Slingshot Philippines pushes for the development of the innovation economy

Breakout sessions are also conducted regarding topics on mentoring and coaching, programs for startups and innovators, and business development strategies for startups.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently staged Slingshot Philippines 2016 at the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) in Pasay City, kicking off a two-day national summit on startups and innovation revolving around the theme, “Accelerating the Innovation Economy.”

The event kicked off national consultations for the crafting of policies and programs to develop a new breed of innovative enterprises, covering the fields of agriculture, biotechnology, electronics, and digital startups, among others.

The two-day summit gathered together like-minded trailblazers under one roof: innovators with unique ideas for the community, investors who fund startup ideas, and policymakers who can provide an enabling business environment.

Around 50 speakers and panelists spoke on issues concerning funding, the current status and the future of Philippine startups, and strategies towards a Philippine innovation economy before 577 conference delegates. These delegates attended the national summit to actively take part in a government-initiated platform for public dialogue and partnership that will help boost the development of Philippine startups for a robust innovation economy.

There were also breakout sessions that covered topics on mentoring and coaching, programs for startups and innovators, and business development strategies for startups.

Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr., Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado, and Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino share their thoughts and policies for the future of the Philippine innovation economy.

“Changing the ecosystem and putting in place policies responsive to the needs of the innovativion economy will not happen overnight. However, close collaboration of the government and key players will enable the Philippines to foster the desired new breed of business more quickly and efficiently. We want the next big tech startup to come from the Philippines,” said Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr.

Secretary Cristobal is a steadfast advocate of MSMEs as an integral part of the country’s pursuit towards regional economic integration. He said the DTI had already started implementing programs such as Slingshot to help overcome the hindrances that constrain the growth of MSMEs and provide startups and innovative businesses an environment that will nurture their capabilities.

Karla Legasi of the Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology (DOST-ICT) talks about programs for startups during a breakout session. (Photos by Jasfrey Carandang/CITEM)

Senator Aquino has been the forerunner of six startup-friendly policies that support the innovation community. Among these are the Go Negosyo Act (RA 10644) which initiates the establishment of ‘Negosyo Centers’ that create linkages to bigger markets and financing as well as provide jobs and livelihood to people, the Microfinance NGOs Act (RA 10693) which supports the groups that guide and empower micro entreprenuers, and the Youth Entrepreneurship & Financial Literacy Act (RA 10679) which builds a culture of entrepreneurship as an alternative solution to unemployment and underemployment.

“Why (support) MSMEs? Because we must. Our MSME sector is at the forefront of pushing the growth of the Philippines,” said Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, chair  of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

For her part, Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado of the Industry Promotions Group (IPG) commended the local economy’s unyielding growth despite the many challenges the country faces with the global economic slowdown.

“We have gained momentum, but we can do more. We realized from our dialogues with the private sector that our country can benefit from a far-reaching and scalable innovation within a well-planned, well-organized government supported frameworks,” said Undersecretary Terrado.

Over the past few years, the Philippine economy has shown a promising ground for the startup community. In 2015, the country jumped 83rd in the Global Innovation Index, 17 notches higher from its previous rank in 2014. Bloomberg Businessweek also revealed that the Philippines’ ranked sixth among the top countries where talents are being sourced.

Slingshot Philippines 2016 is the direct offshoot of Slingshot Manila 2015, the official startup and innovation event for the Philippines’ hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) organized by the DTI, in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and other key industry stakeholders. (With reports from KSGuerzon)

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‘Crafts of Palawan’ gives hope to local artisans

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“This project is so heartwarming for us! When you go to the barangays, you’ll notice several areas of improvement. And we saw that the people are really exerting an effort to improve on their craft and generate livelihood for the rest of their community. These are some of our objectives, and I can say that they have been met.”

Noemi Avancena, product development consultant of the USAID-COMPETE Project, talks about the agency’s collaboration with the Provincial Government of Palawan for the exhibit of MSMEs at Manila FAME.

Noemi Avancena of USAID-COMPETE.

Noemi Avancena, product development consultant of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), could not help but be proud of the end result of a long and arduous journey towards the development of self-sufficiency among the small enterprises and group of artisans tapped by USAID for the Crafts of Palawan project.

Avancena, along with representatives from USAID, and the Provincial Government of Palawan, was at the recently concluded Manila FAME where the select group of Palawan-based small cooperatives and enterprises showcased for the first time their handcrafted products using locally available, sustainable materials.

