The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking to enhance the role of cooperatives in expanding the reach of government programs for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), especially those in the countryside, said trade secretary Ramon Lopez.
The trade chief said DTI and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) will continue to harmonize policies and coordinate programs and activities to help cooperatives strengthen and maximize their role in empowering those at the grassroots level.
Lopez explained that cooperatives make a significant economic difference in the lives of their members while contributing to their overall well-being and the growth of their communities.
“They have been our ally in empowering our MSMEs, allowing DTI programs to be accessible in their respective areas such as our microfinance loans and shared service facilities,” he added.
Lopez recently shared which DTI programs cooperatives play an important role in. He said cooperatives partner with DTI’s Small Business (SB) Corporation, and become credit delivery partners for the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) microfinance loan program of the government.
To improve MSME competitiveness, DTI also awards shared service facilities (SSF) to cooperatives and associations by providing them machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system.
The agency also eyes partnering with cooperatives in its Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay, where MSME development programs are extended to the barangay and community levels.
DTI said it has helped many MSMEs and cooperatives through its programs. For example, through the SSF awarded by DTI to the City of Gapan Footwear Multi-purpose Cooperative in Nueva Ecija, the cooperative helped Rolando Pascual establish his own brand, the Bagong Likha Footwear.
Likewise, the SSF awarded to Santo Niño de Parish Multi-purpose Cooperative in Leyte allowed the local community to create its pandan and bariw products. Through machinery and mentoring as well as training programs in product development and marketing provided by DTI, the products are now being exported to the United States and Indonesia.
Marawi residents affected by the siege were also awarded with SSFs through various cooperatives such as Maranao Collectibles Services Cooperative, which received langkit weaving equipment, and Lower Bangon Marawi Consumer Cooperative, which received palapa production machinery. The equipment aims to bring back the vibrant trading in Marawi and uplift the lives of many Maranaos, said DTI.
Cebu People’s Multi-purpose Cooperative in Cebu City is one of SB Corporation’s credit delivery partners for the P3 program. The cooperative has assisted 1,076 MSMEs in their city, including market and karinderia vendors.
“Stronger collaboration between government, the cooperatives, and the private sector will boost the programs for our MSMEs. This will allow us to spread the delivery of basic services to the grassroots level even as we implement our poverty alleviation and inclusive growth programs,” Lopez concluded.