‘Need enabling environment where SMEs can thrive and grow’

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Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV

Investvine’s Imran Saddique caught up with Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV, a former youth leader and world-renowned social entrepreneur and youngest senator in the 16th Congress. He currently chairs the Senate Committees on Youth, and Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. In his first year, he authored the Go Negosyo Act and sponsored the Philippine Lemon Law. Both were enacted into law in 2014.

You recently mentioned crowdfunding as an alternative source for SMEs to get funding. Do you think there is an appetite for this in the local market?

With the proper communication and infrastructure in place, I think Filipinos are willing to support start-ups and small enterprises given that they will be assured where their money will go. There have been crowdfunding sites that have been set up by Filipinos, and a little push would help them grow and expand as more Filipinos are supporting entrepreneurial projects and causes.

In terms of basic connectivity to the Internet and pricing, the Philippines is behind most countries in terms of cost and connectivity, even within the ASEAN region. What are you doing to change this and the monopolisation by the telecom providers? And when will the local population see the benefits?

It is unacceptable that we have one of the most expensive, slowest and most inaccessible Internet connections in the ASEAN, and we’ve been conducting hearings on it for nine months already. We’ve been in constant consultation with the Internet stakeholders and trying to find solutions on the matter.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memorandum order on truth in advertising so that consumers will get the right minimum speed that they are paying for. We are waiting for the memorandum of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on the quality of Internet connection in the country. NTC has also committed to create a one-stop shop to assist telecoms in getting the permits for building more infrastructure.

We’re also exploring how to expand what the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been doing using whitespace technology to reach more far-flung areas in the country. Two bills I filed – the Online Network Establishment Policy for the Philippines (One Philippines) and SBN 1091 Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom – propose the establishment of ICT Hubs in key cities and greater internet access in public areas.

With these two bills, and our continuing work to improve interconnectivity and more players in our telecom industry, we hope to see improvements soon. We’ve also been working to pass the Fair Competition Act and where it will open markets, so that new players will be able to come in, compete and improve the quality of service and drive prices down.

Please tell us further about the Negosyo Bill and what direct impact/results you hope to achieve including your targets.

The Go Negosyo Act, my first bill, which was enacted into law last July 2014, aims to spur the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. As 92 per cent of our businesses here in the country are MSMEs, it is crucial that we are able to provide an enabling environment where they can thrive and grow.

The Act mandates that a Negosyo Center will be established in every municipality, city and province. It will serve as a center where entrepreneurs can access financial services and loans, training and mentoring, assistance in product development, business registration, and linkage to markets. These centers will hopefully aid in the ease of doing business in our localities and in the country. We are establishing 100 centers all over the country this year, with plans to establish more in the years to come.

The City Innovate Summit to be hosted in San Francisco this June will bring together cities worldwide to discuss innovation and learn what others have done and find ways to move forward into becoming smarter cities. Where do you see improvements for cities in the Philippines? Where have you seen improvements?

We have seen vast improvement in disaster preparedness after the onslaught of supertyphoons in the country. Many groups have worked with communities to educate them on the proper protocol in times of calamity. There is also innovation with the use of technology by LGUs and other government agencies like in the case of the MMDA App and privately developed Waze. We have seen that people are generally open to using technology, specially when it comes to easing their commute.

We have a real need to travel from one point to another. It is essential that we develop adequate modes of transportation for the public. Regarding basic utilities like water and electricity, we can still improve on getting these to homes and offices more efficiently and in improving prices and quality.

There is also the opportunity to create green, open spaces. I believe some of our cities are already working to create more public parks. There are also groups pushing for urban planting and agriculture. There is an opportunity to grow crops within urban areas and there are a number of reasons this would benefit communities.

To build smart cities, we need to constantly improve access to technology and information. A city filled with intelligent, well-informed citizens are bound to innovate and become smart cities of the future. Most importantly, safety and security must be a priority.

Transportation is a major area that requires an overhaul in infrastructure and its planning. What are your thoughts on the best way to tackle this? Are you looking at other models of retrofitting?

To tackle this issue, our country needs a transportation masterplan that goes beyond one administration. I recently authored a Senate Resolution to discuss the plans of the government to address the issues of our transportation system. Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Limcauco, in our last hearing, discussed the comprehensive plans of the agency to overhaul our transport system in Metro Manila and other areas in the country.

They have shown a detailed plan of improving our railway and bus system coupled with various infrastructure projects to de-congest the roads in Metro Manila and its nearby areas. According to our hearing, the transportation plan was patterned after various Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, but the agencies involved nuanced it to fit the current projects and infrastructure of the country.

