AT least 3,000 small businesses all over the country are being benefitted annually under a program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that aims to empower the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
This is through the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), an enterprise development and technology transfer initiative of DOST that aims to increase business productivity and job creation.
For the first half of the year alone, a total of 1,236 firms have been given assistance, DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo said.
“SETUP, a development program to empower the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs, creates a conducive business environment for MSMEs to improve their productivity and increase efficiency through the infusion of appropriate technologies,” said Montejo.
The DOST-SETUP program has already created 20,985 new jobs just for the period January to June 2015.
From 2010, when the Aquino administration began, up to end of the second quarter of this year, a total of 115,445 new jobs were already created, the DOST said.
According to the DOST, the program covers all aspects of operating and managing a business in order to improve their products, services and/or operations.
SETUP provides human resource training; technical assistance and consultancy services; design of functional packages and labels; and assistance in the establishment of product standards, including testing, database management system and technology acquisition.
“Firms assisted with technologies are capacitated and become more productive, competitive (locally and globally) and bankable, thus, empowering more our MSMEs as they participate into the mainstream of business activity,” said Montejo.
Montejo said SETUP is the only government program assisting MSMEs that gives back refunds to the Bureau of Treasury (BoT).
To ensure a high rate of refund by beneficiaries and to uphold transparency and professionalism, SETUP proposals are strictly evaluated by the Regional Technical Evaluation Committee (RTEC).
The committee is composed of a battery of experts/practitioners from industry, universities and professional organizations.
They assess the managerial, technical and financial capability and viability of the beneficiaries and proponents to take on S&T interventions for sustainability.
Carol Yorobe, DOST undersecretary for regional operations, assured that funds released to proponents are used for the purpose for which the project was approved and that they conduct regular due diligence to secure the viability of the project.
DOST Regional Offices release the funds directly to the supplier when equipment have been procured.
In other instances, the release of funds is done through a bank which, in turn, releases it to the proponent only when the required equipment to be procured is already available for delivery.
There are also measures in place to address the risks in such a transaction.
“The program’s monitoring system follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance by proponents and allow the enforcement of the provisions stated in the memorandum of agreement (MOA) they sign before assistance is given,” Yorobe said.
DOST’s regional and/or provincial officers and staff regularly visit the projects and monitor their progress as to the proper utilization of S&T interventions, and correspondingly make the necessary improvements, when needed, in systems or in the use of the equipment or the technology to obtain the desired productivity.
Just like other banking and development assistance institutions in the country, the DOST said SETUP has its share of delinquent accounts, noting that there is no perfect system that could guarantee 100 percent refund rate from its borrowers.
From 2010 to June 2015, DOST-SETUP has already recorded a total funding assistance of P2.2 billion with 29,401 technology interventions provided to MSMEs mostly in the regions. These interventions include consultancy services, human resource training, packaging assistance, design and labeling, among others.