THE Philippines, in collaboration with Chinese Taipei, urged micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to invest in innovation to be able to take advantage of the online-to-offline (O2O) business opportunity in the digital economy.
“We must provide solutions not only to address current challenges we’re faced with, but also to solve problems we didn’t even know we had. And in order to do that we must do one thing—we must innovate,” said Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Regional Operations Group during the “APEC Policy Dialogue on MSME Marketplace & O2O Forum” held November 28 to 29 in Boracay, Aklan.
The forum was aimed at promoting the application of O2O business models and encouraging MSMEs to invest in innovation.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, electronic commerce helps local businesses access global value chains, and enables them to have a presence in foreign markets through exports and imports. This process leads to higher productivity because of more efficient use of technology, heightened competition, and greater consumer choice; and creates jobs as firms start to expand.
The Asia-Pacific region has the largest market share in the digital economy, accounting for 33 percent of total market scale, but only a few SMEs in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are currently taking full advantage of new digital opportunities.
The role of government in supporting more SMEs to turn these opportunities into business will be a key driving force for economic growth.
“It’s becoming increasingly important for government and the private sector to work together in making a business landscape where MSMEs can freely trade across borders simply with one’s gadgets connected to the world,” Maglaya said.
The APEC Policy Dialogue is focused not only on developing O2O startups but also in aligning this effort to the Iloilo Initiative to establish an APEC MSME Marketplace, which is aimed at improving cross-border trade in the region.
Over 70 stakeholders including Google, Global Innovation Forum and other participants from APEC economies attended the forum and participated in the discussion focusing on the current digital opportunities and challenges of MSMEs in the globalization.
Five out of seven local startups who participated in the event came from QBO Innovation Hub, a new innovation hub for startups under the DTI Negosyo Center Plus model operating at the Export Marketing Bureau in Makati City.
In 2017, the Philippines will cooperate with Chinese Taipei and Malaysia to continue the second phase of APEC O2O Initiative to jointly enhance MSMEs’ digital competitiveness and resilience toward quality growth, the DTI said.