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PhilSTAR Media Group champions the future of SMEs

By LAI S. REYES, The Philippine STAR Published Jul 14, 2022 9:58 am Updated Jan 30, 2023 9:39 pm

The lives of 36 of the country’s small business owners are about to change as the PhilSTAR Media Group launches its biggest advocacy program to date: “Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global.”

The advocacy-based yearlong initiative shines the spotlight on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are considered as the economic lifeblood of the Philippines. They account for more than 99.51% of the registered businesses in the country and provide 60% of jobs.

A Helping Hand
Tim Yap with LivClean's Lynet M. Ng and Pinky Yee (fourth from left), Secretary Mon Lopez and PhilSTAR Media Group president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte

The STAR knows all too well that in life and in business, there is no such thing as an overnight success. The inspiring stories of Filipino billionaires, like the late Henry Sy and John Gokongwei, could be traced back to humble ideas that went through multiple iterations before becoming profitable.

And in an arena that’s just as volatile as it is enticing, each day new startups are created — and crushed. A new entrepreneur with the next big thing is always ready to rob you of the spotlight.

Indeed, in order to be successful, one needs a lot of time, energy, resources, hard work, people skills, and ingenuity to overcome the hurdles and emerge triumphant.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon “Mon” Lopez

“That’s why at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), we don’t just tell people to start a business. We want to create smarter entrepreneurs,” says Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon “Mon” Lopez at the launch of PhilSTAR Media Group’s “Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global” advocacy-based, yearlong initiative. “And that’s what the Philippine STAR is creating/doing here with Nakakalocal.”

The Philippine STAR, headed by its president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte, is the first media organization to launch such initiative, which aims to provide opportunities to unleash the full potential of the local SMEs.

The hardworking and amiable secretary, who chose to spend his remaining days in office to inspire some of the country’s SMEs at the Nakakalocal launch, told Belmonte: “This is one advocacy that you can consider me a part of.”

PhilSTAR Media Group president & CEO Miguel G. Belmonte

“After my stint as Secretary of Trade and Industry, I can be one of your advisers,” says Secretary Lopez. “You can pay me P1 a year just to be part of this advocacy. I’m ready to help promote Nakakalocal and the SMEs in general. My heart belongs to SMEs' development.”

Believing in the power of SMEs

As the country’s biggest print-based multimedia company, PhilSTAR Media Group believes in the power of the local SMEs to drive our economy forward and continue building our nation post-pandemic.

“We value the important role they play, and we are so inspired by their extreme passion even amid the crisis. We are in awe of their unmatched resilience,” says PhilSTAR Media Group executive vice president Lucien Dy Tioco. “Through Nakakalocal, we are honored to use all our multimedia platforms — The Philippine STAR, BusinessWorld, Pilipino STAR Ngayon, The Freeman, and PhilSTAR L!fe — to give back to our SMEs, to empower them, and help them grow their businesses further, and lead them to doors of many possibilities.”

PhilSTAR Media Group executive vice-president Lucien C. Dy Tioco

Nakakalocal, a brainchild of Dy Tioco, is an initiative that was brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As businesses came to a halt because of the government-imposed lockdown, a slew of new products and services were pushed online. Most of these finds are undiscovered gems,” shares Dy Tioco. “Despite the crisis, the Filipino resiliency and creativity were pushed to a new level.”

The proliferation of SMEs during the pandemic brought excitement to our otherwise uncertain lockdown lives.

“And that digitalization had given everyone equal opportunities to thrive and scale up,” says Dy Tioco. “Innovation and Filipino ingenuity are catalysts to bringing up local products and services to a whole new level.”

What’s in store for SMEs?

So what really is Nakakalocal and how can SMEs benefit from it?

Nakakalocal is designed to help SMEs that have difficulty accessing knowledge and resources that would make them more productive, business owners who are afraid of leveraging the power of social media.

