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Launch of a 5-year program to help SMEs become more digital

The Philippine government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) started a five-year program on Wednesday to help Filipino small and medium-sized businesses become more digital (SMEs).

Strengthening Private Enterprise for the Digital Economy (SPEED), which is funded by USAID, aims to get more SMEs involved in the digital economy by helping them come up with and use safe, reliable, and cheap digital technology solutions.

SPEED also asks the private sector, especially companies that work in financial technology, to use e-payment systems more.

It also wants to make e-commerce platforms fit better into the logistics supply chain.

During the SPEED launch in Makati City, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual said that the USAID program will help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) overcome barriers to accessing technology. This will help the agency reach its goal of growing MSMEs.

“When MSMEs go digital, they can work better, save money, reach bigger markets, and make more money,” Pascual said.

He also said that DTI has been putting out programs to help MSMEs become more digital, such as launching the e-commerce roadmap and building a free e-commerce platform with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, among other things.

DTI is also running the Big Brother-Small Brother Digitalization Project, which digitalizes supply chains, including those of SMEs. Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Terminal Inc. (NVAT) is serving as a pilot site to roll out the end-to-end e-commerce platform.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla said at the same event that the SPEED program will help the central bank’s efforts to help MSMEs use digital payments and financial services.

“If SPEED is successful, it could lead to a more inclusive digital economy and, as we learn from the pandemic, a more resilient Philippine economy that helps many, if not most, Filipinos live better lives,” said Medalla.

MaryKay Carlson, the US ambassador to the Philippines, said that the program run by USAID will help the country build a strong digital economy.

Carlson said, “Today, I’m asking everyone to help us realize this vision of digital technology that increases productivity, encourages innovation, promotes inclusive growth, jumpstarts economic development, creates jobs, and gives power to all, especially the most vulnerable.”

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