Eva Valledor of Binuatan Creations shares her experience on how programs like USAID-COMPETE create livelihood opportunities for small enterprises like hers.

Eva Valledor of Binuatan Creations.

The Crafts of Palawan booth put on display over 200 newly developed products, ranging from handicrafts and furniture items to houseware, fashion accessories, and souvenir items.

Eva Valledor, manager of Binuatan Creations which was part of the Crafts of Palawan at Manila FAME, shared that the program has been a tremendous help to her dedicated team of grass gatherers, who regularly source out raw materials like indigenous grass and fibers such as buntal fibers, mangrove grass, buri sprigs, vetiverabaca, and other varieties of wild grass found mainly in the province. Binuatan Creations manufactures woven products like bags, pouches, placemats, table runners, purses, slippers, and window shades.

“Exporters are asking samples from us. For each buyer inquiry, an opportunity is given not only to us but to the grass gatherers as well. We’re not yet in the export industry, but I personally would like to learn the tricks of the trade,” said Valledor.

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Pearl jewelry by Nitz Pearls, Gems & Souvenir Shop.

Binuatan Creations was one of the five MSMEs which participated in the Crafts of Palawan showcase at the 63rd Manila FAME along with AVT Bambuhay, Bacolod Rattan Furniture Shop, Malampaya Pancol Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and Nitz Pearl, Gems & Souvenir Shop.

The collaborative project of the Provincial Government of Palawan and the USAID through the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project has already assisted over 18 micro-entrepreneurs and 50 local artisans since 2014. As a culminating activity, they joined the 63rd show edition of Manila FAME after an intensive six-month product development with international lifestyle designer PJ Arañador and a series of design consultations with USAID-COMPETE consultants.

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Rattan storage baskets by Bacolod Rattan Furniture Shop.

“A lot of work still needs to be done, but we are already thankful to the Provincial Government of Palawan for being so supportive,” added Avancena.

Foreign trade buyers particularly from the US, Netherlands, Germany, and Japan flocked to the Crafts of Palawan booth which encouraged the exhibitors to join the succeeding editions of Manila FAME as well as other local and international trade shows.

“It’s not just the sales, but the experience here as well. They (the companies) observe a lot of things in this area. They see new ideas from other producers and their competitors. We can say that we have achieved our goals,” said Avancena, adding that the USAID is in close touch with the Provincial Government of Palawan to discuss possibilities of continuing the noble project to help local MSMEs in promoting their products and expanding their business networks.

To boost the tourism sector of the country, USAID-COMPETE and the Provincial Government of Palawan launched a souvenir products development program for the artisans of the province, which serves as the debut collaborative effort for an exhibit at the 63rd edition of Manila FAME. (Photos by Jasfrey Carandang/CITEM)

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Husband-and-wife team strikes ‘green gold’

The award-winning Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo is RRDI’s best-selling product and is being exported abroad.

The Rainiers Research and Development Institute (RRDI) started as a backyard business of husband-and-wife team, Dr. Rainier Villanueva and nurse-wife Victoria, who formulated their own herbal shampoo made from lawat leaves: the Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo.

A neurosurgeon, pharmacist, and medical technologist all rolled into one, Dr. Villanueva was drawn to the idea of marrying the traditional herbal treatment with modern medical practice. He conducted intensive researches and experiments to process the raw ingredients and turn them into a more convenient form meant for daily usage.

RRDI executive vice-president Victoria “Vicky” Villanueva holds a pack of lawat leaves, the main ingredient for the company’s best-selling product, the Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo.

The shampoo is composed mainly of the leaves acquired from the lawat plant which is indigenous in the Visayan region, particularly in the island of Masbate. RRDI sources the raw ingredients used in its products directly from the province which, in return, provides livelihood to the locals.

Dr. Villanueva developed the fascination with the all-natural, traditional body treatments in his home province of Masbate. “In the early days, people in Masbate used lawat leaves to treat their hair and scalp problems such as dandruff and hair fall. These leaves are crushed and turned into a gelatinous form and applied directly into the scalp,” explains Victoria “Vicky” Villanueva, executive vice-president of RRDI.

Through word-of-mouth advertising, the Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo became widely known not only locally but also internationally. From the shelves of local supermarkets, the shampoo eventually reached retail shops in foreign shores and even clinched a prestigious award in the 27th Salon International Des Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland way back in 1999.

‘Tawas’ roll-on deodorant by Lauat.

