October 22, 2021

NegOcc entrepreneurs participate in a 6-month DTI trade exhibition

Negros Occidental One-Town, One-Product (OTOP) manufacturers are exhibiting their products at a six-month trade exhibition hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in an effort to recover from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The event dubbed the “OTOP Provincial Trade Fair,” kicked off on Thursday at the ground floor of Ayala Malls Capitol Central with an initial 31 “otopreneurs” from various cities and municipalities in the province who have been assisted by the DTI and have also registered under the OTOP NextGen program.

Rachel Nufable, officer-in-charge of DTI-Negros Occidentales, stated during the opening that as the economy begins to recover, the unique trade fair is a good chance for these manufacturers to reach out to additional customers.

“We want to assist local micro, small, and medium businesses (MSMEs) in recovering from the impacts of the current Covid-19 epidemic,” she said.

So far, this is the longest trade show in Negros Occidentales and the first to focus only on OTOP manufacturers.

“This is a trial run for the creation of a permanent home for Negrense MSME goods in addition to the Association of Negros Producers Hub,” Nufable said.

The unique trade exhibition, which will be held until April 2022, will include a broad range of goods from sectors such as cuisine, homestyle, wearables, and furnishings.

“These are goods that have the ability to elevate their markets, from the barrio to metropolitan areas, and can be marketed at the regional and national levels.” There are new MSMEs participating in the trade show who have been helped by the agency’s different pieces of training. “It’s a kind of market test for them,” a DTI official said.

Nufable said that since the majority of MSMEs have ceased operations as a result of the pandemic, there is a need to educate them to be resilient by surviving any crisis that may occur.

“They must recuperate and then rebuild their businesses by creating new product lines depending on their existing resources, personnel, and market,” she adds.

According to Gerin Vergara, senior trade and industry development expert of DTI-Negros Occidentales, the OTOP Provincial Trade Fair also focuses on improving manufacturers’ market access.

“It is positioned to assist both ‘otopreneurs’ who have been enrolled in the OTOP NextGen for nearly four years, as well as ‘big brothers’ and ‘bagong sibol’ or those who have just joined in the program,” she said.

Precy Perez, the proprietor of Yssa’s Handicrafts in this city’s Barangay Tangub, is one of the participating “otopreneurs.”

Perez, who makes home décor out of repurposed wine and medication bottles, said in an interview on Friday that the epidemic had a significant impact on their company.

Travel restrictions caused a downturn in the tourist sector, which stopped the export of their goods.

“Because I didn’t have enough money to pay our employees, they stopped working as well.” We are slowly recovering now, and the good news is that with this trade exhibition, we will be able to reintroduce our goods to the market,” Perez said.

The event, titled “Resiliency. Recovery. Rebuilding,” is being hosted by the DTI in collaboration with the provincial government of Negros Occidental and Ayala Malls Capitol Central.

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