Conglomerate helping shepherd MSMEs to digital marketplace

PLDT Inc., long known for pushing connectivity, recently embarked on a digital pivot to become a more relevant force in the digital world by introducing various products and services to the public for the digital lifestyle.

On February 12  the information and communications technology behemoth wore the coat of a catalyst by empowering the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Through its digital innovations arm Voyager Innovations (Voyager) and entrepreneurship advocate Go Negosyo, PLDT launched a program designed to encourage the MSMEs embark on a digital road map through an end-to-end capability development program that covers all aspects needed to participate in the digital marketplace.

“We want to be the operating system of the digital microeconomy. PLDT also wants to contribute in democratizing the economy in digitizing the microdigital microeconomy. It is disrupting poverty in the country,” Orlando Vea, president and CEO of Voyager and PayMaya Philippines, said in an interview on the sidelines of the event in Makati City.

Vea said Voyager and PayMaya would play a big role in this undertaking. By introducing and harnessing the power of digital technology, Vea said the program will enable the marginalized sectors to break the vicious cycle of poverty by developing capabilities and be more self sufficient through microentrepreneurship.

“With the digital tools, the microentrepreneurs can help themselves in the mainstream by availing of digital platforms,” Vea pointed.

By registering to any of the apps developed by Voyager, Vea said any microentrepreneur can avail of the various services offered by the PLDT group for free. He said the community can enroll in the program whether it involves lending, savings or investment.

“We’re here to support to the economy with solutions that are curated for the emerging markets,” she said.

The partnership also aims to support the program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to equip more than 100,000 MSMEs with digital solutions by 2020.

To push that agenda, PLDT SME Nation and Go Negosyo will provide the three “M’s”—specialized business training and mentorship, access to wider marketplaces through technology and an online selling platform and, finally, money—access to funding and capital to jump-start their business.

“We are committed to help SMEs thrive and become more globally competitive through digital services and solutions,” said PLDT Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan.

Through more than 750 Negosyo Centers nationwide, local businesses can participate in Go Negosyo’s Mentor Me program which had been expanded to include training in setting up and managing online stores through the TackThis!, the online store builder of Voyager.  The platform also provides small enterprises with the logistics capability to deliver goods to their online buyers.  Once online, MSMEs can reach a wider market nationwide through Takatack (www.takatack.com), Voyager’s virtual marketplace.

Lito Villanueva, head of Lendr, said business owners can gain immediate access of Voyager’s digital lending platform Lendr (www.lendr.com.ph), which helps MSMEs apply for various loan offers from participating banks and lending institutions.

The program will also equip merchants to accept mobile cashless transactions through PayMaya QR (quick response), which provides customers with a seamless payment experience via QR code technology while at the same time eases the burden on cashiers and front-counter agents.

“The enablement program covers much of what business owners need to ready themselves in expanding their operations and putting up a presence in the online market space as we’ve all seen how e-commerce has become the new frontier aiming Filipino consumers,” said Go Negosyo Founder  Jose Concepcion Jr.

“We not only empower business owners by enabling them with latest available technology solutions to quickly establish their global presence online. We also help them optimize their business potential and enhance their market competitiveness through selling and fulfilling transactions using these readily deployable innovative platforms,” PLDT and Smart Chief Revenue Officer and ePLDT President and CEO Eric Alberto said.

DTI Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya said the  DTI will help in the advocacy. “This is a new opportunity for the MSMEs to market their products and services,” she said in an interview.

Maglaya added it is still a challenge to encourage microentrepreneurs to pursue the digital road map because some of the MSMEs are not yet tech savvy.

She said the program is going to complement the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pagasenso (P3) of the government to help in the financing programs of the microentrepreneurs.

“We still have provinces that are not covered by P3. With online lending, you don’t need a physical space to avail of the credit facility. It is a good option for the provinces that don’t have conduits to loans,” she added.

Maglaya said DTI’s Negosyo Centers are open to form partnerships with service providers to help assist MSMEs in their capability development. The partnership also aims to support the program of the DTI to equip more than 100,000 MSMEs with digital solutions by 2020.

In line with this, Voyager launched its “DigiHub” initiative last December under its Voyager DX program which aims to establish a center of excellence facility for digital platforms that entrepreneurs and MSMEs can utilize to help start of grow their businesses.

PLDT and Go Negosyo have been longstanding partners in promoting the development of MSMEs.  Both have collaborated extensively to provide the necessary services, facilities and training to boost economic activity of local communities and the regional hubs.

Turning Points 2018
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