But more than the plan, we have to be have a watchful eye when it comes to implementation. One of the roots of many issues with our current public transport systems is corruption in its administration. And one of the ways we can address this is to be vigilant.

Kailangan tutukan natin ito. In this regard, we need the help of the public.

selfiewithstudentsfront1
Selfie with students

What role does culture, design and education play in the development of the Philippines?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to development. Social change must be rooted in the culture. One must take into account the history and culture when devising a plan for inclusive development. Interestingly enough, in order for social change, and possibly even economic change, to be sustained, it must be integrated or ingrained into the culture of the people.

This is where education can come in. Culture is dictated by the majority and the most effective way of influencing a population is through education – whether through schools, the media, or even the World Wide Web.

In the Senate, I’ve proposed the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill to include financial literacy and entrepreneurship subjects and competencies in basic and secondary education curricula in the hopes of building a culture of entrepreneurship and financial prudence.

We’ve tried many approaches, solutions to address challenges to development in our country. What we need to do now is to really make use of “experience design” to come up with a feasible and successful development strategy for the Philippines.

We need social innovations that are designed to address the challenges that face a growing number of people given our country’s particular culture and context.

Lately, Quezon City has had many innovation programmes, hackathons and startup competitions, but there are only a few real outcomes in terms of products so far – what are your thoughts on this?

We need sustained support programmes, incentives and investments from both the public (in an entrepreneurial state) and the private sector so that all these startups have a chance of succeeding.

These interventions need to be consolidated and identified so that that there will be access to assistance in the whole enterpreneurial process – from product and development, market linkage, access to capital and entry to the formal economy and expansion.

How will the Philippines take advantage of the use of Big Data and will we see steps to really opening up data?

As envisioned in my Big Data bill, the Philippines will use Big Data as an alternative source of information that will allow us to develop timely and appropriate policy decisions on a wide range of issues – disaster risk, health, poverty, etc. Under the current administration, our government has already made a commitment to open data and is one of the eight founding states of the Open Government Partnership. By making national government data more accessible, we hope to improve transparency and greater accountability in governance.

For more information on his legislative work and advocacy, visit www.bamaquino.com.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV

Investvine’s Imran Saddique caught up with Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV, a former youth leader and world-renowned social entrepreneur and youngest senator in the 16th Congress. He currently chairs the Senate Committees on Youth, and Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. In his first year, he authored the Go Negosyo Act and sponsored the Philippine Lemon Law. Both were enacted into law in 2014.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

SBAProfilePic
Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV

Investvine’s Imran Saddique caught up with Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” A. Aquino IV, a former youth leader and world-renowned social entrepreneur and youngest senator in the 16th Congress. He currently chairs the Senate Committees on Youth, and Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship. In his first year, he authored the Go Negosyo Act and sponsored the Philippine Lemon Law. Both were enacted into law in 2014.

You recently mentioned crowdfunding as an alternative source for SMEs to get funding. Do you think there is an appetite for this in the local market?

With the proper communication and infrastructure in place, I think Filipinos are willing to support start-ups and small enterprises given that they will be assured where their money will go. There have been crowdfunding sites that have been set up by Filipinos, and a little push would help them grow and expand as more Filipinos are supporting entrepreneurial projects and causes.

In terms of basic connectivity to the Internet and pricing, the Philippines is behind most countries in terms of cost and connectivity, even within the ASEAN region. What are you doing to change this and the monopolisation by the telecom providers? And when will the local population see the benefits?

It is unacceptable that we have one of the most expensive, slowest and most inaccessible Internet connections in the ASEAN, and we’ve been conducting hearings on it for nine months already. We’ve been in constant consultation with the Internet stakeholders and trying to find solutions on the matter.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a memorandum order on truth in advertising so that consumers will get the right minimum speed that they are paying for. We are waiting for the memorandum of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on the quality of Internet connection in the country. NTC has also committed to create a one-stop shop to assist telecoms in getting the permits for building more infrastructure.

We’re also exploring how to expand what the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has been doing using whitespace technology to reach more far-flung areas in the country. Two bills I filed – the Online Network Establishment Policy for the Philippines (One Philippines) and SBN 1091 Magna Carta for Philippine Internet Freedom – propose the establishment of ICT Hubs in key cities and greater internet access in public areas.

With these two bills, and our continuing work to improve interconnectivity and more players in our telecom industry, we hope to see improvements soon. We’ve also been working to pass the Fair Competition Act and where it will open markets, so that new players will be able to come in, compete and improve the quality of service and drive prices down.

Please tell us further about the Negosyo Bill and what direct impact/results you hope to achieve including your targets.

