APEC meeting pushes for business continuity planning to make small enterprises disaster-resilient

ILOILO CITY, Sept. 23 (PNA) — The Philippine government is pushing for business continuity planning to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) become more resilient against disasters and prevent economic losses.

A business continuity plan is a strategy on how a business can continue operating even after they are affected by disasters at different levels — from short-term effects to permanent loss of structures.

During the press briefing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) SME forum here, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said a business continuity plan “is all about resilience — how to prepare them (MSMEs) from any disaster that may hit them right now”.

The Philippine government, she added, is doing a lot of awareness campaigns, sessions, and seminars on the importance of business continuity planning because “this is where we identify exactly what are the problems that can hit a country or an economy when a disaster hits (and) how to simulate what you have to prepare for.”

The trade official also highlighted the importance of working with the private sector, particularly the bigger companies, to prepare MSMEs against the effects of disasters in the country.

As the government builds an awareness campaign for business continuity planning, bigger companies are also encouraged “to do the same”, Maglaya said.

“We are talking of a parallel move of our government helping our SMEs and the bigger companies to also work with the suppliers and make them more disaster-resilient, and making sure they are also prepared,” she added.

Maglaya suggested that bigger companies with suppliers coming from the MSME industry must begin identifying their suppliers and their capacities to endure the economic impact of disasters.

Being resilient is more than just building structures and factories to be disaster-prone, the undersecretary said.

Rather, “it is also more (about) identifying who your suppliers are. Can they easily be hit? Do you know where your workers are, where they live? If something happens, do you get your workers back to really continue operations?” she added.

These requirements and needs by the MSMEs to become more resilient have to be addressed, she said, “because at the end of the day, we are talking of the continued flow of goods (and) minimizing the effect or any obstacles in the supply chain.”

Some 65 percent of the Philippines’ labor force consists of MSMEs.

When super typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) hit the Visayas region in 2013, it was the MSME industry that experienced massive economic losses. Most of them were unable to immediately continue operations.

The APEC meetings in Iloilo, happening from September 21 to October 6, are focused on policies for MSMEs, food security, and disaster risk reduction and management.

About 500 participants from the government and private sectors attended the MSME Summit to discuss topics on technology, markets, finance, and services of government.

According to Maglaya, these are four important areas where MSMEs need support to enable them to be part of the global value chain.

“Being a concern and being the theme of APEC on one thing—that our SMEs to be part of the global value chain, there is a need to identify what are the obstacles and possible hindrances to enable them to reach out to more markets, (to) make it easy for them to facilitate trade, and to see whether there are good financing opportunities for them,” she said. (PNA)