At a time when small businesses are closing their doors and sending their employees home, Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala encourages “like-minded” business groups to help resuscitate MSMEs, thereby preserving and creating jobs.
In this year’s Sustainability Summit hosted by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) Philippines, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said the reopening of the economy requires a whole-of-nation approach, where enterprises hold hands while recovering from “closure of businesses, increase in the number of the unemployed and the underemployed, and hunger and poverty.”
UNGC CEO and Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo, meanwhile, said that accelerating recovery would require focusing on MSMEs, which account for more than 90% of the economy of most countries and have been the hardest-hit sector by the pandemic. “Partnerships are now more important than ever. We will only recover better if we all work together,” she added.
In his keynote speech, Zobel, 2017 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Pioneer, urged businesses to increase collaboration on issues of overarching national importance. “I believe that all businesses, big or small, stand to benefit during this time if we all collaborate on a shared goal rather than stick to the traditional business instinct of maximizing competitive advantage,” he said.
Zobel also joined Ojiambo and Edillon in stressing the role of small enterprises as “engines of employment and growth”—the very reason why the Ayala Group of Companies has rolled up its sleeves to help MSMEs, which account for 99.5% of businesses and 63% of jobs in the Philippines.
“I strongly believe that large enterprises should actively help maintain the dynamism of this ecosystem of businesses of all sizes,” he said. “Businesses can only do well and maintain their relevance and longevity if they’re also able to do good for their customers, partners, and their communities. We at Ayala have long been advocates of this type of thinking.”
At the onset of the pandemic and quarantine, the Ayala Group took the pain together with the 250,000 small enterprises within its ecosystem via rent condonation, waiving of fees, and payment extension. To this day, Ayala Land offers significant rent support for partner merchants (P5.6 billion as of end-September). BPI BanKo waives P24-million of fees and offers loan restructuring to 5,500 businesses. Meanwhile, Manila Water and Globe implement flexible payment terms for utility bills. Even Ayala group employees took money out of their own pockets and raised P149 million to support staff under no-work, no-pay arrangements.
Beyond financial assistance, the Ayala Group also serves its MSME ecosystem by offering innovative products and services, engaging in joint projects, sharing industry expertise, and continuously investing in startups through venture capital. AC Health offers Unli-Konsulta cards to entrepreneurs who want to keep their doors open but worry about their employees’ health. Manila Water engages with 1,600 MSMEs as business partners for materials and labor, alongside serving over 56,000 small businesses within its concession area. Most recently, the Ayala group formed the Ayala Enterprise Circle (https://www.facebook.com/ayalaenterprisecircle) to upskill, connect, and enable MSMEs.
“Enterprises have been critical to Ayala’s growth story. Our recovery rests in maintaining and developing an ecosystem of large companies and MSMEs,” Zobel said, adding that in times of plenty and in crisis, no one should be left behind.
“I strongly believe that large enterprises should actively help maintain the dynamism of this ecosystem of businesses of all sizes…Businesses can only do well and maintain their relevance and longevity if they’re also able to do good for their customers, partners, and their communities. We at Ayala have long been advocates of this type of thinking,” said Ayala Corporation Chairman and CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala in his remarks delivered at the UN Global Compact Sustainability Summit 2020 – “Uniting Business to Support MSME Recovery and Resilience” held virtually last Nov. 5, 2020. In photo with Mr. Zobel is Ping Manongdo, Country Manager of ECO-Business Philippines.