Technology and the private sector,” Pascual said. — (FREEMAN)

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