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Ever since President Duterte took his office in 2016, he has been actively promoting inclusive growth, the kind of development which should, and must be felt by all Filipinos from all sectors. As we all know, 99.6 percent of the business sector is composed of micro, small, and medium enterprise and our goal, together with our government and private sector partners, is to improve their lives through entrepreneurship. The goal is to make them sustainable entrepreneurs instead of being survival entrepreneurs.
Last Tuesday, April 2, I was invited to speak before the newly inducted set of officers and board of trustees of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), led by its new president Nonoy Espeleta, during their turnover program. Nonoy has been with the Go Negosyo advocacy as one of our mentors since our beginning. CCCI, a branch of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, boosts the engine of Cebu’s business growth towards a more globally competitive business community with more than 800 member companies and 30 sectoral affiliates. They have been a partner of promoting entrepreneurship in Cebu province for many years.
During my speech, I focused on three key areas which we call as pillars for inclusive growth. These three areas include tourism, agri-business, and digitalization.
Infrastructure projects through the administration’s Build Build Build program has created and restructured the needed airports, ports, roads, and bridges which opened up our provinces. This created greater access for markets that would support the growth of our micro and small entrepreneurs so that they can easily transport their products and services to other areas. This initiative also affects the growth of the tourism sector given that more and more islands and tourists spots can be visited and explored by local and foreign tourists. It will boost the local economy given the increasing number of foot traffic in an area. More locals will open up businesses such as restaurants, souvenir shops, and hotels and resorts to cater to the growing demand. That is why we believe that through a more sustainable tourism industry, we can welcome more than 7.1 million tourists as reported in 2018. Given that the country is blessed with beautiful natural resources, we can compete with Thailand which welcomes 38 million tourists every year.
On agri-business, I shared the different programs of Go Negosyo. Recently, through the help of our partners, we launched more farm models in Mindanao, equipping farmers with the proper techniques and introducing them to different technologies to produce a greater harvest. Additionally, big brother companies are helping farmers through their inclusive business models. We are also actively providing mentorship, through the help of the Department of Agriculture.
Recently, the rice tariffication law was signed which opened up the market for imported rice. While it will open competition in the rice industry, the law provides safety nets for local farmers. Tariff which will be collected shall be used to support the farmers and equip them to be more competitive through farming tools, seeds, and other technologies.
Lastly, I see digitalization as one of the strongest drivers of economic growth. Now that we are currently experiencing the 4th Industrial Revolution, entrepreneurs must now shift to the digital world. Various digital platforms have been launched which democratize access to mentorship, money, and market. In our recent summit, digital platforms presented how they have all empowered more Filipinos to become self-earning entrepreneurs. Platforms such Grab, Angkas, Lazada, and Shopee, among others, have created a new market for entrepreneurs. We should all be open to the possibilities and opportunities that digitalization will bring.
We can achieve prosperity in these three areas if we focus on connectivity. Infrastructure projects will open the provinces, the improvement of PLDT and Globe and the entry of the third telecommunications company can aide in greater online connectivity which will help more Filipinos to be online all the time.
We believe that these three areas will greatly contribute to the goal of inclusive growth and development in the country.