Group readies SMEs for integration

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Cebu are embarking on various initiatives to help them during the Asean economic integration.

Filipino Cebuano Business Club Inc. (FCBI) president Rey Calooy said they conduct regular mentorship on business enhancement with FCBI members and local chapters in Bohol and Leyte.

“We do a lot of sharing about good business practices. We strive to learn from each other’s failures and successes. New business players can learn a lot from successful companies,” said Calooy.


He said the preparation for the Asean economic integration does not solely rest with the government; entrepreneurs also need to pitch in.

The Asean Economic Community (AEC), which is scheduled to be in place in December next year, seeks to establish a region with a free flow of goods, services, investments, skilled labor as well as capital.

According to Calooy the sector is prepared and optimistic.

“Not all entrepreneurs from our Asean neighbors know well the terrain and culture of Filipino consumers. We believe our consumers would still continue to patronize locally-made products, particularly food. We are hopeful we will survive in the integration,” he said.

What worries the sector, however, is technology. Calooy said that to remain globally-competitive, the sector should embrace the latest use of technology to meet the requirements of the business. He said this is one area where the government should start reinvesting.

As for financial support, Calooy said financial institutions, particularly commercial banks, are now catering to the requirements of the sector. He said banks now recognize SMEs as playing a crucial role in being the economic backbone of the country.


“We see improvements. Banks are becoming more considerate. Some big banks have also created a department that focuses on SME financial requirement,” said Calooy.

FCBI also started reaching out to foreign investors for possible business networking and partnership.

This Saturday, the group is scheduled to meet European businessmen to explore opportunities.

Calooy said he wanted to encourage FCBI members to consider expanding their business not only in the Philippines but abroad and link with potential investors who will help realize their plans.

Expanding abroad

“SME culture in the Philippines is parochial. They don’t entertain the idea of going out and building businesses abroad. We are hoping this business meeting with foreign investors would somehow open-up the sector to more opportunities in the global market,” he said.

Reports said European businessmen are supporting the government’s plan to conclude the scoping for the free trade agreement (FTA) between the European Union and the Philippines by the end of the year. It said the FTA would pave the way for more opportunities for both European and Philippines firms, specifically the SMEs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 24, 2014.


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