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How support programs unlock opportunities for MSMEs to thrive

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play an essential role in developing the Philippine economy. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit however, the resulting downfall in the economy impacted these small businesses.

While businesses of various sizes were affected by the global health crisis, it was MSMEs that were more challenged to stay afloat. In response, many programs were established to help them recover and prosper in the following years, as global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company observed.

In an article published on its website, McKinsey shared that MSMEs face many challenges, including keeping up with digital transformation, the struggle to expand their business internationally, delivering on decarbonization commitments, and acquiring the right digital skills and talents because of a lack of financial resources and fewer network resources.

Since MSMEs make up a big percentage of the Philippine economy, helping MSMEs bounce back is critical for economic recovery. That’s why it is greatly valuable to uncover new opportunities for these businesses to recuperate.

Some of these opportunities were learned from National Champion Programs that governments around the world implemented, as McKinsey shared.

“National Champion Programmes around the world reveal a handful of lessons about unlocking growth and innovation that could help these companies not only weather the current crisis but also overcome the compounding challenges they face,” McKinsey wrote on its website.

In the Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched government programs, including Small and Medium Enterprise Roving Academy (SMERA) and Kapatid Mentor For Me, which provides learning and training programs for the development of MSMEs; Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-Asenso (P3), focusing on helping MSMEs in the loan process; Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE) giving incentives on the business, and Go Lokal!, which serves as a marketing access platform among MSMEs.

One of these opportunities McKinsey spotted is focusing on midsize companies’ growth, in which the said programs are said to achieve the most impact.

“These companies have a disproportionate impact on economic outcomes. They also tend to have a demonstrated track record of success, including an ability and willingness to grow and a strong financial history, making them more likely to be able to implement advisory support,” McKinsey said.

Also, establishing personalized outreach programs is significant to build relationships with and support MSMEs.

“To attract these high-potential companies, existing programs have found that they need to be able to understand each SME’s unique needs and address them on a case-by-case basis. Rather than taking an automated or mass-outreach approach, program representatives reach out personally to companies, building relationships with them to ensure the program is a good fit, to understand their starting point, and to explain how the program will benefit them,” McKinsey explained.

McKinsey also notes tailoring programs that accommodate the needs of specific groups of companies. Since there are different types of MSMEs, they also need different types of support to achieve growth and development. Thus, programs can target specific groups of MSMEs sharing the same objectives, as well as give MSMEs a range of interventions they can choose from.

While the government has taken measures to support MSMEs, it also takes courage and commitment from MSMEs in order for them to truly benefit from such support and so thrive, by completing MSME-development programs and applying the acquired skills and knowledge to help their business expand and grow.

“Programs can use a number of tactics to encourage companies to commit not just to completing the program but to implementing what they learn and making new strategic moves,” McKinsey noted.

Lastly, McKinsey highlighted the importance of MSME’s partnership with private sector companies, who can serve as their acting advisers, providing their expertise and access to clients and investors.

Stepping into the post-COVID era, support programs are helping MSMEs unlock opportunities for them to fully recover and further grow. — A. K. S. Brillantes

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