RRDI manufactures and distributes personal care products made of all-natural ingredients. Lauat Hair Treatment Shampoo is notably the first non-medical product distributed by Zuellig Pharma, a Swiss pharmaceutical company based in the Philippines. This helped build the company’s strong branding presence in the market. It is now being exported abroad, to countries such as the US, Norway, Germany, Australia, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and Malaysia where there is a captive market.

Handcrafted soap bars by Lauat.

From its humble beginnings as a simple husband-and-wife business endeavor in 1989, RRDI grew to be one of the pioneers and recognized Philippine companies in the field of herbal and natural products such as shampoos, conditioners, soaps, deodorants, and other herbal treatments. The company has then developed more personal care products made from all-natural ingredients like lawat, gugo, akapulco, virgin coconut oil, carrot, calamansi, and tawas.

These all-natural RRDI products were showcased in the recently concluded 63rd Manila FAME, a trade show which showcases finely crafted products covering the home, holiday and gifts, and fashion sectors crafted in the Philippines for the global market. RRDI’s participation in this trade show has allowed the company to expand its market reach even more.

RRDI was one of the select companies featured in the Department of Agriculture (DA) Pavilion, which showcased a wide range of food gifts, body care and wellness products, manufactured by local communities supported by the DA-Agribusiness Marketing Service (DA-AMAS). The company’s partnership with DA and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), organizer of Manila FAME, gave Manila FAME trade buyers and visitors a welcome opportunity to get to know up close RRDI’s product lineup of carefully formulated herbal products.

AT THE 63RD MANILA FAME. RRDI’s executive vice president Victoria “Vicky” Villanueva (center)) with production manager Violeta Ferrer (left) and research and development head Rodel Atiga at the RRDI showcase at the DA Pavilion. (Photos by Jasfrey Carandang/CITEM)

From a simple backyard business, RRDI has become a full-fledged manufacturing company that positions itself as a one-stop service provider in the areas of R&D, raw material sourcing, product development, toll manufacturing/private labeling, product testing, and packaging development.

“If you want posterity and a continuation of your legacy, you have to have your own brand,” concludes Villanueva, who shares that RRDI also has a CSR program that involves sending several underprivileged youth to school and granting them part-time employment. (With reports from KSGuerzon)

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Yakan weavers showcase their art and culture at OTOP

Angie Ilul (right), an active member of the Yakan Weavers Albarakkattu Multi-Purpose Cooperative, represented the cooperative in the 63rd Mania FAME with her brother.

When the Yakan Weavers Albarakkattu Multi-Purpose Cooperative decided to be part of the One Town, One Product (OTOP) program in the 63rd Manila FAME at the World Trade Center (WTC), they knew that they were off to a good start.

The multi-purpose cooperative’s OTOP booth displayed a wide array of handwoven souvenir items — from wall décor, table runners, place mats, and shawls to slippers, purses, bags, espadrilles, and travel kits. Both local and international visitors to the trade show liked the quality of the material and the fine craftsmanship of these authentic Yakan products.

The Yakan Weavers Albarakkattu Multi-Purpose Cooperative carries out the responsibility to provide quality handwoven products for sustaining the development of the Yakan community, both locally and internationally.

“Each product we have here is a labor of love. It entails a slow and steady process. A one-meter cloth material with intricate and beautiful motifs, for instance, takes around five days to finish,” said Angie Ilul, a multi-purpose cooperative member who actively champions the cause of the local weavers in Zamboanga and Basilan.

The Yakans, who are exquisitely known for the vibrancy of color in their cloth and their exceptional weaving techniques, exert so much effort and consume days in every fiber they weave to create a vibrant and colorful single handmade cloth. It is said that almost every Yakan fabric can be described as ‘unique’ since the finished products are not exactly identical. There will always be differences that can be seen in the pattern, design, or distribution of colors.

Ilul, who has a village shop in Zamboanga and who has 20 weavers under her helm, shared that the cooperative was able to generate approximately Php100,000.00 in sales during the four-day trade show. “This is already good. If only we have the capacity to increase our production, we can meet the demands of the foreign buyers we meet here at Manila FAME. Right now, we’re just using the mano mano style,” said Ilul who also participates in other local trade shows in Metro Manila and in the provinces.

Weaving, she added, is the only form of livelihood of the Yakan women in the Yakan Village in Zamboanga City and in Basilan. It is a tradition carefully passed down from one generation to another – from the lola to the nanay up to the granddaughter.  It has become an after-school pastime for quite a number of school girls who, as young as seven, would engage in textile weaving done on a back strap loom so they could earn some extra income for their school allowance.

