MANILA - After losing "thousands of pesos" due to unsold goods, Calamansi farmer Michelle Mariano turned to online tools to learn new skills and tap new markets beyond her regulars in Quirino province, which is around 300 kilometers north of the Philippines' capital.
With the help of online tools such as Google, the 45-year-old mother of 4 learned to make juices and concentrates to prolong the shelf life of calamansi for her Qmansi brand. Mariano is also currently negotiating an export deal to South Korea with a businessman who found her online with the help of Google My Business.
"Without them, hindi kami makakapenetrate sa mga market. (Without them, we cannot penetrate the market). We’re just starting out," Mariano told ABS-CBN News.
"Napakaliit namin na company sa province, kung wala sila surely hindi kami makakarating sa national as well as opening doors for the international market."
(We're a very small company in the province and without them, we won't be able to scale up to the national level as well as opening doors for the international market.)
Google My Business puts companies in Google Maps for free and allows them to upload information such as phone numbers and operating hours, making it easier for potential customers to find them, Google Philippines GCS lead Samul Jeanblanc told ABS-CBN News.
"If your business is laundry and someone is looking at 'laundry shop near me' but you don’t have an online presence, you will not show up...The call to action for every MSME [micro, small and medium enterprise] is you’re probably offline to begin with but your online presence will be complementary and will grow your business,” Jeanblanc told ABS-CBN News.
"Filipinos are going online. Users are online, the idea is to follow the users, be where the users are, and what we see today is that users are turning to Google search to look for businesses," he said.
Entrepreneurs nationwide will have the opportunity to learn about such tools as Google Philippines and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) launched its partnership called MSME Caravan.
The MSME Caravan will tap DTI’s 1,000-strong Negosyo Centers to bring free Google tools such as Google My Business and Primer "digital upskilling" app to all businesses nationwide through curated workshops.
Small entrepreneurs like Mariano can learn new skills using Google Primer App's free 5-minute digital workshops on finance, e-commerce, social media, customer service, and email marketing, among others, Jeanblanc said.
According to Google, 99.5 percent of enterprises in the country belong to the micro, small and medium category, employing about 63 percent of the total workforce.
Going digital is an "economic booster" that will also help create more jobs for Filipinos, DTI Undersecretary Blesila A. Lantayona told ABS-CBN News.
"It would encourage them to really produce more because they can market more. Going online is one of the best ways in getting to the market, even the worldwide market...It is really giving an economic boost to the Philippines," Lantayona said.
The program has trained some 2,780 MSMEs in 20 cities nationwide, Google Philippines said.