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USAID launches five-year, $18-M project to boost SME digitalization

THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Wednesday that it launched a five-year project to raise the level of digitalization at Philippine small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

MaryKay L. Carlson, United States ambassador to the Philippines, said during the launch event in Makati City that the Strengthening Private Enterprise for the Digital Economy (SPEED) project, with a budget of $18 million, will help Philippine SMEs engage in e-commerce.

“This partnership with the Philippine government aims to enable SMEs to participate safely, reliably and competitively in the country’s emerging e-commerce ecosystem,” Ms. Carlson said.

“Under the project, USAID will continue to work with the Philippine government and private sector partners, including technology experts and innovators, to create an efficient and interoperable logistics and digital payments ecosystem and to assist in the establishment of domestic and cross-border trade processes to promote inclusive business development and increase SME participation in global value chains,” she added.

According to the USAID, the project will focus on improving the capacity and access of SMEs to e-commerce platforms; expand the use of e-payment systems and other financial technology programs; refine the integration of e-commerce platforms and logistical supply chains; and improve consumer awareness and protection.

Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in his speech that small businesses will benefit from digitalization as it would streamline their operations.

Digitalization will enable small firms to “operate more efficiently, reduce costs, reach bigger markets, and earn profits,” Mr. Pascual said.

“With Strengthening Private Enterprise for the Digital Economy, USAID can be DTI’s partner in empowering small and medium enterprises through digital transformation,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave 

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