As businesses face the important challenge of planning for new ways of working post COVID-19, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through the initiative of its Regional Operations Group (ROG) headed by Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona, prepares MSMEs to thrive in a new reality that includes social distancing and self-isolation.
COVID-19 pandemic has already changed life and commerce. The micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) must learn to embrace the new normal, accept new business concepts and get past the so called old “brick and mortar” mindset in order to survive.
“If there’s anything good about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the realization by many of the benefits of digitization,” said DTI Assistant Regional Director Maria Elena Arbon. “As an advocate for digital transformation, I have experienced the hurdles of convincing our MSMEs and people in general to adopt and adapt digital. Perversely, COVID-19 has effectively forced everyone to accept more digitization into their lives, work and businesses.”
Amidst the crisis, there is one Cebu based company that has successfully translated its business online.
FRL Trading, a start-up company selling agri-based products, diversified to producing washable face masks and running a grocery delivery service online.
Proprietor Felita Lubon said that although her company earns well producing turmeric and ginger tea, she saw the high demand for washable facemasks and decided to look for good needleworkers in the mountain barangays of Cebu.
“I bring the fabric to their homes and collect the finished products from them. These needleworkers are happy that they earn income from their work and are able to support their family despite the lockdown,” Lubon narrated.
Currently, FRL Trading produces 6, 000 to 10,000 facemasks a day for local and international buyers.
In late April, Lubon noticed the huge volume of people who have been forced to stay home and were unable to do groceries as well as drivers who were suddenly rendered jobless.
This crisis gave Lubon the idea of establishing an online grocery delivery service that brings supermarket items to those compelled to stay home and give jobs to drivers who are out of work as well.
Since two weeks ago, Lubon’s grocery delivery service receives an average of 100,000 online orders a day.
DTI-ROG Assistatnt Secretary Asteria Caberte believed that developing this kind of mindset, seeing opportunity in obstacles is part of the trainings, workshops and other interventions that DTI offers to business start-ups.
“DTI also assists MSMEs in product development, design, packaging, standards compliance, marketability, production capability, brand development, among others,” she added.
Felita Lubon is a beneficiary of DTI’s One Town, One Product (OTOP) program for entrepreneurs who engage in business within the value chain of OTOP products (raw material suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, manufacturers).
Lubon is also a graduate of the Kapatid Mentor Micro Entrepreneurs (KMME) program which helps MSMEs scale up their businesses through mentoring on different functional areas of entrepreneurship, produce the right mindset and business know-how.
“In the coming months, DTI may hold most of its trainings via video conferencing to comply with the new normal restrictions,” Arbon stated.
She added that for remote barangays where technology may not be accessible, DTI may hold seminars in gymnasiums, multipurpose buildings but with limited number of participants as to comply with the social distancing protocol.
Meanwhile, Caberte underscored that DTI is open to using other viable means to reach out to MSMEs in the countryside such as radio and comic strips written in the local dialect.
To know more and be part of DTI’s trainings and seminars, DTI encourages small business owners to contact any of the DTI Central Visayas Provincial Offices:
DTI Cebu Provincial Office:
Tel No.: (032) 255-6971
DTI Bohol Provincial Office:
Tel No.: (038) 501 8828
DTI Negros Oriental Provincial Office:
Tel.No. (035) 422 5509
DTI Siquijor Provincial Office :
Tel No.: (035) 480-9065