Hurray for the Go Negosyo Bill: Nurturing Small Businesses

Consider this: Mang Tonio, smart person that he is, comes home to the Philippines with enough funds that would tie him over for the next five years (even if he does not take on another job) and allow him to set up and invest in his dream business.

So, he sets up his sole proprietorship business, as web developer catering to small retail owners. He puts in a decent capital—P200,000—and decides to not hire for now, at least until his business becomes self sustaining.

I bet my pinky that you too might have a similar plan—which entails scrimping on money while setting up the business—for yourself.

Am I right or am I right?

My friend, although your expertise might be one that can only be acquired by going to school for four years (IT anyone?), or that you were proudly a corporate executive prior to deciding to turn business owner, the fact is that what you have there—that business you registered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—is classified as a micro business, the same category that a small junk shop or a neighborhood sari sari store belongs to.

Don’t get me wrong: There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a micro business. In fact,  90.6 percent of all businesses in the Philippines fall under this category. Every entrepreneur has to start somewhere. It just so happened that most do not have enough capital to be in the league of medium or large firms. At least in the beginning.

Which is the reason I am excited about Senator Bam Aquino’s Senate Bill 4026, or the Go Negosyo Bill.

Young Senator Aquino’s bill will give the existing laws that aim to help micro, small and medium firms another upgrade. Good news is that it has already been passed on third reading. With tougher global competition staring us in the eye, this bill is expected to help answer the country’s nagging issue with unemployment.

I’m not going to bore you here by discussing the details of the bill, and how it is going to give the existing laws—the first being the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act in 2002 and latest amended (2008) Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises the needed errr…facelift.

I believe the part that should get you equally excited about is the fact that the bill aims to make the process of registering your business in the Philippines a whole lot easier (Read about how the Philippines currently fared in terms of starting a business. Suffice to say, much has to be desired still).

This is how the bill is supposed to help would-be business owners:

  1. The bill supports micro (those with assets of less than P3 million), small (P3 million – P15 million), and medium (up to P100 million) firms.
  2. Central in the bill is the plan to extend the negosyo centers beyond the provincial level by bringing it down to the city and municipal levels (Read: Coming to your nearest municipality soon!).
  3. These centers, currently manned by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), will facilitate processing, provide training and mentoring as well as link the businesses to financial sources.
  4. Because of #3 above, startups are better nurtured such that they grow rather and not exit their industry prematurely.

If 99 percent of our businesses are either micro, small or medium (which means only 1% are large companies), you can figure out how growing these businesses can improve the country’s employment picture.

And why should local government units treat this seriously? Well, ever noticed how Metro Manila local leaders are scurrying to drive companies to their cities? More viable businesses in the city (or municipality) would mean more money to that city/municipality—eventually.

And here’s the good news: The bill is now only awaiting President’s Aquino’s approval before it can be passed into a law. As they say in Tagalog, “konting tulog na lang.

Fingers crossed.

Update: The Go Negosyo Bill was finally signed into law by President Ninoy Aquino on July 15, 2014.

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