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Union Bank seeks to teach SMEs to grow their businesses online

By: - Writer / Editorial Production Assistant / @Inq_Lifestyle
/ 04:33 AM October 02, 2015
Genaro Lapez

Genaro Lapez

There are more than 39 million Filipino Internet users, but only a small portion of this population uses the worldwide web to promote money-making ventures.

Union Bank of the Philippines executive vice president Genaro Lapez says only 1 percent of the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) use a website to leverage their businesses.

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Union Bank, together with partners and local government units, is thus introducing the Ureka Forum to encourage and help community-based SMEs to grow their businesses online and expand their markets globally.

The forum showcases e-commerce talks, strategic networking and collaboration, as well as an “e-commerce circuit.”

The circuit focuses on business development by helping SMEs jump-start e-commerce expansion by providing them with their banking, logistics, or IT configuration needs.

It will also be an opportunity for local business owners to personally consult experts on industry-specific queries as they expand to digital commerce.

E-commerce platform

About 150 business participants will have a fully functional website for their businesses after the event.

“They (participants) will have their own e-commerce platform. We will help them design it and make it operational [right after the forum],” he adds.

The first leg of the regional forum will be held on Oct. 3 in Baguio City, a prime mover of the Cordillera Administrative Region’s  economy.

“The region has a combination of industries that make it resilient—agriculture, tourism, manufacturing. Now, it’s also beginning to become a BPO (business process outsourcing) hub. We would like businesses to use e-commerce to perform even better,” Lapez says.

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Local SMEs in CAR and nearby Tarlac, Dagupan, Pangasinan and La Union may register at www.urekaforum.ph.

Lapez hopes the forum series will help the number of SMEs in e-commerce grow to 60 percent—the same percentage of the Filipino population online.

The forum will be brought next to Visayas and Mindanao.

“With e-commerce, SMEs would be able to amplify what they are already doing on the non-digital side. Growing the industry would give far more opportunities—exports is one. And one could take advantage of the brick and mortar downtime as orders come in any time of the day via the websites,” he adds.

Lapez emphasizes that although many SMEs find it effective to use social media sites to promote and sell their products, these platforms lack integrated customer management functions like taking orders, payment methods, and a direct feedback and inquiry system.

He says websites will make the e-commerce experience easier and better for both the customers and business owners.

Asean integration

He adds that the Ureka forum, which seeks to enable the mass-conversion of SMEs to e-commerce, is also seen to add value in the economy in time for the Asean integration and the country’s participation in Apec.

Even the Department of Trade and Industry, in creating the 2020 E-commerce road map, recognizes that the increased participation of SMEs in the local and global markets using digital commerce will boost inclusive growth and create more sustainable communities.

The e-commerce sector is estimated to grow sales to $2 billion this year.

It’s time that more SMEs ride that growth wave.

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TAGS: Business Features, Genaro Lapez, smes, Union Bank, Ureka Forum
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