Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship, Human Resource Development Inc. ,and Citi Microenterprise Development Center launched the Creativity and Innovation Hub to provide training for MSMEs and help them adapt to the new normal.

Citi Microenterprise Development Center is funded by the Citi Foundation and it provides low-income microfinance clients the opportunity to receive quality training, customized coaching, and business advisory from a pool of subject matter experts (also including Citi employees.) The CMDC hub will particularly focus on supporting startups and MSMES.

Citi Philippines country head Aftab Ahmed spoke enthusiastically about the project, saying:

“The CMDC creativity and innovation hub could not have come at a better time. Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic pushed us to adapt and think of what we is needed to create growth and enable progress for our businesses and community."

“The pandemic has impacted all businesses from micro enterprises to large corporations. Income stream of MSMEs have been impacted due to the pandemic. As these businesses step up their business activity, they will need assistance to help them pursue growth opportunities and sustained business growth during the pandemic..."

“What is most exciting is that we are transforming the CMDC into a dynamic hub where businesses experts, entrepreneurs, and budding entrepreneurs can interact and network. We are happy that through the CMDC Hub, we’re able to help startups and MSMEs overcome some of the financial challenges that they’re facing. Our goal is to help them improve their business proposition and strengthen their business resiliency. This will be particularly important in the coming months as we start moving towards normalization."

The hub aims to rebuild 500 MSMEs and will likewise serve as an incubator among 400 startups in the country.

Bayan Academy chairman and president Eduardo Morato Jr. spoke about the importance of social and market innovation:

“Social innovation means social engineering of your people, so that you could come up with a more productive, more efficient, more effective workforce. Many of the entrepreneurs, they were forced to cut down on their overhead. But they found out, that even when they cut down their production and productivity did not go down, which means that they were overstaffed before. They also found out that work from home was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it was a good thing even for the entrepreneur who could be with his people, more often than not,” he said.

“Market innovation is about coming up with new products and services and I certainly saw that in many businesses. There was this restaurant and as she realized that people were coming to her restaurant not just because of the food that she had created but because of the sauce. And she’s now going into the sauce manufacturing because that was what was drawing in the customers."

He also spoke hopefully about the future and the MSMEs' ability to adapt to changing situations.

“So today, we are not as fearful I think when 2021 comes along when the vaccines come and all of that.  I think many of the MSMEs will be up and about. Less than 10 percent actually closed shop which is a very good sign for us. So either we’ve been mentoring them well or they’ve been managing themselves well or both. We’re very hopeful and confident that times will become better for them,” he said.