JULY 30, 2021, MANILA — The national MSME Resilience Core Group (RCG), co-chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and other partners, reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the disaster resilience of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during an online event last July 29.

More than 250 participants from the MSME sector, government and local representatives, academe, and the general public attended the 2021 MSME Resilience E-Forum with the theme “Trabahong Sigurado, Negosyong Matatag, Kabuhayang Nagpapatuloy.”

The e-forum presented the accomplishments and best practices of the MSME RCG and did a ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding among all the members of the group as they reaffirmed this public-private partnership and mapped out next steps to support small businesses.

Another part of the forum showcased stories of hope and innovation in adapting to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Resource speakers including Engr. Cherrys Abrigo of Sierreza, VP Jaypee Soliman of UnionBank of the Philippines, and Dir. Nigel Ebba of Bellevue Hotels and Resorts shared their resilience initiatives and highlighted the benefits of community-supported agriculture and the importance of advancing fintech to support MSME resilience and ensuring productivity through workplace safety.

PDRF President Mr. Rene Meily enumerated some of the tools and resources developed to support small businesses including the MSME Guidebook for Disaster Resilience, the SIKAP (Synergizing Recovery Initiatives, Knowledge, and Adaptation Practices for MSMEs) digital hub, the Katatagan-in-a-Box mobile app, and the DIMATINAG comic book spotlighting business continuity.

“Here in the Philippines, if we can work together to promote and protect small businesses, we can save many of our fellow Filipinos from despair and desolation and lead them into the sunlight that surely awaits us all once this pandemic ends,” said Mr. Meily.

PCCI Chairman Apolinar E. Aure described the struggles endured by the group to reinforce their advocacy and expressed his hope that the members can sustain, build on, and share what they have learned about dealing with adverse impacts of crises.

“In the Philippines, we cannot deny that natural hazards are really part of our DNA as a country because of our location. Nevertheless, we hope that when the time comes, we pass this test with flying colors,” said Chairman Aure.

In her keynote address, DTI Undersecretary Blesila A. Lantayona presented the current initiatives of the DTI aimed at supporting Filipino MSMEs. She emphasized the need for enhanced management and labor capacities and improved access to technology and innovation. 

“Let us be mindful that resilience and disaster management is a multi-agency, multi-stakeholders’ concern. No one is safe until everyone is safe. All of us are expected to act proactively to ensure the resilience of our businesses, livelihood, family, and community,” said Usec. Lantayona. “We encourage everyone to access related programs and interventions both from the public and private sectors and maximize their benefits.”

Established in 2016, the MSME Resilience Core Group is composed of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Office of Civil Defense, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management-Philippines, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. The group aims to strengthen the disaster resilience of MSMEs in the Philippines through the national roadmap and action plan.

For more information about the RCG’s activities and PDRF’s MSME initiatives, please visit www.sikap.com.ph