No turning back: MSMEs told to embrace technology to survive FIRe

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should avail of the wide range of enabling tools and programs-many of them freely offered-to help in their smooth transition to digital operations, or fall behind in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe).

PHILEXPORT president Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis, Jr. in a recent e-forum/workshop stressed that “there is no turning back” for MSMEs if they are to survive and thrive in the new economy, one “powered by technology, fueled by information, and driven by knowledge.”

He observed that the pandemic has reaffirmed the need to upgrade processes for enhanced efficiency, cost competitiveness, and business continuity.

“The need has become more urgent now and should be one of the priorities towards recovery, resilience and resurgence,” Ortiz-Luis, Jr. added.

He called on MSMEs-many hard put to cope with the challenges and impact of the pandemic and FIRe-to tap into programs designed to help them upgrade skills and processes.

“Government and private sector are either working together or are separately implementing programs and services to especially assist micro, small and medium enterprises to leverage on existing technologies as one coping mechanism in this pandemic,” Ortiz-Luis, Jr. said.

Brenda Nazareth-Manzano, undersecretary for regional operations at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), in the same e-forum invited MSMEs to take advantage of the programs of the agency tailored to their needs.

“With the fourth industrial revolution becoming a part of today’s reality we really have to gear up so we will not be left out,” said Manzano at the webinar held July 10.

“It is high time for us to develop our forward thinking skills so we may learn to anticipate the future and come up with intelligent strategies and decisions,” she advised.

Manzano said DOST’s programs for MSMEs aim to promote and accelerate the use of technology and innovation in all production sectors. They also seek to increase innovation by enhancing MSMEs’ capacity to operate in the science, technology and innovation or STI ecosystem.

Among these projects are SETUP (Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program); AMERIAL (Advanced Mechatronics, Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory); and, an e-commerce app to help MSMEs widen their reach.

The oneExpert (, on the other hand, is a DOST platform where anyone can ask for technical advice and service.

Meanwhile, Jerry T. Clavesillas, director of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, also asked firms to participate in new webinars and services made especially to SMEs.

Launched during the lockdown period, The CTRL+BIZ: Reboot Now! is a series of free webinars on how MSMEs can transform their business digitally and take advantage of the digital space. Check out for the schedule of sessions.

The Philippine Trade Training Center’s ASEAN SME Academy ( also offers several free online courses to meet the needs of startups, growing enterprises and export-ready businesses, Clavesillas shared.

DTI also recently developed the TechTools for MSMEs, a compilation of available technology-based services and interventions provided by both public and private sectors.

These services are organized into various topics such as e-commerce, e-payment, e-learning and productivity tools for easy reference. The site may be reached at

Clavesillas likewise talked about the Shared Service Facilities project. This is a public-private initiative to house machinery, tools, skills, and knowledge under a shared facility system to make these resources accessible to MSMEs for increased competitiveness.

Relatedly, PHILEXPORT launched last June 23 an initiative called The Road to FIRe Project in support of MSMEs’ digitizing their operations. Under the project, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the DOST, DTI, Department of Labor and Employment, and Development Academy of the Philippines to come up with ways to ease MSMEs’ transition to the digital economy. The recent e-forum/workshop was the next step in The Road to FIRe Project.

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