Aquino: MSMEs 'very close' to my mother's heart

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday, November 17, that his late mother's pursuit of people empowerment through micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), planted the seed of his own advocacy for inclusive growth.

Addressing some 500 delegates at the APEC SME Summit in Makati City, Aquino noted how the late President Corazon Aquino was able to “empower” Filipinos herself through microfinance.

“This was a belief – an advocacy – very close to the heart of my mother, former President Cory Aquino. My mother became president after witnessing how an empowered Filipino people reclaimed democracy for our country," Aquino said.

"After her presidency, she would pursue the empowerment of our countrymen through a different means: working in microfinance to enable poor Filipino entrepreneurs to take hold of their own destinies, which has contributed to reducing poverty levels," he added.

It is this belief, Aquino said, that made him pursue inclusive growth in his administration. After all, Aquino said there can be no significant change in the country without the help of small industries.

"From the beginning, we have never been content to simply grow the economy and wait for the benefits to trickle down to our people. On the contrary: we believe that the Filipino people are our strongest competitive advantage and our most important resource,” he said.

‘Beyond numbers’

Aquino said his government’s support for MSMEs is not solely based on government data. In 2013, he said, MSMEs comprised over 99% of all business enterprises in the Philippines and accounted for 63.7% of total employment.

“These statistics alone would be reason enough for government to support the sector, but we see far beyond the numbers. Imagine the growth of these small businesses once wider markets are available to them, and once they become more efficient at running their businesses. Imagine further how many millions more Filipinos would receive gainful employment,” he said.

Aquino also flaunted his administration's accomplishments in promoting MSMEs.

He cited the Access of Small Enterprises to Sound Lending Opportunities or ASENSO, the local term for progress; the Magna Carta for MSMEs, Shared Service Facilities, and the participation of the private sector.

Half of Asia Pacific's GDP

With the APEC 2015 theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” Aquino said the Philippines is determined to lead efforts to spur the growth of the MSMEs in the Asia-Pacific region.

To further prove his point, Aquino recounted the Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs, which would focus on priority actions in trade finance, e-commerce, and institutional support to help MSMEs go global; and the Iloilo Initiative, which aims to promote MSMEs’ participation in international trade.

“If MSMEs can be strong drivers of inclusive growth in the Philippines, we believe that the same is true for all of APEC. That is why the Philippines has chosen to make fostering SMEs’ participation in regional and global markets a priority of APEC 2015,” he said, adding MSMEs account for half of the Gross Domestic Product in the Asia-Pacific. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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