The only way to reduce poverty in a way that’s sustainable is by promoting economic growth through the creation of wealth and employment opportunities. And in a developing country like the Philippines, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make for crucial economic drivers.

Not only are SMEs a major source of income, they also serve as good breeding grounds for entrepreneurs and they contribute largely to providing employment opportunities for the unemployed.

The critical role SMEs play in the Philippine economy has never been more pronounced today, with all agencies from governments to financial institutions identifying it as critical growth areas. “Everybody is now looking at the SME component,” informs Manny Aligada, head of Globe Telecom’s Corporate and SME Segments, adding that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently reported over a million registered businesses now in the Philippines, with SMEs making up 99.6 percent of the pie.

Globe Negostar
Realizing the vital role SMEs play on economic development, Globe launched its Globe Negostar deals, which provide tailored Information Communication Technology (ICT) requirements exclusively for SMEs like Ehje’s Peanut Butter. “The success of SMEs,” Aligada asserts, “depends on how efficiently they manage their limited resources—and basic communication, mobility, and at the very least a good broadband connection rank highly on any entrepreneur’s list of requirements to effectively run and keep track of his business.”

With Globe Negostar, SMEs are provided ICT solutions that give them the added boost they need to optimize their processes and serve their clients better. Jennilyn Antonio, the entrepreneur behind Ehje’s Peanut Butter, uses Globe’s suite of solutions to keep track of her product inventory and quality in Ehje’s more than 600 distributors.

“We distribute our products through supermarkets and bakeshops,” Antonio informs, “at malaki ang natutulong ng Globe sa pagpalago ng negosyo, lalo na sa product monitoring. Kailangan kasi mataas pa rin ang product quality kaya madalas namin inaupdate ang stocks sa bakeshops and supermarkets.”

Globe Negostar is clearly a partnership that bodes well for both Globe and its partner SME. “It’s a high growth unit now,” informs Aligada. “Globe Business started identifying SMEs around mid-2000—ganon kaaga—but now it’s coming out as a critical segment of Globe. Whereas our consumer segment has always been the bigger cut of our revenues, we’re seeing that the growth is really in the business segment. Last year we grew by 15 percent on Globe Business.”

One-stop Shop
Globe Negostar focuses on the specific business requirements of SMEs, providing cost-efficient, reliable and high value for money communication services that include Tracker GPS, Inventory Ordering System (IOS), WebEye, TxtConnect and Direct Internet.

The Tracker GPS, which enables entrepreneurs to monitor moving assets in real time, is actually applicable not only to businesses alone. “One LGU (local government unit) actually used the tracker technology to improve the efficiency of their police beat,” injects Aligada.

“Another application is when LGUs track their ambulances, which helps especially when there are critical parties involved. We also work with LGUs who are looking into providing good services to their constituents,” he adds.

According to Aligada, identifying which industries are blooming is high on Globe’s list of priorities. “There are so many schools all over the country that are now connected to other countries,” he points out as an example, adding that English tutorial schools are particularly promising.

“Amazing industries are coming about that were not there three or two years ago,” Aligada shares. “Globe Business’ role now,” he continues, “is to primarily make sure we know where the businessmen are, what type of business they have, get to know their requirements, and then develop solutions to fit their needs. That’s the kind of information we want—nasaan ang negosyo so we can wire the areas. Government, educational institutions, developing industries—Laguna and Batangas have a lot, and there are many other locators that are building factories in these places, and all of them need connectivity.”

Published in the Business Agenda section of Manila Bulletin, August 1, 2011