The captains of three of the country’s biggest business groups—Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala of Ayala Corporation, Teresita Sy-Coson of SM Investments Corporation, Enrique Razon of International Container Terminal Services, Inc., — together with Tony Fernandes of AirAsia, jointly said at the CEO panel of Go Negosyo’s 15th anniversary conference that large corporations should serve as “big brothers” to MSMEs that are struggling to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a DTI report, SMEs and microbusinesses cover 60% of the total annual revenues of all Philippine businesses, contribute 35% of the country’s GDP, and employ 63% of working Filipinos. Globally, these smaller businesses comprise 70% of employment and around half of the world’s GDP.
With over 250,000 small businesses within its ecosystem, the Ayala Group of Companies immediately rolled out various programs at the onset of the pandemic to address the different pain points faced by its MSME–partners. The Ayala group also partnered with the government and other like-minded business groups to address the needs of the broader community. The group worked with both the public and the private sectors to boost the country’s testing capacity through Project ARK and T3. It convened the private sector under Project Ugnayan and raised, in a matter of days, over P1.7 billion in donation to give grocery vouchers to over 1.5 million families in the poorest communities of Greater Manila Area.
“This is the moment where we all should be holding hands and riding this together,” Zobel said. “I think what this crisis has shown is that we’re all part of a system that is much more integrated than ever before. This is a time when cooperation is far more important than anything else.”
“Big brother” to MSMEs
At the onset of the pandemic, Ayala Malls was quick to implement rent condonation among its tenants, including MSMEs. BPI was also among the first banks to offer payment extension on consumer and SME loans, consistent with the government’s Bayanihan 1 and 2. According to Zobel, the private sector has been using their own balance sheets to ride out the challenges brought by the pandemic, protect its employees, help small businesses within their ecosystems, and preserve jobs which is key to reviving the economy.
Ayala launched the membership of the Ayala Enterprise Circle (AEC), Ayala’s groupwide effort to cultivate a more synergistic relationship with its 250,000 SME community.
The keynote speaker of the launch, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, recognized the Ayala group for its extensive efforts to support MSMEs. “The Department of Trade and Industry fully supports the Ayala Enterprise Circle initiative to upskill, connect, and enable the growth of your SME partners during this period. As we adjust to the ‘New Normal’, let us instead create a ‘Better Normal’ for our countrymen. We hope that you, our private sector partners, will continue working with us in a whole of nation effort to bring back a better Philippines for a brighter tomorrow,” he said.
So far, AEC has held five online sessions and is offering various exclusive products and services to address the main concerns of its SME partners, including the health and safety of their employees, financing, and business transformation.
“There are tough times ahead of us and the ingenuity and resilience of our entrepreneurs and SMEs are needed now more than ever. We, at the Ayala Enterprise Circle, believe that this year’s challenges also provide an opportunity for businesses to adapt, transform and prepare for what lies ahead. The AEC’s mission is to support and empower the Ayala small and medium entrepreneur through uplifting, forging connections, and enabling them to grow their businesses and lead markets,” said John Philip S. Orbeta, Ayala Corporation’s Chief Human Resource Officer and Group Head of Corporate Resources, who heads the AEC.
Any DTI- or SEC-registered entity who is an existing business customer of an Ayala company, subsidiary, or affiliate, can apply for AEC membership at http://www.ayalaenterprisecircle.com.
“This is the moment where we all should be holding hands and riding this together. I think what this crisis has shown is that we’re all part of a system that is much more integrated than ever before. This is a time when cooperation is far more important than anything else,” said Ayala Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala at Go Negosyo’s anniversary conference held virtually Monday, November 23, 2020. Mr. Zobel was one of the CEO panelists
together with Teresita Sy-Coson of SM Investments Corporation, Enrique Razon of International Container Terminal Services, Inc., and Tony Fernandes of AirAsia.