Google, DTI aims to digitize Filipino small businesses

To help micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) grow their businesses, Google Philippines and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched the MSME Caravan at Google’s headquarters in Bonifacio Global City, Manila last February 6, 2020. 

“Digitize Filipino” MSME Caravan

This project was launched due to the low percentage of businesses that haven’t fully utilized the Internet. According to DTI that 99.52% of businesses in the country are MSMEs which employ 63% of the local workforce and are responsible for generating 25% of the country’s total export revenue. However, a lot of businesses are still operating using the traditional path of marketing their products and services and only about one percent have gone fully online.

For this reason, under the Grow with Google program, the said caravan is executed for the purpose of teaching small business owners improve their digital skills and leverage the use of digital tools and technologies to improve their business’ growth, become more competitive, and gain more advantages in the online marketplace.

During the launching, Google Philippines Country Director, Bernadette Nacario said, “Filipino MSMEs have the drive, the passion, and the dedication to succeed. Combine that with the new tools and opportunities of the Internet, and there is no limit on what’s possible for them! We hope that the MSME Caravan will help bring on board more trainees, visit more communities, and give more business owners the digital skills they need.”

As of this day, the series of workshops have already started with over 2,780 MSME owners trained in over 20 cities across eight regions nationwide. Moreover, Google and DTI still hope to reach 100,000 businesses as the caravan continues to be conducted throughout this year.

“The Department of Trade and Industry is committed to spur the MSME development in the country and our partnership with Google helps us achieve this goal. We hope that our joint digital upskilling program will help more MSMEs become competitive, engage with consumers effectively, and drive business growth,” DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in a statement.

Google My Business and the Primer App

Google Search Engine

In this fast-paced era, businesses need to adapt to new and innovative technologies in order to gain success. A huge aspect of today’s millenium is the Internet and with this, online presence has now become one of the most important things for people and businesses to have. Besides, with the shift of the purchasing behaviour of worldwide consumers, businesses need to be online in order to put themselves on the map or in this case, in the Google Map. 

This is why, part of the project’s goals is to teach entrepreneurs to be in-the-loop on the digital landscape and obtain consumer insights using Google platforms which includes Google My Business and the Primer app that are both useful in their daily operations and entrepreneurial improvement. 

Primarily, Google My Business allows entrepreneurs to create a free listing for their business. With this, businesses can add important details and even create posts and share these on the same platform. This platform even includes reviews, Q&A pages, bookings, direct contact, and insights to help businesses understand their customers better.

Apart from that, Google My Business also improves online visibility. According to Google Philippines Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy Yves Gonzales that registered businesses on this platform appear on the “near me” search results which mainly helps those individuals who are searching for businesses, products, and services near their current location.

“When you have a tourist coming to the Philippines and he wants to try lechon in the Philippines, the first thing that the tourist will do is to search Google Maps or Google Search ‘lechon near me’. When you have your own website, you will be searchable and be searched in the Maps,” he added.

Besides, with Google’s report that “near me” search queries have increased by 2.5 times in the last 3 years from 2017 to 2019, this definitely proves that businesses should really be using the platform.

Apart from Google My Business, the Primer app also enables business owners to learn about the field of digital marketing. In using this app, entrepreneurs can download lessons and courses such as branding, digital marketing, and online selling that they can use in building their website and increase their online reputation.

With this, Gonzales said, “Another important thing is validation. It adds credibility to the MSME, especially when we are talking about exporting. When a potential buyer looks up your business, the first thing they’ll ask themselves is let’s go to their website and let’s see who their corporate people are and their experiences. It really helps the business to grow internally and even export-wise when they have their own website.”

Hence, those who  cannot attend the MSME Caravan and those who want to dwell deeper in the Internet marketing industry can use this tool.

The Success of Going Digital for Businesses

GMB Digitalize Small businesses

Apart from launching the project and highlighting the benefits of going digital, successful MSME owners have also shared their success stories. 

A former accountant turned businesswoman from Quirino province, Michelle Mariano saw the benefits of using Google My Business in the growth of the business which she and her husband started in 2016. Started as a business that only produces calamansi puree, Qmansi (Quirino calamansi) are already producing ready-to-drink juice and concentrate products.

As the business continued to grow, Michelle pondered how to expand Qmansi outside Quirino. Luckily, she discovered Google My Business through a DTI seminar in the province. She immediately made an account and this helped her acquire her first customers in Manila and other places in the country. A Korean businessman even found her business through the platform and recently visited their farm for a partnership offer. Currently, Qmansi is now producing 5,000 bottles of products every day.

“We are humbled that Qmansi has gone places because of Google My Business. We are also proud at the same time that because of our products, more people now recognize the province of Quirino. We are grateful to DTI and Google for the training that they conducted which helped us reach where we are right now,” said Mariano.

Other than Marianno, local MSME owners Gerome Panlilio (Germano Chili) and Beltran Almendral (Anito’s Dried Pork) were also present in the campaign launch to speak about the impact of digitization to their businesses and how being online has helped them connect their products and business to the local and international market.

“No matter how little your impact is, you can always make it work. Through the help of the government and digitalization, everything is easier to reach,” Panlilio shared.

Hence, for businesses that aim to connect with a much wider audience and take advantage of online platforms, get listed to Google My Business, use the Primer app to boost your skills in digital marketing, and join the MSME Caravan in the closest Negosyo Center near you!

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