PLDT steers MSME through rough patch to ‘pandemic recovery’

The country’s largest, fully integrated telecommunications company PLDT recently assured members of the micro, small-to-medium enterprises (MSME) sector that the PLDT group remains committed to help their businesses rebuild and get back on track through digital acceleration to overcome the economic challenges of the pandemic.

During the discussions in the recently organized Asia SME Forum 2021 streamed online, PLDT FVP and Enterprise Revenue Group Head Mitch Locsin echoed the sentiments of a lot of businesses today, particularly the MSMEs, as industries continue to feel the economic losses and long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The MSME segment represent over 99% of total businesses in the country, accounting for over a third of the country’s total employment rate.

“The losses of MSMEs have a significant effect on our national economy. This is why it is important for us in PLDT Enterprise to see how we can help in building that road to recovery,” shared Locsin.

Yet despite the economic slowdown, Locsin presented signs of optimism among entrepreneurs to open up and operate.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) recently shared that business sentiments are improving this 2021 despite the ECQ. The confidence index in the BSP’s Business Expectation Survey for the first quarter of 2021 rose to 17.4 percent from 10.6 percent by 2020’s year-end. 

Locsin noted how the optimism comes from reopening of businesses despite restrictions, the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, and the development of new business and marketing strategies that could make their businesses resilient.

“This shows us the unbreakable spirit of our MSMEs. Filipino entrepreneurs are finding ways to survive and come out stronger even as we come from the worst post-war GDP slump,” he added.

A recent study by the Department of Trade and Industry conducted in February 2021 where 15,400 MSMEs participated showed that 56.4% are fully operating; 39.3% are partially operating; and 4.3% have stopped their operations completely. In addition, 69% have not adopted any forms of E-Commerce.

To help augment their foray into the digital stream, PLDT Enterprise introduced Beyond Fiber in the market as a primary offering to MSMEs during the initial periods of the quarantine restrictions last year. This suite of tailorfit, bundled services help ensure connectivity for businesses despite remote working set ups and provide digital tools to keep their data secure and running, and support their venture in the E-Commerce space.

“For businesses to thrive during – and even moreso after lockdown restrictions, they need to expand their channels from in-store to online – from online stores, websites, social media, or chat. They need to go cashless – and even cardless, through digital payment gateways which provide fast, convenient, real-time, and secured transactions. They need to be connected with strong, reliable, readily available and secured connections – whether fixed, wireless, or a combination of both,” stressed Locsin.

PLDT, together with wireless subsidiary Smart, has heavily invested in building out its network infrastructure to expand coverage and address the needs for digital services and reliable connectivity across the country. Even before the pandemic, PLDT’s continuous roll out has enabled the country with a strong digital backbone to address the connectivity needs and beyond, of industries, businesses, homes, and consumers.

Despite the accelerated surge for more data and connectivity, PLDT’s services and solutions have continued to significantly contribute to the digital transformation initiatives of organizations and aided government in their programs to combat the pandemic.

 “We assure MSMEs of our unbreakable commitment to them – because we know that this sector is key for the inclusive economic recovery of our country. We will continue to provide digital solutions that will support MSMEs as they navigate this new business landscape,” Locsin added