Globalization is absolutely a double-edged sword and Filipino small and medium enterprises must roll with the punches to face foreign competition especially when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration.
"With the ASEAN integration and rate of globalization, SMEs here in the Philippines should be prepared to face competition from other countries. Gone are the days where SMEs are just limited are just limited by local competition," said Armando Bartolome, president of GMB.
"It is a must for AFFI to double its efforts. Entry of foreign brands is definitely a threat and challenge," Bartolome added.
On the other hand, Bartolome said globalization can also provide greater opportunities for SMEs to tap potential markets overseas.
In response to the challenges of the economic union, Bartolome said AFFI has introduced various programs to help SMEs to be more productive and competitive.
The programs are open house, monthly forum, business networking, AFFI-organized shows, business clinics and online trainings.
Bartolome stressed that more and more SMEs are joining AFFI. "SMEs are definitely hungry in looking for an organization to spearhead and provide practical tools in growing and enhancing the businesses," said Bartolome.
Although the programs are in place, he said AFFI is facing challenges in monitoring the performance of the SMEs.
Bartolome noted AFFI wants to reach out to more SMEs that need their assistance."To be able to expand the coverage, we plan to establish an online training," he said.
He said there is a need to establish a business clinic to follow and assess the performance of the SMEs. "We want to make sure that they don't get stucked when SMEs are implementing the things they have learned from AFFI," Bartolome said.
He said AFFI also shares the experiences from its pool of 140 business owners. "Each company and individual has a different story to share its success and challenges as well.
In line of giving more support to entrepreneurs, AFFI will establish more programs and build awareness on its 2015 roadmap. AFFI opened its membership to entrepreneurs this year.
"We have intensified our partnership with other organizations such as Go Negosyo and explored new partnerships like NRCO to reach more entrepreneurs," said Bartolome.
Glenn Yu, CEO of SEAOIL, said entrepreneurs are agents of empowerment because they can create a difference to the lives of many people.
"Entrepreneurs are also able touch lives through the products and services that they are selling," said Glen Yu.
SEAOIL joined AFFI 2006. During that time, SEAOIL pushed vigorously to expand its retail network nationwide.
By joining AFFI, SEAOIL was able to expand its network. "We have met a number of our current franchise events organized by AFFI. Some co-members have also setup branches inside our stations, such as Julie's, Binalot, and Bibingkinitan," said Glenn Yu.
On the part of Mr. Jerry llao, president of Ink All You Can, he pointed out that AFFI has enabled the company to grow.
"These activities provide venues where members meet prospective business partners, and as members share their best practices among each other, each of us grows individually and become more capable in running our respective enterprises," he said.