Friday, June 14, 2024

Diversity and inclusivity important for MSMEs, pundits say

Diversity and inclusion are as essential to business success as streamlined operations and a growth mindset. This was the key takeaway from the  first leg of the recently-concluded 2022 Shell LiveWIRE Virtual Homeroom series of talks for entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) owners. 

The first Shell LiveWIRE Virtual Homeroom Session was facilitated by (clockwise, from top left) Guita Gopalan, general manager and chief revenue officer of Vivanti Advantage; Henry Sison, co-founder of Agro-DigitalPH; Serge Bernal, vice president for corporate relations at Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation; and event host RJ Ledesma
(Photo from Pilipinas Shell)

The talks are part of Pilipinas Shell’s LiveWIRE initiative, the company’s flagship start-up accelerator and enterprise development program. Since 2020, LiveWIRE has attracted over 700 young innovators and entrepreneurs from across the country, with dozens of successful firms receiving training, mentorship, and investment assistance.

At the first Homeroom event for this year, which concluded last August 18, eminent industry experts discussed how a workforce with cultural, religious, gender, and socioeconomic disparities can contribute to company success and organizational strength: Guita Gopalan of e-commerce store Vivanti Advantage, and Henry Sison, co-founder of farmer-focused digital business Agro-DigitalPH. Himself a LiveWIRE alumnus, Sison credits his training and experience with the Shell LiveWIRE Acceleration program as a big help to his business success. 

Sison highlighted the need for a growth mindset, to enable businesses to embrace difficulties and find motivation through the achievements of others. “It’s pushing for growth despite success or failure. Achieving growth is a journey and success is just a point in time — always remember to keep on improving,”  he said.

He also noted how Diversity and inclusion (D&I) business practices facilitate company development, particularly “when you solve problems or develop solutions with your clients, allowing you to keep the best interests of all parties when coming up with something new. What’s important is getting that growth mindset, that positiveness, and marrying it with D&I.”

These points were echoed by Gopalan, who said that entrepreneurs should be mindful of all their stakeholders when coming up with business ideas: “Something simpler is better. Simpler for yourself, employees, potential customers, and end-customers. You could also innovate your business model. That’s really where magic happens in the startup space: when companies can be able to innovate on traditional business models.”

Meanwhile, a Lean Startup approach allows new businesses to iteratively test and verify their business models through a cycle of creating, measuring, and learning that is specific to their industry. “If you adopt the Lean Startup mindset and boost that up with the methodologies and tactics, you’ll really pull together the key insights that will help your business grow better whether you are starting out, already established, or part of a company trying something new” Gopalan explained.

The Shell LiveWIRE Virtual Homeroom will continue with two more legs: the August 25 session will explore developing alliances and leveraging them into a platform for expanding one’s digital footprint. Meanwhile, the third segment on September 8 will focus on how building digital footprints can help expand a brand’s reach.

Pilipinas Shell corporate relations vice president Serge Bernal capped the August 18 Homeroom discussion by discussing LiveWIRE’s mission to foster the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs: 

“The Shell LiveWIRE Homeroom Sessions aim to develop the business skills of aspiring business owners, established entrepreneurs, and startup leaders by focusing on solutions that offer innovation and provide job creation,” he said.  

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