Empowering Entrepreneurs: The ISSI Journey

pic-symposiumIn line with its 50th founding anniversary, UP ISSI conducted last 24 November 2016 a symposium with the theme “Empowering Entrepreneurs: The ISSI Journey”.

The said symposium showcased the Institute’s 50 years of experience in providing training, consultancy, research and information towards the development and promotion of small enterprises and entrepreneurship in the Philippines.

Dr. Fidel R. Nemenzo, UP ISSI’s officer-in-charge and UP Diliman’s vice-chancellor for research and development, started the symposium by sharing that the Institute was established in the 1960s to address the need to develop small and medium enterprises through training and capacity-building initiatives, consultancy and other technical activities aimed at increasing productivity. Dr. Nemenzo encouraged everyone to help ISSI review and strengthen its programs through their participation during the symposium.

UP Diliman Chancellor Michael L. Tan also graced the event. In his welcome speech, Chancellor Tan noted that the symposium speakers very well represented the pioneers of ISSI, and are among those who are firm advocates of developing industries in the country.

MSME and inclusive growth

For his part, Dr. Cielito F. Habito, professor of economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, columnist at the Philippine Daily Inquirer and former director-general at the National Economic and Development Authority, shared his experiences and perspectives both as an academic and a policy maker on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and inclusive growth. His presentation focused on these five themes:

  1. Inclusive growth and development has been compelling need for us
  2. Agriculture, tourism and manufacturing are the most inclusive sectoral growth
  3. MSMEs must contribute more the overall economy
  4. Traditional barriers to wider MSME growth call for creative new approaches
  5. MSME development must start with young Filipinos

Dr. Habito emphasized that institutional support and coordination is critical in MSME growth.

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‘Entrepreneurship more than just an economic term’

The second speaker, Jaime M. Cortes, posed two challenges to the Institute:

  1. Develop a capability and organize the necessary resources to take advantage of the APEC MSME Marketplace, which will open the door for: joint venture capitalists, outsourcing capabilities, international market, and private-public partnership.
  2. Sustain businesses across generation.

The former chief technical adviser of the International Labour Organization and former UP ISSI staff concluded by noting that “Entrepreneurship is more than just an economic term. It is a way of thinking. It is a way of inspiring creative individuals to pursue opportunities in spite of the risk.”

Meanwhile, Alicia M. Opeña, chief trade and industry development specialist at the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, discussed the role and road ahead for MSMEs in the country through the four outcome areas of the MSME Development Plan: business enabling-environment, access to finance, access to markets, productivity and efficiency.

Lastly, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary and former UP ISSI director Fortunato T. de la Peña talked about the challenges and successes in empowering MSMEs by sharing DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP initiative.  SETUP aims to add value to local products, enhance competitiveness, and contribute to the creation of employment opportunities in the country.

New entrep journal

The Institute’s new journal entitled MSME Frontier: A Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation was also announced during the symposium. The journal is being developed in coordination with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development and with support from the Small Enterprises Research and Development Foundation.

Dr. Elvira A. Zamora, UP vice-president for development and the journal’s editor-in-chief, shared that she envisions the journal to become a venue for producing relevant research outputs, as “a publication is one way of communicating knowledge, and what is important is that knowledge is relevant.”

Through practical and theoretical studies, the journal aims to help improve the MSMEs’ processes, strategies and outcomes and also aid the government in advancing its economic policies and laws.  The peer-reviewed journal accepts submissions along the topics of enterprise development, SME policy development, entrepreneurship education, green enterprises and innovation.  Original, unpublished paper submissions are most welcome, according to Dr. Zamora, and must be coursed through the journal’s managing editor at issi.research@up.edu.ph.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Nemenzo shared that the University itself can be a platform for businesses.  UP ISSI can be a platform for tapping the rest of the University, exploring strengths and a range of capabilities as a service for the MSMEs.  In light of the new environment businesses are treading and the stronger commitment from the government to support MSMEs, Dr. Nemenzo challenged UP ISSI to reflect on its mandate and on its role as an academic institution.

He concluded by noting that the Institute is aiming to develop an entrepreneurial mindset or an entrepreneurial culture.  Doing so would entail exploring and strengthening UP ISSI’s cooperation with other government institutions.

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