By ATTY. NELLY FAVIS VILLAFUERTE
December 18, 2010, 1:09am
MANILA, Philippines – Economic growth through MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) is the battlecry of many nations not only those located in the Asia but in other places like in Europe as well. No wonder many countries are fast-tracking rural industrialization through the development and promotion of MSMEs. This is one tested strategy to achieve economic growth. Our country is moving in this direction too. Many of us will be surprised to know that we have unique products that are being developed and marketed by our brothers and sisters in the rural areas.
Not many of us know that the government has an on-going program to help poor entrepreneurs and rural families in the country by providing technical and financial support for micro enterprises (MEs), which can in turn, benefit other poor families through job opportunities.
This is more popularly known as the RuMEPP program. The lead government agency of this project is the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The RuMEPP program focuses on the 19 poorest provinces in the country (Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, Biliran, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, South Cotabato and Sarangani) and aims to benefit directly some 50,000 Micro Enterprises and 200,000 poor households.
RuMEPP has been very active this year in going to our remote rural areas. For example, DTI has been encouraging 100 families in Langiden (a remote rural area in Abra) to go into corn-based ventures. Today, the involved families in Langiden, Abra are very serious to pursue the chichacorn business. DTI has also succeeded to motivate the mountain Manobo tribe in remote Bayugan, Agusan del Sur to venture in the cut flower growing.
I have been connected with the DTI family as Undersecretary for the International Sector and Undersecretary of the Regional Operations Group (ROG) now renamed the Regional Operations and Development Group (RODG) for seven years (1998-2005) – until I was transferred to the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
It is heartening to note that the intense passion of the DTI family to develop, nurture, and train micro rural entrepreneurs is matched by their sincere commitment to public service. I should know. I have been a witness to the day-to-day activities of the directors and all their personnel in the regional and provincial operations of the DTI.
The DTI Program Manager of RuMEPP is a 52-year-old God-fearing Christian who has been with DTI for the past 30 years. He is Jerry T. Clavesillas, an Assistant Director of the Bureau of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BMSMED). The Director of BMSMED is Ms. Rhodora “Dodit” Leaño. BMSMED is one of the bureaus of DTI involved in the RuMEPP program. The other bureaus involved are the Bureau of Domestic Trade (BDT) under Director Meynard Orbeta and the Cottage Industry and Technology Center (CITC) under Executive Director Frank Bunoan - and of course all the regional and provincial directors and personnel of the Regional Operations and Development Group headed by Undersecretary Merly Cruz are also actively involved in the RuMEPP program.
One may ask: Where does the RuMEPP program get its funding? For the past 7 years (2007-2013), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been giving loans and grants for the RuMEPP program. The national government provides 10 percent counterpart funding.
Let me list the wide range of services offered by DTI to micro enterprises:
1. Enterprise Management Training (e.g. basic bookkeeping, pricing and costing); 2. Facilitating Micro Enterprises Business Compliance (e.g. business name registration, licensing/certification); 3. Skills Training/Technology Transfer (e.g. introduction of new inputs, equipment or production processes which can increase the efficiency, scale and returns of Micro Enterprises); 4. Product Development (e.g. shelf-life/product-life enhancement, packaging and labeling); 5. Market Linkage (e.g. trade fair participation, development of marketing collaterals); 6. Organizational Strengthening of Micro Enterprises Associations/Clusters (e.g. strategic planning exercises); 7. MSME Center Strengthening/Outreach (e.g. conduct of entrepreneurial advocacy particularly in far-flung areas).
Finally, let me also tell you that RuMEPP facilitated the release of Php 512 million worth of microfinancing through 34 microfinance institutions (MFI) to about 50,000 Micro Enterprises as of September 30, 2010.
Today, people from all sectors of society all around the world are launching all kinds of entrepreneurial ventures. Thousands of these aspiring entrepreneurs referred to as entrepreneur wannabes who have been challenged and motivated to pursue entrepreneurship ventures are based in remote rural areas. As in other places, our rural entrepreneurs are heroes during the best of times… during the worst of times. For creating more jobs and more revenues in the remote rural areas. Kudos to the DTI group too for its persistence and aggressiveness in its mission to encourage, motivate, and train more rural entrepreneurs.
Have a joyful day!