The Go Negosyo Act, my first bill, which was enacted into law last July 2014, aims to spur the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. As 92 per cent of our businesses here in the country are MSMEs, it is crucial that we are able to provide an enabling environment where they can thrive and grow.

The Act mandates that a Negosyo Center will be established in every municipality, city and province. It will serve as a center where entrepreneurs can access financial services and loans, training and mentoring, assistance in product development, business registration, and linkage to markets. These centers will hopefully aid in the ease of doing business in our localities and in the country. We are establishing 100 centers all over the country this year, with plans to establish more in the years to come.

The City Innovate Summit to be hosted in San Francisco this June will bring together cities worldwide to discuss innovation and learn what others have done and find ways to move forward into becoming smarter cities. Where do you see improvements for cities in the Philippines? Where have you seen improvements?

We have seen vast improvement in disaster preparedness after the onslaught of supertyphoons in the country. Many groups have worked with communities to educate them on the proper protocol in times of calamity. There is also innovation with the use of technology by LGUs and other government agencies like in the case of the MMDA App and privately developed Waze. We have seen that people are generally open to using technology, specially when it comes to easing their commute.

We have a real need to travel from one point to another. It is essential that we develop adequate modes of transportation for the public. Regarding basic utilities like water and electricity, we can still improve on getting these to homes and offices more efficiently and in improving prices and quality.

There is also the opportunity to create green, open spaces. I believe some of our cities are already working to create more public parks. There are also groups pushing for urban planting and agriculture. There is an opportunity to grow crops within urban areas and there are a number of reasons this would benefit communities.

To build smart cities, we need to constantly improve access to technology and information. A city filled with intelligent, well-informed citizens are bound to innovate and become smart cities of the future. Most importantly, safety and security must be a priority.

Transportation is a major area that requires an overhaul in infrastructure and its planning. What are your thoughts on the best way to tackle this? Are you looking at other models of retrofitting?

To tackle this issue, our country needs a transportation masterplan that goes beyond one administration. I recently authored a Senate Resolution to discuss the plans of the government to address the issues of our transportation system. Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Undersecretary Limcauco, in our last hearing, discussed the comprehensive plans of the agency to overhaul our transport system in Metro Manila and other areas in the country.

They have shown a detailed plan of improving our railway and bus system coupled with various infrastructure projects to de-congest the roads in Metro Manila and its nearby areas. According to our hearing, the transportation plan was patterned after various Asian countries like South Korea and Japan, but the agencies involved nuanced it to fit the current projects and infrastructure of the country.

But more than the plan, we have to be have a watchful eye when it comes to implementation. One of the roots of many issues with our current public transport systems is corruption in its administration. And one of the ways we can address this is to be vigilant.

Kailangan tutukan natin ito. In this regard, we need the help of the public.

selfiewithstudentsfront1
Selfie with students

What role does culture, design and education play in the development of the Philippines?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to development. Social change must be rooted in the culture. One must take into account the history and culture when devising a plan for inclusive development. Interestingly enough, in order for social change, and possibly even economic change, to be sustained, it must be integrated or ingrained into the culture of the people.

This is where education can come in. Culture is dictated by the majority and the most effective way of influencing a population is through education – whether through schools, the media, or even the World Wide Web.

In the Senate, I’ve proposed the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill to include financial literacy and entrepreneurship subjects and competencies in basic and secondary education curricula in the hopes of building a culture of entrepreneurship and financial prudence.

We’ve tried many approaches, solutions to address challenges to development in our country. What we need to do now is to really make use of “experience design” to come up with a feasible and successful development strategy for the Philippines.

We need social innovations that are designed to address the challenges that face a growing number of people given our country’s particular culture and context.

Lately, Quezon City has had many innovation programmes, hackathons and startup competitions, but there are only a few real outcomes in terms of products so far – what are your thoughts on this?

We need sustained support programmes, incentives and investments from both the public (in an entrepreneurial state) and the private sector so that all these startups have a chance of succeeding.

These interventions need to be consolidated and identified so that that there will be access to assistance in the whole enterpreneurial process – from product and development, market linkage, access to capital and entry to the formal economy and expansion.

How will the Philippines take advantage of the use of Big Data and will we see steps to really opening up data?

As envisioned in my Big Data bill, the Philippines will use Big Data as an alternative source of information that will allow us to develop timely and appropriate policy decisions on a wide range of issues – disaster risk, health, poverty, etc. Under the current administration, our government has already made a commitment to open data and is one of the eight founding states of the Open Government Partnership. By making national government data more accessible, we hope to improve transparency and greater accountability in governance.

For more information on his legislative work and advocacy, visit www.bamaquino.com.

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