Innovation hub launched to help start-ups, MSMEs


After a decade of successful mentoring of student-microentrepreneurs, Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development Inc. and Citi Microenterprise Development Center launched the Creativity and Innovation Hub to assist both startups and micro, small and medium enterprises to make them more resilient in the face of challenges.

Innovation hub launched to help start-ups, MSMEs
Citi Philippines country head Aftab Ahmed and Bayan Academy chairman and president Eduardo Morato Jr.

Citi Philippines country head Aftab Ahmed expressed satisfaction over the long-standing partnership with Bayan Academy, the Department of Trade and Industry, community partners, and business leaders for the new initiative. 

“We truly value this partnership. For the past 10 years, CMDC has developed numerous programs that has contributed in the growing the businesses of more than 6,700 MSMEs. This in turn has also positively impacted the communities in which these businesses operate,” Ahmed said.

Funded by Citi Foundation, CMDC was established to promote entrepreneurship among low-income microfinance clients, giving them the opportunity to receive quality training and customized coaching and business advisory from a pool of subject matter experts that include Citi employees.

Through CMDC, Citi and Bayan Academy seek to address the skills gap and empower entrepreneurs to grow and sustain their micro businesses, help them evolve in the new environment and penetrate global space. 

“The CMDC creativity and innovation hub could not have come at a better time. Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic pushed us to adapt and think of what we is needed to create growth and enable progress for our businesses and community,” Ahmed said.

In 2021, the CMDC Hub will focus on supporting startups and MSMEs. Startups play a significant role in economic growth to job creation, wealth creation and communities where they operate, breakthrough technologies that create value and economic dynamism by spreading innovation and injecting competition, said Ahmed.

“The pandemic has impacted all businesses from micro enterprises to large corporations. Income stream of MSMEs have been impacted due to the pandemic. As these businesses step up their business activity, they will need assistance to help them pursue growth opportunities and sustained business growth during the pandemic,” Ahmed said.

“What is most exciting is that we are transforming the CMDC into a dynamic hub where businesses experts, entrepreneurs, and budding entrepreneurs can interact and network. We are happy that through the CMDC Hub, we’re able to help startups and MSMEs overcome some of the financial challenges that they’re facing. Our goal is to help them improve their business proposition and strengthen their business resiliency. This will be particularly important in the coming months as we start moving towards normalization,” he said.

The hub aims to systematically rebuild 500 MSMEs and will function as an incubator among 400 startups across the country.

Bayan Academy chairman and president Eduardo Morato Jr. said social and market innovation has helped enterprises and entrepreneurs survive the pandemic.

“Social innovation means social engineering of your people, so that you could come up with a more productive, more efficient, more effective workforce. Many of the entrepreneurs, they were forced to cut down on their overhead. But they found out, that even when they cut down their production and productivity did not go down, which means that they were overstaffed before. They also found out that work from home was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing even for the entrepreneur who could be with his people, more often than not,” he said.

“Market innovation is about coming up with new products and services and I certainly saw that in many businesses. There was this restaurant and as she realized that people were coming to her restaurant not just because of the food that she had created but because of the sauce. And she’s now going into the sauce manufacturing because that was what was drawing in the customers,” he said.

Morato said some entrepreneurs saw the need to innovate and change their packaging, their look, their feel and even their product lines to survive. 

“So today, we are not as fearful I think when 2021 comes along when the vaccines come and all of that.  I think many of the MSMEs will be up and about. Less than 10 percent actually closed shop which is a very good sign for us. So either we’ve been mentoring them well or they’ve been managing themselves well or both. We’re very hopeful and confident that times will become better for them,” he said.

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