Only 1 percent of small to medium enterprises that make up the bulk of Philippine companies are online and PLDT SME Nation wants to change this through its Big Talks conference series.

“The goal is to get as many enterprises online as possible. We have a lot of catching up to do. More than acquiring customers, the target I set for myself is to help as many MSMEs adopt digital solutions and take their businesses to the next level,” said PLDT Smart SME Nation head Mitch Locsin.

He said he would like to increase the number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with an online presence to at least 5 percent.

According to Locsin, part of the discussions during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference in the Philippines in 2015 was the potential of MSMEs to become the next growth wave of the region but the country’s small to medium enterprises face several challenges.

PLDT SME Mitch Locsin

CHALLENGES. PLDT Smart SME Nation head Mitch Locsin says many MSMEs still lack knowledge on possible new markets, don’t see the need to have an online presence, and continue believe that a Facebook or Instagram post already constitutes digital solution.

MSME challenges

He said many MSMEs still lack knowledge on possible new markets, don’t see the need to have an online presence, and continue believe that a Facebook or Instagram post already constitutes digital solution.

“An online presence adds legitimacy to the business and is where the journey to e-commerce begins. Eventually, everything can be bought online. Did you know that entrepreneurs can have their companies listed in Google for free?” he added during a press conference held shortly before the second leg of PLDT SME Nation’s Big Talks conference last July 28 in Cebu. The event is part of the giant telco’s “Make it Big” campaign aimed at encouraging MSMEs in the Philippines to bring their businesses to the next level through technology.

MSMEs make up 99.6 percent of the Philippine enterprise population and contribute 32 percent to the country’s economy.

“Connectivity has become a norm. The next big thing is digital solutions. The market has changed overnight and companies get better access to it through technology,” Locsin said.

PLDT solutions

One of the technology solutions that PLDT SME Nation offer to enterprises is the market builder, a subscription-based service that allows businesses to reach customers through geofencing. The service comes with a tablet where MSMEs can input promotion details and send as a message blast to potential customers within a specific area.

Locsin said they are testing the service out to selected clients but will make it fully available by September 1.

He added they can develop and manage websites for enterprises, already with a domain name and email system, just for P8,000 a year. Another solution they offer companies is wireless tracking, which involves GPS trackers and allows real time monitoring of trucks, buses and taxes.

With its Big Talks series, PLDT SME Nation aims to empower budding entrepreneurs through a forum that highlights the biggest success stories in Philippine business.

PLDT SME Nation

SOLUTIONS. PLDT officials lead by PLDT Smart SME Nation head Mitch Locsin (center) and PLDT head of operations for Cebu, Bohol, Samar, and Leyte Elmer Lintag (left) hold a press conference on the holding of its Big Talks conference series in Cebu.

Big Talks conference

The Big Talks conference in Cebu included a stellar lineup of business ambassadors, including Penshoppe‘s Bernie Liu who shared how they were able to grow the business from a single store in 1986 to 700 outlets in 12 countries today.

Locsin said the Big Talks is like the popular TED Talks, but for small to micro enterprises.

Other resource speakers included Justin Uy of Profood International Corp. and Joseph Calata of Calata Corp. During the conference, successful entrepreneurs Liu, Uy, and Calata shared the importance of perseverance, hard work, and new learning to make it big in the world of business.

The first leg of the Big Talks series happened in Manila last month. A third one is planned for Davao City. “We look forward to bringing the Big Talks series to key cities in the Philippines to continuously fuel the Filipino entrepreneur through cutting edge solutions that solve real-life problems and business needs,” Locsin said.

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