Trade fair, infra for startups at SRP to help small firms

THE Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) debuted the first-ever Cebu Investments Week on Friday, June 9, 2023, to help Covid-19 disrupted businesses, particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Cebu City, with Mayor Michael Rama vowing to do the City’s part by building infrastructure for startups in the South Road Properties

According to CCCI president Charles Kenneth Co, MSMEs can be helped by strengthening the local supply chain ecosystem, particularly for essential industries.

“It so happened that during the pandemic, small businesses were badly affected, hence, we brought out this program targeted to help them recover,” Co told SunStar Cebu on Friday.

As an economic recovery stimulus initiative from the pandemic, CCCI has executed a project called the Cebu Investments Development Concierge Center (CIDCC) in collaboration with the Cebu City Government.

CIDCC has offered around 16 training programs that focus on different areas of business to the local MSMEs to adapt to operations under the new normal.

Business inputs

According to CIDCC core team member Michael Cubos, they have focused their efforts on enabling MSMEs to flourish through the numerous trainings they have created in the past months.

He said they had educated around 3,140 MSME owners, mostly startups, from the 80 barangays in Cebu City, of whom 1,662 attended their training program called Barangay-Based Entrepreneurial Mentoring, which targeted merchants in the city for coaching on how to grow their enterprises.

The second most attended training was the Social Media Marketing with 314 participants, wherein business owners are taught how to use social media as a vehicle to promote their business. The third most attended was the training on Basic Bookkeeping, Accounting and Financial Literacy with 144 learners.

Trade and expo

As proof of the effectivity of CIDCC’s training, 16 of the MSME owners they trained put up booths to sell a range of goods, including food and beverage, and dry goods, and services, at the three-day Cebu Investments Week Trade Fair and Expo that opened Friday at Plaza Sugbu in front of Cebu City Hall.

One of them is 45-year-old Loma Mira Nardo of Mams Varierty Store which sells homegrown delicacies like empanada.

“My business has been running for around seven years already. However, during the pandemic, we were forced to close our shop due to income loss,” she told SunStar Cebu.

Nardo said she lost about P150,000 in revenue as a result of the pandemic. Attending the CIDCC training on Food Handling Safety for Food Service helped her to climb out of the pit of bankruptcy.

CIDCC said the 16 merchants at the expo represent only a small percentage of the successful MSMEs it has coached, which number it did not specify.

Infrastructure for startups

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, during his speech, revealed his plans to construct infrastructure for startups in the South Road Properties.

A startup is a business that is just getting started. Startups are often financed by the founders, who may also make attempts to secure outside financing before they take off.

He said that on one of his travels to Singapore, he saw how the government had developed a space and dedicated it as a hub for startup entrepreneurs to thrive.

Without disclosing details on the budget and the timeline of the project, the mayor assured that this will be done during the current term of his administration that will end in mid-2025.

Cubos of CIDCC welcomed Rama’s plans to build infrastructure for startups, saying this will aid Cebuano startup businesses, particularly those involved in information and communications technology.

“I am pleased hearing his plan because all other developed nations have dedicated resources for such initiative, not just Singapore but in Australia, Europe, and in the United States,” said Cubos.