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Bestsellers at the Manila FAME…Yakan handwoven wallets.

For her part, Ilul would like to delve into product development that would allow her and her team of local weavers to cater to the needs and demands of the global market. She currently envisions to have more Yakan handwoven products with simple color combinations which trade buyers from Japan, Korea, and some European countries find more appealing. “We might have these products for the October 2016 edition of Manila FAME,” she said.

Their participation in Manila FAME afforded the Yakan Weavers Albarakkattu Multi-Purpose Cooperative a considerable amount of market exposure which, in turn, would benefit the weaving communities in Zamboanga and Basilan. The multi-purpose cooperative also promotes its Yakan products through social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram.

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The cooperative’s stall at the OTOP during the 63rd Manila FAME at the World Trade Center. (Photos by Jasfrey Carandang/CITEM)

“We are extremely grateful to the Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (BDTP) for allowing us to join Manila FAME where we can promote and sell our products as well as help the small entrepreneurs…the weavers back in Basilan,” said Ilul.

The OTOP program of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion (DTI-BDTP) is a priority program of the government that aims to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in the country’s various regions.

Manila FAME is a bi-annual showcase of craftsmanship, design innovation, and artisanship in Philippine products. Organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of DTI, it features finely selected furniture and home furnishings, holiday gifts and décor, and fashion accessories designed and crafted in the Philippines for the global market.

For the 63rd show edition, Manila FAME returned to its April season to bring the global trade buyers to the optimal buying cycle. It was envisioned to be a specialized one-stop source of high-concept products and an exclusive platform for business matching between choice exporters and buyers.

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Food Philippines to showcase bestsellers in the world’s largest food fair

Going loco over coco...the Philippine coconut is touted as 'The Tree of Life.'

Going loco over coco…the Philippine coconut is touted as ‘The Tree of Life.’ (Photos courtesy of CITEM)

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), the export promotions arm of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is gearing up for the country’s much-awaited participation in Anuga, the world’s largest and most important food and beverage fair slated in Cologne, Germany on October 10-14, 2015.

The Philippine Pavilion at the Koelnmesse in Cologne will showcase the newest products of 30 premium food companies with culinary demonstrations and unlimited food sampling. A highlight of the Philippine presence in Anuga will be business matching activities and a Philippine business presentation before European trade buyers.

“The country’s presence in Anuga will be themed under the industry brand of Food Philippines. Anuga is considered by food and beverage industry players as the leading source of information on product trends, innovative products and distribution schemes. It is the ideal platform to reinforce the country’s brand promotion of the Food Philippines Premium 7, which include banana, cacao, coconut, coffee, mango, pineapple, and tuna,” said Rosvi Gaetos, executive director of CITEM.

Banana chips are favorite healthy snacks in the Philippines.

Banana chips: a healthy snack in the Philippines.

The participating Philippine food manufacturers will join the world’s leading food fair for the retail trade, food service, and manufacturing market. They will carry a wide range of the country’s best-selling food export products like seafood, tropical fruit products, organic muscovado sugar, coconut products, among many others. New food applications and derivatives like coconut chew, coconut flour, frozen tropical fruits, and pouch tuna will be presented to approximately 155,000 decision-makers from the retail, manufacturing, and food service sectors visiting Anuga.

The Philippine delegation to Anuga will be led by Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo, Jr. of the Industry Promotions Group (IPG), who will meet with key food importers and distributors in Europe to boost Philippines-EU trade relations, especially in the light of the Philippines being the only Southeast Asian country accorded with the GSP+ status for 10 years (2014-2024).

The Philippine mango is to die for...whether served fresh or dried.

The Philippine mango is always in demand — whether served fresh (background) or dried (foreground).

The country’s participation in this major industry event will highlight the potential benefits of the European Union (EU) GSP+ to the Philippines. Exports of the Philippines to the EU are expected to increase after the country’s official inclusion in the EU GSP+ Program in December last year. More products will be accorded zero duty.

“We at DTI and CITEM are confident that trade buyers from the food and beverage industry all over the world will find our product lineup to be refreshing and even inspirational. It is going to be a ‘Taste by Design experience,’” said Undersecretary Manalo.

DTI has been campaigning recently about the advantages of exporting under the EU GSP+ scheme, and encouraging qualified exporters to maximize opportunities from the said scheme. The EU GSP+ is a system of tariff preferences granted unilaterally by the EU to products originating from developing countries. It is a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance in the form of zero duties.

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