MANILA - The ease of doing business remains a huge challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to thrive in the Philippines, an expert pointed out on Thursday.

Scott Anthony, managing partner of consulting firm Innosight, said the government's regulatory issues and shortfall in public infrastructure make it difficult for business start-ups to succeed despite economic growth in country.

"There's a huge amount of potential here. What holds you back? Infrastructure very clearly is an issue. Regulatory barriers and red tape are as well," Anthony said in an interview with Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart.

Having worked for a number of companies globally, Anthony said the Philippines can learn from Singapore, where "there are a lot but very transparent rules and world-class infrastructure" which aid SMEs to flourish.

He said the Philippines and Singapore have a very similar context where small businesses serve as the backbone of the economy, yet the latter was able to facilitate it more by providing ample support for entrepreneurs.

"In Singapore, they create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem which didn't exist ten years ago," he said.

"The easier you make it on business, the easier it is for businesses can grow and expand," he added.

Anthony said the Philippine government should provide continuous training and accessible grants to support SMEs, enabling them to drive creativity and innovation which are in line of the country's hosting of the APEC Summit.

As innovation is another buzzword in empowering small businesses, Anthony said the government should also help entrepreneurs realize their potential through creativity and determination.

"A mistake that people make is they think innovation is magical, it's mysterious, it's a black art. Either you have the gene or you don't have the gene. That's not true," he said.

"Innovation is a discipline that anybody can learn with conscious practice," Anthony added.

He also said aside from the government, people should also take advantage of the abundant information from various sources, educating themselves on how to efficiently deliver their ideas to succeed in their respective lines of business.

Despite the hurdles facing SMEs in the country, Anthony expressed confidence in Filipinos' ability to foster growth among struggling entrepreneurs with the government's drive for reforms.

“The most important thing is to keep doing what you’re doing. I think continuing to push reform, to continue the fight against corruption, to continue to boost infrastructure investment, that to me is the most critical thing that I’ll be watching," he said.

"The Philippines, I’m hopeful that this time it’s gonna be different and we’re gonna continue to see the great progress we’ve seen over the last few years,” Anthony added..