Small firms in Asean told to retool, innovate for global competitiveness

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Micro and small entrepreneurs in the Asean region should retool, innovate, and go digital to become globally competitive, Department of Trade and Industry secretary Ramon Lopez said during a development summit in Pasay City.

DTI secretary Ramon Lopez: Small businesses should develop value-added products
DTI secretary Ramon Lopez: Small businesses should develop value-added products

“Through innovation and digitization, we are confident that [micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises] can leapfrog their status as globally-competitive enterprises, thus, benefiting everyone in Asean,” Lopez said during the one-day Asean 2017 MSME Development Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Lopez also acknowledged governments’ role in providing an “enabling mechanism to empower those in the bottom,” referring to the MSMEs.

During his speech at the July 14 event, the trade chief also underscored the importance for MSMEs to develop value added products, describing them as “key to success for micro SMEs”.

Hosted by the Philippines through DTI, the summit revolved around the theme called “The 7Ms Towards Shared Prosperity in Asean” and placed MSMEs’ interests at the center of the Asean Economic Community agenda as it gathered advocates, mentors, enablers, and business experts from the region.

Lopez said the 7Ms are Mindset, Mastery, Mentoring, Market, Money, Machines, and Models of Business which MSMEs should pursue “to become smarter entrepreneurs” and become more productive and profitable.

Datuk Dr. Hafsah Hashim, CEO of SME Corporation Malaysia, expressed the same sentiments during an interview with Newsbytes.PH.

“You can say that the name of the game in this entire journey is how do we integrate our MSMEs into using the digital economy and making sure that their businesses, processes are using ICT and also the fact that access to market is through e-commerce,” she said during her speech in the summit’s keynote forum.

MSMEs, she added, must embrace technological disruption.

“Disruption is very important as we move into the future, as we talk about these mega-trends and how the digital economy is going to shape a totally different landscape. So, our MSMEs must change, must align themselves to the mega-trends,? Hashim said.

She was referring to the six mega-trends identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF) such as?people and the Internet; computing, communications and storage everywhere; Internet of Things (IoT); artificial intelligence and big data; sharing economy and distributed trust; and digitization of matter.

“The agility of the MSMEs’ business and dynamism will remain in the ecosystem because the indigenous growth of any economy in the world rests on the MSMEs,” she said.

Datuk Dr. Hafsah Hashim (center), CEO of SME Corporation Malaysia, and her colleagues at the Asean 2017 MSME Development Summit
Datuk Dr. Hafsah Hashim (center), CEO of SME Corporation Malaysia, and her colleagues at the Asean 2017 MSME Development Summit

Asean is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam. The 10 members, with a combined population of over 630 million, have also formed themselves into the Asean Economic Community (AEC) for a “closer regional economic integration.” As a group, its combined population makes it the world’s third largest market.

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