DAVAO CITY—The traditionally reserved and predominantly rural Maguindanao provinces in central Mindanao are poised for a transformative shift in their business and social landscape. A group of social-media trainees is set to embark on a journey towards online entrepreneurship in the autonomous region in the South.
At least 25 residents have applied for business permits to embark on pioneering online entrepreneurship following the completion of a seven-day intensive social media marketing training. These individuals are now prepared to integrate information and communication technology to effectively promote their products and services in the virtual realm.
“We have seen many opportunities in social marketing in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Embrace your knowledge and skills, especially in social media as a main platform for doing business,” said Mario Cuñado, regional director of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).
He also commended the graduates for their strong desire and determination to expand their skills and potential, not only to improve themselves but also to contribute to the economic progress of the region.
While online entrepreneurship has flourished globally during the Covid-19 pandemic, the predominantly rural Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)—home to some of the country’s most impoverished provinces—has lagged behind, primarily due to the absence of even the most basic access to electricity, let alone broadband connectivity.
But because online entrepreneurship continued to grow beyond being just a fad in this country, all nooks and crannies of the Philippines will be reached by this viral trend in online cloud technology.
The DICT and the Bangsamoro Ministry of Trade, Investments and Tourism (MTIT) have opened a training under the former’s Digital Jobs PH Training Program to address the unemployment rate and improve the capacity of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the BARMM.
Those who completed the training graduated at the Em Manor Hotel in Cotabato City last week.
MTIT Director II Roy Ladiasan said DICT’s initiative is seen to contribute widely to the advancement of MSMEs in the region, comprising the mainland Mindanao provinces of Maguindanao, divided now into Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, and the southwestern Mindanao island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. The island provinces were collectively and informally referred to as the country’s southern backdoor.
“This milestone is implemented to help you become more innovative and develop strategies for selling and promoting products in social marketing,” Ladiasan added.
He said the MTIT and the DICT would play a vital role in economic development via online marketing.
“We offer and implement a number of programs and projects to combat unemployment and increase employability through online [platforms],” Cuñado said, noting that social media “is creating various opportunities for young people and entrepreneurs during the pandemic.”
The participants underwent training in various ICT-related tasks focused on promoting products and services. This included instruction in website development, social media content planning, business blogging, search engine optimization, and email marketing. Additionally, they received insights into the relevant laws, including the Data Privacy Law, Cybercrime Law, and Digital Marketing Ethics.
Ivan Lawrence Cornel, owner of Taho Cotabato City Project, said he appreciated the efforts of MTIT and DICT in providing them with strategies and tips that they can immediately apply in their respective social marketing, the Bangsamoro Information Office said in a news dispatch last week.
“The knowledge, learnings, ideas and fresh perspective I gained were very informative and helpful. I can say that the training is a game changer because as an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for ways to improve my business,” he said.
“I highly recommend this training program to anyone who wants to learn about digital marketing, particularly to entrepreneurs who want to take their business to the next level,” he added.
Regional government support
THE Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the region’s lawmaking body, recently received a bill from its members to ensure that “registration, regulation and development of the cooperatives in BARMM would be implemented.”
BTA Bill No. 210, or An Act Providing for the Bangsamoro Cooperative and Social Enterprise Code, seeks to establish a clear legal framework “that encourages the creation and expansion of cooperatives as vital tools to foster economic development and social equity within the BARMM region,” the information office said.
The proposed code will provide explicit guidelines for the establishment, operation and management of cooperatives.
The comprehensive code consists of 70 pages in four books, each addressing essential aspects of the cooperative and social enterprise sectors. These include general provisions, cooperative development, social enterprise development, and miscellaneous and final provisions.
Under the proposed code, a cooperative is defined as an autonomous and duly registered association of individuals with a shared interest who voluntarily come together to meet their social, economic and cultural needs.
Such cooperatives would contribute equitably to the capital required, support their products and services, and share the risks and benefits of their endeavors in accordance with universally accepted cooperative principles and moral governance.
Under this code are covered the social enterprises, characterized “as business organizations primarily dedicated to addressing social, cultural, or environmental challenges, with profit generation for owners and stakeholders being a secondary concern.”
Social enterprises are required to adhere to principles such as fulfilling Shari’ah objectives, promoting halal transactions, generating legitimate wealth from business and asset-based transactions, avoiding haram (forbidden) practices, and sharing risks in business and financial transactions. The code strictly prohibits usury, gambling, speculative transactions, and haram products and services within cooperatives and social enterprises.
To streamline and oversee the viability and growth of Bangsamoro cooperatives and social enterprises, the code proposes the establishment of a dedicated governing body, the Cooperatives and Social Enterprise Authority (CSEA). The agency will be the sole entity responsible for registering cooperatives and social enterprises in the Bangsamoro government.
Cooperatives may be classified into different types: credit, consumer, producer, marketing, workers, and other categories determined by the CSEA.
The CSEA is also mandated to also organize the Bangsamoro Social Enterprise Council (BSEC), an alliance of social enterprise leaders leveraging their networks, knowledge and experience.
BTA Bill No. 210 was filed by Members of the Parliament Diamila Disimban-Ramos, Ishak Mastura, Lanang Ali Jr., Rasol Mitmug Jr., Amilbahar Mawallil, Baintan Ampatuan, Eddie Alih, Michael Midtimbang, Ali Sangki and Suharto Ambolodto.
MPs Dan Asnawie, Ali Solaiman, Froilyn Mendoza, Khalid Hadji Abdullah, Tarhata Maglangit, Dr. Kadil Sinolinding Jr., Atty. Randolph Parcasio, Takawakal Midtimbang, Jaafar Apollo Mikhail Matalam, Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, MP Akmad Abas, Mohammad Kelie Antao and Basit Abas were also coauthors of BTA Bill No. 210.
Image credits: Michael Camsa/Bangsamoro information Office