A purchase may seem trivial, but the collective effort to patronize local products spurs patriotism and love of country. Fortunately, some Filipino MSME owners are seeing an optimistic trend, with more local consumers looking to buy their products. Majority of local MSMEs in the country are also social enterprises—all aimed at helping communities and underserved groups by providing livelihood opportunities—which makes them attractive to buyers, not just locally but internationally—on top of high-quality products and services.
Robert Jay Balbin, the founder of Balbin’s Furniture from Bangued, Abra that make speakers from bamboo, shared that there is an increase in the demand for local products, particularly those anchored on sustainability, are embraced by the Philippine market.
This is echoed by Angel M. Tolentino, the marketing and distribution head of Care Channels. “Interestingly, we see consumers who intentionally patronize products that are locally produced yet world-class in quality and whose raw materials are likewise locally sourced,” Tolentino said.
Responding to the unforeseen challenges brought by the pandemic needs collaboration between the civil society, the private sector, and the government. For its part, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), boosted its efforts to facilitate and strengthen the support for local MSMEs,
The DTI launched the Buy Local, Go Lokal campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic through its retail store partners, constant presence and promotions on social media platforms, and a series of virtual trade events. More local MSMEs found an avenue to sell their products in the midst of limited economic movement and consumers gained easier access to local goods.
The Buy Local, Go Lokal initiative of the DTI succeeds in the form of the Go, Lokal! program, which aims to bridge more local products to the mainstream market. It has grown significantly since its first major retail store partnership with Enchanted Kingdom in 2016; expanding its partnerships with many retail stores all over the country. These institutional partners agreed to facilitate the trade of other of other MSMEs—Akaba Lifestyle stores, Ayala Malls, Citymall Commercial Centers, Duty Free Philippines, Enchanted Kingdom, Festival Mall, Robinsons Mall, Robinsons Supercenters, Shopwise, SM Kultura, and Waltermart Community Malls—without fees.
The DTI also has its own Go Lokal Concept Store located at the DTI Main Office in Makati, a brick-and-mortar store that serves as a market testing facility, a sourcing hub for the program’s partner retailers and a retail store for walk-in customers.
The DTI has been pursuing alternative market platforms for MSMEs since the pandemic. There are different online marketplaces providing fully functional digital services for Go Lokal MSMEs such as LazMall, Shopee Mall, Shopinas, and UnionBank’sGlobalLinker.
To date, the products of 275 Go Lokal!manufacturers are available in various retail outlets nationwide, both physical and online.
Making products accessible and appealing play a huge role as it gives the consumers the power to easily choose local goods. In this information age, making the effort to know locally produced goods and how other consumers who have purchased view these products are a few taps or clicks away.
There are endless possibilities and opportunities left to unravel for local MSMEs as their existence is a proof of how resourceful and creative Filipinos are. As consumers, it ‘s our responsibility to encourage the MSMEs to keep going and prove that there’s more to the words “support local” than being a catchphrase and hashtag on social media.