Iligan Online Citizen Assembly
Strengthening Small Businesses
From September 16 to 30, the Iligan city government initiated an online conversation with its MSMEs, both registered and unregistered, asking them what support they need to survive, grow and contribute to economic recovery. Makati Business Club and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung supported the initiative by organizing a Citizen Assembly with the Iligan City. This is part of MBC and KAS’sDigital Democracy project.
Iligan Vice Mayor Vera Cruz shared, “We, in the local government, are trying our best to create the climate for people to be attracted to do business in Iligan City.” He explained that he will continue to listen to the citizens of Iligan, and will be working with the city government to craft ordinances to help people doing business in the city.
The opening event of the Iligan Citizen Assembly was held on September 16, 2021. Dr. Aristotle Alip from CARD MRI provided opening remarks at this event saying, “Listening to them [MSMEs] is crucial in order to understand their needs – to develop policies and programs that will address their needs”. Secretary Ramon M. Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry, stressed DTI’s commitment in “supporting the micro-SME sector, especially now that we still face challenges brought about by the pandemic.”
The online polling link was launched during the opening event, and participants all answered the survey together. The concerns of MSMEs in Iligan City, and the policies in place to support them were covered in a panel discussion with (i) Councillor Demosthenes Plando of Iligan City, (ii) Ruel Paclipan Provincial Director of DTI – Lanao del Norte Provincial Office and current OIC Assistant Regional Director of DTI Region 10 director, (iii) Ms. Jinnah Dorothy Jimenez, founder of ADROIT (Alliance of Dependable and Resourceful Outsourced Iligan Talents) and (iv) Ms. Alice Coronado, Department Head of the Cooperative Development & Livelihood Office, Iligan City.
After 2 weeks of voting, the Iligan Citizen Assembly Closing Event was held on September 30, 2021. The results of the two-week online voting were presented to the Iligan LGU and the public by Frei Sangil, CEO of Layertech. She began by highlighting the importance of Information and Education Campaigns (IEC) in communicating with constituents. She pointed out that before the opening event, there was a general sentiment from citizens that there were not enough government programs to support small businesses. This sentiment changed after the opening event where a discussion around government programs for MSMEs were held.
Frei explained that 3 opinion groups emerged among the respondents: Group A is largely composed of freelancers; Group B are generally owners of physical stores that have been in operation for a long time; while Group C are possibly small vendors or new businesses that are generally not registered businesses. All groups (i) felt COVID 19’s negative impact on their business, (ii) need marketing and financing support, (iii) use internet and social media in their business operations, (iv) take extra steps to be environmentally friendly, and (v) say there is not enough policy in Iligan to support freelancers. They also expressed that they need support in (i) Marketing (ii) Financing (iii) Regulatory Compliance (iv) Equipment and Technology (v) Digital Transformation and; particularly for Group A and C – (vi) Business Registration.
Mr. Steve Sy, MBC Member and CEO of Focus Global highlighted that Iligan City has a unique advantage of having Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology, which provides the city with a resource pool of talent. This, along with low cost of living, rent and land, and support of the city government, Mr. Sy says, “I don’t see why we cannot succeed in Iligan.”
During the citizen assembly closing event, participants joined breakout rooms where they discussed the survey results and provided recommendations for the government to support business such as:
- creating a PEZA Ecozone or IT park to create an enabling environment for BPO and IT companies,
- improving peace and order in Iligan and changing the perception of poor security in the city,
- supporting MSMEs through incentives; capacity building and training and; tax amnesties to businesses in need or below an income threshold,
- improving city hall operations by simplifying and digitizing processes for registration, permits, licenses and payments,
- improving dissemination of information of government services, processes, incentives to help MSMEs understand how to comply with and use government services.
- stronger cooperation and alignment between the national and local government.
- improving internet connectivity,
- balancing health and economy by removing the curfew and improving vaccine roll-out
- regular surveying of stakeholders to better craft needs-based policies through a consultative process.
Director Bien Ganapin of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) shared a message of support saying, “This event is a testament to the cooperation and open communication between the government and our private sector partners, as we move to restart the economy.”
During the discussion, Ms. Luz Galda of the Department of Trade Industry (DTI) shared that the DTI has a program called control.alt.biz that provides online webinars to entrepreneurs, to assist the micro small and medium enterprises on business continuity planning, costing and pricing, and also financing forum. The webinars can be found in the DTI Lanao Del Norte’s facebook page.
Watch the closing event here: https://youtu.be/MUUJjbt4AAo
Linked here are the various Iligan LGU Programs to Support MSMEs