The month of January 1986 seemed optimistic at first. In two months, I was due to give birth to my first bundle of joy. Alas, I got “fired”. With a heavy heart, I slowly packed up the folders from my desk into the cartons. Melito Salazar Jr. (otherwise known as Bimbo and now writes for Bulletin Today), the new director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Small Scale Industries (UPISSI) decided not to renew my contract. I didn’t believe there was shortage of funds because I was hired through the foundation (Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation or SERDEF) of the institute. It wasn’t even the financial aspect that made me feel bad. The research and consultancy work served as part of my identity, a place to use my skills and talents and watch them build over time as I believed I became more competent at them. I worked there for 5 years.
No computers back then. Pencil and yellow pad is what I used.
Most of all, I believed a vibrant small and medium enterprise (SME) sector can bring great benefits to a developing country like the Philippines so how could I help now?
I guess there was a silver lining to all this. UP-ISSI/SERDEF was my last employer. I became a full-time mother devoted to bringing up my children.
Carlo Ople on “Social Networking and Business Development.”
26 years passed by quickly. My children graduated from college and I am now on a semi-empty nest phase. I often wondered…was there a growth of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (mSME’s) the past 26 years? There is no lack of agencies or government programs to assist the mSMEs. Neither is there a lack of awareness.
These mSMEs play a significant role in the country’s development. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, they are the backbone of the Philippine economy comprising about 99.6% of all registered firms in the Philippines and employing 69.9% of the labor force. Most of all, they contribute 32% to the economy. Here is how mSMEs are classified:
Micro – up to 3,000,000
Small – P3,000,001 – 15,000,000
Medium – P15,000,001 – 100,000,000
Large – above P100,000,000
While the SME sector is recognized as the focal point for growth that will ensure that the Philippine economy moves forward despite the threats of an unfavorable global environment, the overall fiscal condition of the country prevents it from being given utmost financial support.
Development programs have been laid out but resources are not readily available because of competing demands for government support.
Perhaps, there are ways to help the micro and small scale enterprises who have limited resources. This is how I thought I could make a comeback of my advocacy using social media. The infographic below is based on a US study but it might as well be the case in the Philippines? The infographic showcases many businesses aren’t properly tapping into the massive opportunities.
Helping the mSMEs use social networking for business growth
Randell Tiongson on the topic “Strengthening Entrepreneurship Advocacy through Social Networking.”
Did I ever imagine myself to be back at UP-ISSI/SERDEF? Never in my wildest dreams. Myrna Co, my editor back then in UPISSI now works in SERDEF as their media manager and recruited me as their digital consultant for a symposium on “Social Networking and Business Development and Advocacy”. The event was held on March 3 and I believe it was a huge success in terms of appreciating social media for business growth. There was an overflow on attendance. Carlo Ople and Randell Tiongson, the savvy speakers kept the audience enthralled with their knowledge, audience rapport and sense of humor.
Carlo Ople introduced the participants on the basic of a good website and free web-based tools to engage with potential customers. On the other hand, Randell Tiongson stressed the importance of personal branding and cites his advocacy on Life and Personal Finance. Feedback from the bloggers present proved to be very positive and in fact motivated them to improve their blogs, and social media engagement with their passion in life.
Here are some do’s and don’ts of social media for business that I also want to share.
I believe there are now plans for a full fledged seminar on social networking and business as the next step to this appreciation program. Seeing the spark from the eyes of some of the participants just made my day. Here I was back in my old office, just wanting to share SERDEF, a resource hub for small businessmen from training and research, advice and information.
Helping out the micro and small scale enterprises is a dream that was never lost.