Mastercard, fintechs tapped by DTI to support digitalization of MSMEs

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has partnered with the private sector to further boost growth opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by expanding their knowledge and upscaling their digital capabilities to improve their business operations.

In a statement last Tuesday, the DTI said it entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mastercard to spearhead initiatives that will enable MSMEs to embark on a digital transformation of their business.

This includes providing MSMEs with access to technology solutions to digitize their operations and enable digital commerce—both accepting and making payments.

Beyond enabling MSMEs to future-proof their business, the trade department said these initiatives also complement the government’s objective of building a “cash-lite society.”

This partnership stemmed from recognizing the need for a heightened focus on financial literacy and digital transformation of MSMEs, which was prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Mastercard is committed to building an inclusive digital economy in the Philippines where all stakeholders can realize their ambitions. Through the partnership with DTI, Mastercard is helping small businesses open their digital doors with access to resources and technology solutions,” Mastercard Country Manager for the Philippines Simon Calasanz was quoted in the statement as saying.

Fintechs tapped

ASIDE from Mastercard, the Trade department has also partnered with financial technology (Fintech) companies to promote alternative options for financing MSMEs such as Investree Philippines Inc., the crowdfunding business of the Gotianuns, and First Circle Inc.

DTI said Investree is the country’s first recipient of a permanent crowdfunding license from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offering supply chain financing solutions to growing SMEs since 2020. To date, Investree has supported more than a hundred SMEs, according to the DTI’s statement. Its significant existence in the nation’s economic recovery will be further heightened with its expansion nationwide, it added.

“Investree Philippines is focused on building the future, a future where financial tools are more available to SMEs in order to sustain and expand their businesses,” Investree Philippines Country Manager Alexander Capulong was quoted in the statement as saying. “Through our partnership with DTI, we seek to keep pursuing this vision of the future. We are even more excited since this collaboration will enable more new opportunities and milestones for Filipino SMEs, which ultimately helps boost the country’s economy in the long run.”

First Circle will also provide MSMEs access to financial services as well as offer financial literacy. The fintech firm has also agreed to supply the DTI’s “Negosyo Centers” with financial-related information and materials, create financial-related digital content that the government agency can use and share their expertise in DTI-initiated events and activities.

Financing needs

THE DTI noted that across all industries, majority of MSMEs require financing assistance the most.

“Other assistance needed include marketing assistance, complying with government regulations and enabling policies on regulations providing improvements on administration and provision of taxes, discounts and incentives as well as assistance on rentals and utilities, among others,” the DTI statement read.

DTI-Regional Operations Group Undersecretary Blesila A. Lantayona said that once equipped with necessary assistance, MSMEs will be able to recover.

“We are confident that by giving MSMEs the needed entrepreneurial and financial skills to operate their own businesses, they will contribute to economic activities that are crucial to revive our economy from the negative effects of Covid-19 pandemic,” Lantayona was quoted in the statement as saying.

“And as our MSMEs grow and flourish, they will create more jobs and employment that will benefit our people and boost our country’s economic growth in the post-pandemic future,” she added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), MSMEs account for 99 percent of business establishments and employ 60 percent of the country’s workforce.