Call for Disaster Champions at the National Summit on Strengthening MSME Resilience

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Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) must strengthen their resilience against disasters. This was the current theme of the 2019 National Summit on Strengthening MSME Disaster Resilience held at the Heritage Hotel Manila, Pasay City in Metro Manila, Philippines on July 18, 2019. 

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Based on data published by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), MSMEs comprise 99.56% of all business enterprises and contribute 62.85% of the total jobs in the country. Ensuring that MSMEs are disaster resilient does not only promote local economic growth, but also guarantees continuity in the provision of goods and services that local communities need. It was noted that MSMEs are vial in national economic development. Catastrophic events pose great challenge to the sector and can reverse the gains achieved from development initiatives. 

While large businesses typically have contingency plans in place, MSMEs do not. The Summit provided a venue for the soft launch of the MSME Guidebook on Disaster Resilience, which aspires to guide the business sector in preparing for and recovering from catastrophic events. The search for MSME Disaster Resilience Champions was also launched during the Summit. It aims to boost the participation of MSMEs in national resilience, as well as to increase awareness and encourage support from local stakeholders. Among the speakers were Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and Mr. Rene Meily of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF). Mr. Edwin Salonga, ADPC’s Program Manager for the Philippines, was among the panelists at the Summit.

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Mr. Rene Meily, President of PDRF, stress the need for further collaboration between government, private sector, and other key DRR stakeholders in strengthening resilience of MSMEs, especially those embedded in local communities. 

Undersecretary Jalad stressed the importance of integrating disaster risk reduction (DRR) in businesses so as to achieve zero casualty and to minimize economic impact to localities. He challenged the participants to become resilience champions in their respective communities.

In addition to participation of micro, small, and medium enterprise (MSME) clients and partners of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), national and regional offices of member-agencies of the MSME Resilience Core Group (RCG), private sector and local chambers of commerce and industry, development partners and humanitarian stakeholders attended the day long summit.

USEC. Zenaida Maglaya of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) challenged the participants to continue efforts in strengthening the resilience against disasters of MSMEs, which comprise more than 99% of all registered businesses in the country. USEC. Renato Solidum of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) emphasized the change in mindset from victims to victors. There is a need to help one another in strengthening resilience against disasters.

The summit also reaffirmed public-private partnership modality for the project on Strengthening MSME Disaster Resilience in the Philippines. Among the signatories were OCD and PDRF of PHILPREP, together with ADPC. Members of the MSME RCG signed the extension of the Memorandum of Agreement for another three years until 2021. The event was organized by the MSME Resilience Core Group (RCG) and the Philippine Preparedness Partnership (PHILPREP), established through the Asian Preparedness Partnership (APP).