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US launches P1-B e-commerce project for SME digitalization

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On January 11, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched a five-year, one billion peso ($18 million) partnership with the Philippine government to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) transition to mature e-commerce businesses.

The Strengthening Private Enterprises for the Digital Economy (SPEED) project will expand the participation of Philippine SMEs in the country’s emerging e-commerce ecosystem by improving their capacity to adopt digital technologies; supporting the integration of SMEs and e-commerce platforms in logistical supply chains; increasing the use of e-payment systems and other fintech innovations; and strengthening consumer awareness and protection.

SPEED supports the U.S. government’s goal to help the Philippines develop a robust, secure, and resilient digital economy as a key to drive post-pandemic recovery and long-term economic growth for the country.

“As we all know, COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the way we do things, accelerating the shift toward e-commerce, digital platforms, and the digital economy of the post-pandemic world,” Ambassador Carlson said at the launching event attended by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla, and partners from government and the private sector.  “SPEED signals the U.S. government’s strong commitment to supporting the Philippine government’s vision of a digital Philippines.”

“Key in DTI’s support to scale MSMEs is to help them overcome constraints to their access to technology.  We aim to enable MSMEs to embrace digital transformation.  This way, I believe DTI and USAID’s directions to enhance SME capacities align,” DTI Secretary Pascual said. In his remarks, he also emphasized DTI’s support to the development of the government’s E-commerce Adoption Platform, and their planned Supply Chain Digitalization Project that aims to digitize logistics and supply chains around the country.

“The BSP is optimistic that the programs under SPEED will further support the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap objective to convert at least 50 percent of retail payment transactions to digital form by the end of 2023,” BSP Governor Medalla noted.  “Collaborations and partnerships such as this will contribute toward a more resilient and stronger Philippine economy that promotes a high quality of life for all Filipinos.”

During the event, private sector partners led by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry also launched the Philippine E-Commerce Alliance.  Established with the support of USAID, this private sector-led coalition will facilitate the development of a national business agenda for digital transformation and inclusion.

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