There has never been a better time to become an entrepreneur as digital technology is making it ever easier for MSMEs to level up their businesses. This was quite apparent as the year’s biggest digital transformation event aimed at encouraging MSMEs to embrace digital transformation got underway last October 24 at the Music Hall of SM Mall of Asia.

Organized by Go Negosyo together with the US Embassy in the Philippines, the Digital Sign Up Now 2022 brought together two growth drivers – micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and digital technology – which together are seen to accelerate inclusive growth in the country. In attendance during the event in Pasay City were MSMEs, founders of digital startups, key executives from leading digital technology companies and incubators, experts in the creative industry, incubators, and startups, as well as young professionals and students in the field of digital technology.

“The game has changed,” said Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion in his opening remarks. “Digitalization has given MSMEs an equal opportunity to move up the ladder of success.  “The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of many MSMEs. They were the ones who benefited immensely from the e-wallets, the delivery apps, and social media, which allowed them to compete alongside the big players. And this is significant for all of us because MSMEs generate more than half of the jobs in the Philippines,” he said.

Digital Sign Up Now 2022 was organized to help MSMEs learn from the experiences and best practices of other entrepreneurs who have successfully transformed their businesses using digital platforms. It will also introduce MSMEs to possible collaborations with the different digital platforms now in the country, as well as learn from professionals specializing in creative services, brand imaging, fintech, as well as cybersecurity.

The Philippines has been cited as the area with the fastest growth in digital consumers, according to the 2021 report “e-Conomy SEA” by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and until the first half of 2021, the country recorded 12 million new digital consumers, 63 percent of whom come from the rural areas of the country.

“There’s really no excuse to not become an entrepreneur now,” said Brian Cu, founder of SariSuki, a community-based retail solution aimed at making essential goods more affordable for ordinary consumers. He was joined in the panel discussion that kicked off the event by startups that offered solutions in small-business management systems (Peddlr), logistics and transport (Angkas), live selling (Shoppertainment), and professional content creation (Tier One Entertainment), who all gave an overview of the possibilities offered by digital technology and social media.

Heather Variava, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in the Philippines, remarked during her speech that  because entrepreneurship already presents risks, attention to cybersecurity mitigates that risk. It is also a priority of the US Government to provide a secure and stable environment, especially for entrepreneurs.

Also present to support the event was Department of Information and Communication Technology USec. David Almirol, who shared that the Philippine government is eyeing to launch by end-2022 a service that aggregates e-commerce platforms specifically suited to small entrepreneurs. SM Supermalls President Steven Tan also expressed SM’s support, saying that 80 percent of its suppliers are MSMEs, and that new concepts are often born from small enterprises.

Attendees at the Digital Sign Up Now 2022 had their pick from the eleven 30-minute sessions, while active entrepreneurs received one—on-one mentoring from big-brother companies and digital experts. Attendees were able to sign up for fintech and capital services, and connected with digital market providers who readily assisted them on how to take their products and services online. They were also able to sign up on site for Go Negosyo’s Angat Lahat sa Digital Alliance.

Lucky aspiring and active entrepreneurs in attendance went home with cash to start and grow their businesses.