BULACAN:  THE  SME  CAPITAL  OF  RP

MANILA, September 23, 2005
 (STAR) Asking a "probinsyano" micro-entrepreneur to adopt a professional business approach may very well be an uphill climb.

But Bulacan Gov. Josie de la Cruz has always believed that it could be done.

First, inspire them to earn their sense of pride. The Tatak Bulakenyo seal takes care of that.

Launched in 2003, Tatak Bulakenyo is an effort to generate market opportunities and livelihood for the province’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by enhancing the quality of local products.

Authentic Bulacan products with the special Tatak Bulakenyo seal is an imprimatur given to products that are ready for both the local and international markets.

Initially, seven priority products had been identified for product development under the Tatak Bulakenyo seal – pastillas de leche, minasa, inipit, ensaymada, longganisang Calumpit, tinapang bangus and kapeng Tagalog.

"These products have crossed the threshold of the nationwide market and can now enter the world market," Gov. Josie de la Cruz confidently said. "There is a demand for them as the country’s major exports are now processed foods, " she added.

But it was a long, steady rally towards today’s export-quality Tatak Bulakenyo products. Measures had to be taken to revolutionize Bulacan’s local MSMEs and their products.

"We wanted our entrepreneurs to adopt a professional approach," said De la Cruz. To achieve this, the province has maximized its resources through the Provincial Cooperative and Economic Development Office (PCEDO), and the expertise of different partner agencies.

PCEDO has initiated a livelihood program, Kasulong sa Kabuhayan, which has granted some P5.8 million in loans to 78 MSMEs and 34 potential entrepreneurs.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provides assistance to MSMEs in the form of marketing, product development, financial brokering, technology upgrading, institutional development, human relations development, and database buildup.

The Bureau of Food and Drug (BFAD) assists entrepreneurs in product licensing, while the DOST provides product analysis services and packaging development.

The Bulacan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) also assists member entrepreneurs in business development and promotions, inter-agency coordination, businessmen education and membership development, as well as consultancy services.

With the help of the partner agencies, the produce of local entrepreneurs enrolled in the Product Development Program now benefit with a greater public appeal and a longer shelf life due to higher quality control standards and cutting edge packaging design. PCEDO also boosts the products’ marketability through promotions and trade fairs.

Steady Progress

Today, Bulacan has the highest number of industry associations in the region. It boasts of 34,933 business name registrations, comprising a 30.37 percent share in the region. MSMEs generate P29 billion annually, contributing 11.86 percent to the region’s gross income. Bulacan’s MSMEs have also provided a total number of 190,156 jobs for its locals (Bulacan PCEDO).

Also in the pipeline is the multi-million, 560 sq.m. Bulacan Packaging Service and Toll Packing Center (BPSTPC), under construction at the former Ecology Center site in Malolos.

"The packaging center is really a milestone for our product development endeavors under the Tatak Bulakenyo label, "De la Cruz disclosed. "It will complement our livelihood programs for the Bulakeños, and in the long run, it is expected to increase income generation among the micro, small and medium enterprises."

The BPSTPC will initially be operated by the provincial government, BCCI and the Bulacan State University, Packaging technology, technical support and supervision will be provided by the Packaging Research and Development Center (PRDC) and DOST Region III.

The packaging center was conceptualized through the support of the private sector headed by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries Vice President Dr. Raul Hernandez, former president of the World Packaging Corp.

The BPSTPC will be a venue for DOST-sponsored training seminars for packaging. It will also supply packaging materials and provide services such as label design, toll packaging for tropical fruit, juice/water in stand-up pouch and bottles, vacuum packaging, and single-serve pouch packaging. All materials and services will be charged at a "social cost" for Bulacan MSMEs. The BPSTPC will also be open to entrepreneurs from nearby provinces after operations transcend the transition period.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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