“Beyond the use of our many diverse platforms, we are also creating a venue for SMEs to connect with mentors, learn new skills, and discover techniques to nurture future growth, together with our supportive partners who share our vision,” adds Dy Tioco.

PhilSTAR Media Group sales and marketing director Jay R. Sarmiento

Jay Sarmiento, PhilSTAR Media Group sales and marketing director, adds that Nakakalocal is a synchronized effort, a collaboration of the sales, marketing, editorial team “all working together with a single goal in mind: To make Nakakalocal’s advocacy come into fruition.”

Showing their all-out support to the Nakakalocal initiative during the launch were industry partners such as SM Supermalls president Steven Tan, SM Supermalls vice president Grace Magno, SM Supermalls senior vice president for marketing Jonjon San Agustin, Villar Group’s Frances Rosalie T. Colomo, director, AllValue and Vista Land; Ortigas Malls vice president, architect Renee Bacani, RLC Malls VP for business development Joel Lumanlan, RLC Malls commercial center division marketing services head Angie Lou Tapales, and RCBC executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer Lito Villanueva.

“As a homegrown Filipino brand and home to over 15,000 MSMEs, as well as the many Pinoy brands, tenants, and suppliers who have grown with us, we give our all-out support for promoting local products and services,” says SM Supermalls president Steven Tan. “We laud the Philippine STAR for Nakakalocal, and partnering with the malls in the country, who are one with SM in growing local brands to become world-class. Mabuhay, Philippine STAR!”

Another staunch supporter of SMEs is Robinsons Malls.

“Robinsons Malls has always been at the forefront in championing the sustainable growth of our SMEs,” enthuses RLC Malls VP for business development Joel Lumanlan. “Our fresh local produce fair, ‘Locally Sourced,’ provides a platform for small entrepreneurs to promote their quality Pinoy products.”

According to Lumanlan, Locally Sourced gives them the opportunity to offer their customers convenient and wider access to fresh and affordable options.

“We have strong partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Agriculture (DA), and LGUs to continue helping small businesses and local farms to thrive during these challenging times,” he adds.

Robinsons Malls is also at the forefront of assisting deserving startups by way of providing retail spaces.

“We thank The Philippine STAR for having Robinsons Malls as an institutional partner of its commendable Nakakalocal program, which is fully consistent with our strategic initiatives to discover and support a new breed of Filipino entrepreneurs,” adds Lumanlan.

When asked what made Ortigas Malls say yes to the Nakakalocal partnership, Ortigas Malls vice president, architect Renee Bacani hastily replied: “Over the years, Greenhills Mall has established itself as a natural business incubator, and we have been consistently supporting MSMEs by offering them a venue to showcase their unique products. Through the Nakakalocal partnership, we believe that the ingenuity of these budding entrepreneurs can further be amplified to reach a global audience and potentially open up more opportunities for them.”

“Congratulations, Philippine STAR, for this purposeful and timely project. We are a proud partner and we share your vision of supporting SMEs and promoting nation-building,” Bacani adds.

RCBC executive vice president and chief innovation and inclusion officer Lito Villanueva says that empowering our MSMEs is the country’s prime growth engine in its rebound phase.

“It must be our collective priority. RCBC DiskarTech is aligned with Nakakalocal as we further promote disruptive innovations and competition in this ever-evolving space,” he adds.

AllValue vice chairman Camille Villar underscores the contribution of MSMEs to the country’s economic progress.

“Supporting Filipino entrepreneurship at the grassroots level is an advocacy that is very close to my heart,” shares Villar. “As a company, I believe that we have made it abundantly clear that we value the passion, grit, and hard work — sipag at tiyaga — of Filipinos, who bet on themselves to succeed even against daunting odds. In our own operations, we make every effort to shine a light on MSMEs, putting their products alongside the best in the world, because we believe they are at par, if not better.”

