Mindanao’s business community pivots to the future



About 400 business delegates from all over Mindanao converged in Pagadian City last Aug. 23 to 25 for the annual Mindanao Business Conference (MINBIZCON) to collaborate toward further boosting business and economic growth in the island’s almost ₱2 trillion economy, now the Philippines’ second largest.

The delegates were warmly welcomed by local residents and their leaders in the event which also featured a trade fair with various local products and visits to local tourist spots.

This 32nd edition of the MINBIZON is organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and hosted by the Pagadian ZDS Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation. It is a watershed moment for the island's diverse business community because it comes at a time when the lessons of the pandemic on the economy and the businesses that compose it are being applied, and the results are being evaluated in light of the present and new challenges heading into the future. It is a time to think, assess, and strategize. The event helped many of us do just that.

In particular, the conference went beyond discussing and responding to government programs but looked at ways to harness these initiatives to pivot to a future where there are new challenges to face. Facing these challenges will drive the economic growth momentum moving forward.

The conference theme is novel, as it seeks to create a borderless business environment on the island, a bold statement showing a unified Mindanao business sector ready for the future.

Specifically, the topics focused on how current business sectors such as energy, agriculture, tourism, and ICT can grow with government policies and programs and how the business community can maximize these by innovating beyond these measures. Inspiring businesses in these sectors that are able to innovate were showcased in the sessions to illuminate the discussions further. They included ICT and energy companies and a startup on farming for children.

Among the 21 resolutions adopted by the conference include those calling for measures to enhance the business environment, agriculture, transportation, improved food logistics, infrastructure, and electricity.

Other resolutions include the call for more local health facilities, programs to sustain peace, order, and security, and the use of Mindanao’s natural resources. Others sought support for start-ups, fostering research and development, and Halal Certification.

The resolutions were presented by Mindanao’s PCCI area vice president Art Milan and the various PCCI regional governors to incoming Philippine Business Conference chairperson and world-renowned Architect Felino Palafox Jr.

These resolutions are perhaps the most comprehensive in the history of the event, reflecting intensified interest in the Mindanao economy and the desire of its stakeholders to see it thrive further. These envision the Mindanao economy playing a key role in achieving the national goal of upper-middle-income status by 2040 and perhaps an even higher standard of living by 2050.

The event has shown that Mindanao’s business community is united in the pivot, ready to soar and build a resilient and inclusive economy for the next generation. Moving forward, more discussions will take place among Mindanao’s business leaders, more business matching and networking sessions will be undertaken to create synergies that will make each others’ businesses more competitive, profitable, and resilient.

When this happens, the additional earnings from these activities will translate to an even bigger economic expansion, creating even more diversification and opportunity for even more Mindanaoans. I look forward to the next few months as we make this process happen. Truly, fulfilling Mindanao’s promise will take the entire country higher.