Josiah Go, chairman and founder of Day 8 Business Academy, believes that the future for Philippine microentrepreneurs is bright. "There are many new ventures, opportunities and untapped markets around," he said in an e-mail.
Microenterprises — very small businesses, usually of five employees or fewer — form the bedrock of the country's micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector. According to a 2009 report from the Department of Trade and Industry, 91.4% (710,822) of MSMEs are microenterprises. In turn, MSMEs make up 99.6% of all business enterprises operating in the Philippines.
Thus, the importance of microenterprise is not to be underestimated. "MSMEs provide jobs, contribute to taxes, create surplus wealth and purchasing power, develop investments, and generate economic activities for the Philippines," Mr. Go said.
For the many microentrepreneurs in the country or those hoping to become one, there are plenty of resources available from both the public and private sectors.
The Rural Microenterprise Enterprise Promotion Program (RuMEPP) is a government program that aims to reduce rural poverty in 19 provinces by increasing economic development, creating jobs, and providing better incomes through profitable and sustainable microenterprises. RuMEPP is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which will provide microcredit for individual and group investment in microenterprises.
RuMEPP also provides technical and management support at all levels, including training in socioeconomic planning and management skills, vocational training, and marketing.
For microentrepreneurs seeking to expand their skill sets, the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP-ISSI) offers training modules all year round. Modules include "appreciation workshop on entrepreneurship," which orients participants on entrepreneurship, how to assess personal entrepreneurial readiness, and how to find sources of assistance in setting up a business; "accounting for non-accountants;" and "start your own business."
The private sector has its own offerings as well, such as Mr. Go's Day 8 Business Academy. Founded in 2010, Day 8 is a social enterprise project of Mansmith and Fielders, aimed at people involved with starting or running MSMEs. The academy offers pay-what-you-want and free quarterly keynote seminars for entrepreneurs.
"Seminars are practical, short, and direct to the point, with many networking opportunities in between," said Mr. Go.
Participants can assemble their own three-hour seminars from over 50 topics, depending on their needs. The academy also offers two-day courses such as "entrepreneurship strategy" and "innovation boot camp," which cover the end-to-end aspects of entrepreneurship.
According to Mr. Go, Day 8 also has offerings for entrepreneurs whose MSMEs are in deep trouble. "Those who want more in-depth monitoring can apply for a slot in our free turnaround master class," he said.
Aside from seminars and classes, Day 8 also offers funding opportunities for MSME owners who have innovative ideas coupled with a solid track record in execution, courtesy of the academy's founders who are also angel investors.
Mr. Go also said that learning entrepreneurship doesn't always have to happen in a classroom. "We encourage potential entrepreneurs to be lifelong learners by reading books, articles [and] cases, attend seminars and conventions, find mentors, have learning luncheons, watch videos of cases to gain ideas from, attend exhibits to learn new ideas and trends, or join a business club to network."
Another primary concern for those looking to start their own businesses is finding the money to do so. These days, besides borrowing from banks, budding entrepreneurs have other avenues open to them.
Lenddo, founded in 2011, uses members' reputation on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as a way to establish their creditworthiness and provide them with capital they may otherwise have no access to. They can then use the money to start their own microenterprises or for other "life-improving loans."
The online lender uses a "Trusted Network" to vouch for the borrower's reputation and character. In order to qualify for a loan, the borrower has to connect his profile to those of people he trusts, so they can vouch for him. The relationship goes both ways, and the borrower's behavior on Lenddo affects the creditworthiness of the members of his network.
"Your reputation with friends and family is the best incentive for on-time repayment," said Richard Eldridge, co-founder of Lenddo, in a talk at the College of St. Benilde.
The social media approach, especially in a Facebook-hooked country like the Philippines, has resulted in plenty of members for the company. "We have around 40,000 members at the moment," said Erika Aquino, community development director at Lenddo Philippines.
Overall, there are many resources available to Philippine microentrepreneurs, whether they are just starting out or trying to develop an existing business. But, Mr. Go reminds them that any endeavor has to start from within: "The start of an entrepreneurship venture begins with the entrepreneur himself — his skills and spirit are the twin foundation of his business venture."
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