The PhilSTAR Media Group sales and marketing team with PMG president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte

She adds: “These are but some of the reasons why we count ourselves as partners in STAR’s Nakakalocal initiative. It is time we put the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit on a stage that it richly deserves. But more than a platform for awareness, we believe in its agenda of giving our entrepreneurs access to tools and platforms not only to weather the storm, but to thrive and succeed.”

During its run, Nakakalocal will feature (on The Philippine STAR, BusinessWorld, Pilipino STAR Ngayon, The Freeman, and PhilSTAR L!fe) an integrated multimedia campaign with a series of featured articles and video content on successful SMEs and the “Next Big Thing” in various industries: Food and Delicacies, Digital Technology, Home, Jewelry and Accessories, Clothing, and Health Essentials.

From the roster, Nakakalocal will take 36 selected SMEs—The STAR SMEs—in a full-year program of promotions, learning, and mentoring sessions as it connects SMEs with visionaries from all over the country—from top malls to top financial institutions, to top startup apps.

And with this program, SMEs can look forward to participating in an exciting lineup of events such as online bazaars, live selling, online talks, and e-conventions.

And if you’re chosen as one of the STAR’s 36 SMEs, you’ll be granted P500,000 worth of media values from the PhilSTAR Media Group.

Indeed, “Nakakalocal” is the perfect platform even for aspiring entrepreneurs, students, even homemakers who wish to build their own business and hopefully scale up.

The Bayanihan spirit lives on

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged almost all industries, including the SME segment. But with determination, creativity, diskarte, and a little help from well-meaning individuals, many SMEs managed to survive, go on with their businesses, and continue to serve their customers the best way they know how.

“We have to support each other,” says eventologist and clubpreneur Tim Yap of Yaparazzi Events + PR. “I gained weight during the pandemic because I ate all the sushi bakes, and all the good stuff sold by my former employees— who lost their jobs—to support and give them the morale boost they badly needed that time.”

Yaparazzi, Tim says, suffered a big blow during the onslaught of COVID-19.

“Our business was disrupted. Parties and live events were banned,” Tim narrates. “Soon, we had to let go of like close to 400 employees.”

But before Tim and his staff members parted ways, he advised them to embrace entrepreneurship.

“All of a sudden, they became suppliers of sugpo, alimango, and all the other goods that were abundant in their provinces,” shares Tim. “To support them, my friends and business partners would buy fresh produce from them. And that’s how we all survived—by helping and lifting each other up.”

Celebpreneurs RJ Ledesma and Ara Mina of Hazelberry with Paymongo relationship officer Carrie Nakpil, clubpreneur and eventologist Tim Yap, and Rush chief growth officer James Gasara at the Nakakalocal launch

And now that everything is almost back to normal, Tim happily announces that they’ve hired their staff back.

“Our clubs are operating at more than 100% capacity,” enthuses Tim, who was joined by his fellow celebpreneurs RJ Ledesma, who hosted the event, and Ara Mina of Hazelberry, Paymongo relationship officer Carrie Nakpil, and Rush chief growth officer James Gasara at the Nakakalocal launch held at Casa Buenas, Hotel Okura in Newport City.

“Nakakalocal is a very timely advocacy,” adds Secretary Lopez. “DTI’s Go Local program and PhilSTAR’s Nakakalocal have that shared goal: to help MSMEs upgrade and reach out to the world market. I encourage all MSMEs to join projects like this para lumago ang negosyo nila (to grow their business). Let’s join hands in helping the MSMEs and SMEs go big.”

He adds: “The micro-entrepreneur should not be micro forever. They should start small, go medium, then large before they become big guys in the future. That’s why through DTI’s Go Local and STAR’s Nakakalocal, let’s teach and guide them to grow bigger.”

In his closing remarks, Philstar Media Group EVP thanked all the celebpreneurs, STAR SMEs, and industry partners.

“Thank you for believing in our mission to uplift our SMEs and our homegrown brands, and to give them the spotlight that they deserve,” he enthuses. “I hope that together, we can make more Filipino entrepreneurs’ dreams take flight.”