Remarks by Gloria Steele, Mission Director, Signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between USAID and FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Inc.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

[As Prepared]

Acknowledgements: Diwa Guinigundo, Deputy Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Jaime Garchitorena, President, Credit Information Corporation, Benel Lagua, Executive Vice President—Chief Development Officer, Development Bank of the Philippines, Victor A. Limlingan Jr., Co-Chief Executive Officer, Tresdaq Network Services, Rey Lugtu, Globe IG Vice President, Mitch Gomez and Roberto Borromeo, Chairman and President respectively, of FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Ed Soriano and Vic dela Dingco, President and Vice President of FINEX, respectively, Johnny Sy, Chairman Access To Education, FFEI, Moderator

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!

I am happy to join you this morning on behalf of the U.S. Government to launch our partnership with the FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurship (FFEI) to promote financial literacy and advance financial inclusion for small and medium enterprises.

USAID is pleased to co-sponsor this forum while we celebrate National SME Week. As the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development Plan for 2011-2016 cited, MSMEs account for 99.6 percent of total establishments, 61.2 percent of the country’s total employment and 35.7 percent of the total value added in the Philippine economy.

SMEs ignite and sustain inclusive economic growth in the Philippines. They contribute to the generation of wealth, business opportunities and employment in rural and urban areas. This vital economic sector also contributes to a dynamic supply of ideas, skills and the innovation needed to propel the country’s development.

But despite their significant contributions, a variety of factors prevent SMEs in key sectors from expanding their enterprises and becoming more competitive—one of which is their inability to access formal financing. And for growth to be truly inclusive, everyone - especially the so-called “missing middle” - should have the opportunity to access financial services. It is crucial for us to fill in this gap and create a nurturing environment for SMEs to grow and sustain their business. A flourishing private sector will ultimately translate to increased income and more livelihood opportunities for all Filipinos.

The U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development through its Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) Project, provides effective, targeted assistance to improve SMEs’ access to financial opportunities.

For instance, through COMPETE, USAID has trained more than 100 individuals in key localities throughout the Philippines to provide hands-on assistance to budding entrepreneurs as they develop their business and financial plans. In addition, the project is assisting the Credit Information Corporation to optimize their national credit registry system, providing SMEs access to more credit opportunities and reducing loan processing costs, thus reducing borrowers’ costs as well.

By equipping SMEs with powerful start-up tools and connecting them to resources they were previously unable to access, USAID aims to help the Philippines foster a robust, competitive economic ecosystem, leveling the playing field so that more people may enter and participate in the business sector. These small actions, repeated many times over throughout the country will create more jobs and boost local economies.

Through this new partnership with FFEI, we hope to leverage the impact of our activities to greatly enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in key sectors of our economy.

The United States Government remains a committed partner to helping the Philippines support the development of the nation’s SMEs. Under the U.S. - Philippines Partnership for Growth, we will continue working to achieve broad-based, inclusive growth for all Filipinos.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing about the successes that will surely follow from today’s event.

Issuing Country