In celebration of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Week, enterprise leaders and key representatives from the government, the humanitarian sector, and the business sector gathered for the 2020 National MSME Resilience e-Forum: Business Continuity Towards the “New Normal” which was held from July 14 to 16. The event sought to highlight pandemic-related best practices and strategies for MSMEs and launch the latest e-learning tools and recovery programs for MSMEs.

“Addressing the ongoing pandemic requires actions that transcend our traditional notion of data processing, communication, and capacity-building. This health crisis is reigniting the spirit of Bayanihan between the public and private sectors in helping our MSMEs bounce back through the development of responsive policies, recovery programs, and inclusive financing mechanisms,” said Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Tackling data and communication and their role in building resilient MSMEs, the role of capacity building in ensuring pandemic productivity, and how policy and finance can support resilience initiatives, the 3-day online event also aimed to initiate fruitful partnerships among MSME owners and enablers and provide a platform for sharing best practices and resilience strategies contributing to building the resilience of the country’s business sector amid the current disaster risk reduction and management landscape.

“MSMEs are the beating heart of our economy. We need to get them back on their feet so they can help millions of Filipinos to send their children to school and lift their families out of poverty,” said PDRF President Butch Meily.

During the e-forum, PDRF also launched the MSME Guide to Disaster Resilience, an all-in-one disaster preparedness and business continuity guidebook for enterprise owners; the SIKAP (Synergizing Recovery Initiatives, Knowledge, and Adaptation Practices for MSMEs) online recovery hub; and Dimatinag: The Entrepreneur’s Unbreakable Spirit, a comic book which tells the story of resilience of a Pinay negosyo owner.

“Access to timely and accurate information is more critical during the pandemic. And this is what the MSME Resilience Core Group, where PCCI is a member, has been doing since the start of the community quarantine.  Individually, or as a group, we have been providing information to our constituents to enable them to manage the risks that the pandemic has brought to their business.  We will continue to provide the support needed by the enterprises in their journey towards recovery,” said PCCI President Ambassador Benedicto V. Yujuico.

Recovery programs and tools for MSMEs were also featured, including RCBC’s financial inclusion mobile banking app DiskarTech, Small Business Corporation’s COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) Program, and Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s SURE Aid Program for MSEs, Farmers, and Fisherfolk.

Present in support of the forum were Office of Civil Defense Administrator and NDRRMC Executive Director Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, DOST-PHIVOLCS Undersecretary Renato Solidum, Jr., Employers Confederation of the Philippines Chairman Edgardo Lacson, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center Country Program Manager Edwin Salonga, and Philippine Exporters Confederation President Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr.

The 2020 National MSME Resilience e-Forum was organized by the MSME Resilience Core Group composed of the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, Office of Civil Defense, PDRF, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Exporters Confederation, Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management-Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. Its project “Strengthening MSME Disaster Resilience in the Philippines” is supported by the Philippine Preparedness Partnership, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.