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‘Nakakalocal’: A year of shining the spotlight on local SMEs

By Johanna Añes-de la Cruz, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 01, 2023 9:00 am

SMEs are the economic lifeblood of the Philippines, accounting for more than 99 percent of registered businesses and providing 60 percent of the country’s total employment.

The numbers are overwhelming, but more than the figures, behind these percentages are countless lives who are united by a common goal: making their business a success.

Many SMEs are backed by a creative and passionate team of individuals, whose goals are as lofty as they are noble. Without the resources of larger, more established businesses, however, they are faced with more challenges, with the pandemic hitting them especially hard.

PhilStar Media Group president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte (right) with (from left) Tim Yap, LivClean’s Pinky Yee, Ramon Lopez, and LivClean’s Lynet Ng at the launch of Nakakalocal: Love Local, Grow Global in June 2022

Recognizing the pivotal role of SMEs in boosting the Philippine economy and safeguarding our heritage, Philstar Media Group (PMG) came up with Nakakalocal: Love Global, Grow Global, a nationwide advocacy program which provides said businesses with the guidance and platform they need to be on the rebound, grow, and thrive after the challenges of the last three years.

By putting the limelight on the business profiles of these SMEs whose products and services are proudly Philippine made, The STAR hopes to encourage more consumers to support and buy local. More than increasing sales, however, Nakakalocal also aims to spread more awareness of Pinoy skill, creativity, and ingenuity, which are all worthy of being showcased on an international level.

On top of these, Nakakalocal is one of The STAR’s means of contributing to nation-building.

Nakakalocal presents an award to Chef Irene and Jacob’s Gourmet Foods for embodying its Love Local, Grow Global spirit at the Ayala Circle’s first-ever Incredibiz Awards.

“We believe SMEs are vital drivers of economic growth in the Philippines and so we plan to support them by offering ourselves as a platform for their creative products and their inspiring stories,” said Lucien Dy Tioco, executive vice president of PMG.

“Beyond the use of our many diverse platforms, we are also creating a venue for SMEs to connect with mentors, learn new skills, and discover techniques to nurture future growth together with our supportive partners who share our vision,” added Dy Tioco.

A year of learning, mentoring, partnerships

In a nutshell, Nakakalocal’s goals are pretty straightforward: get more Filipinos to buy local and get more SMEs to go global. The road to achieving these two goals, however, is far from being smooth and paved.

With this, The STAR has lined up a series of instructional and inspiring activities for a year to help ease the road to success of its 36 partner SMEs, which came from various industries including Food and Delicacies, Digital Technology, Home Furniture, Jewelry and Accessories, Clothing, and Health Essentials.

The criteria in choosing the SMEs had been stringent, with every business entity needing to achieve each of the following benchmarks:

  • Products and services must have a unique value and bring something new to the table
  • Must have a customer-centric business approach
  • Delivers high-quality products and services with a strong and patriotic vision
  • Should be determined to put the Philippines on the global map with their business
  • Products and services should be a representation of Filipino culture and identity
  • Supports sustainability
  • Should be ethical and socially responsible
  • Must be a registered business

The 36 SMEs underwent a full-year program of promotions and mentoring sessions to help them harness their full potentials, allowing them to grow their businesses with help from The STAR and its various platforms and partners.

The program specifically provides SMEs new skills, as well as business and marketing insights and techniques to help them better navigate the industry. Best practices from seasoned entrepreneurs, digital content, and exciting events serve as guideposts for them to plan their future sustainably.

Another goal of Nakakalocal is to connect The STAR SMEs with the company’s institutional partners, guided by three pillars—Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion—for a strong marketing promotional plan.

Partner institutions included Go Negosyo, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Ayala Enterprise Circle, Pilì, Rush, Yabang Pinoy, and Startup Village.

A year of enriching activities

Since the launch of Nakakalocal, the advocacy program has had one event after another, ensuring that the 36 SMEs are able to make the most out of the initiative.

Even before the launch in June of last year, an integrated media campaign kicked off the advocacy in May through a series of feature articles and videos.

June to December, meanwhile, was Phase 1 of Nakakalocal with the theme “Growing Your Business,” wherein the project was formally launched. This phase was focused on how to grow and take the SMEs businesses to greater heights.

Celebpreneurs RJ Ledesma and Ara Mina of Hazelberry with Paymongo relationship officer Carrie Nakpil, clubpreneur and eventologist Tim Yap, and Rush chief growth officer James Gasara at the Nakakalocal launch in June 2022

During the launch last June 15 at Casa Buenas in Pasay, then Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez introduced the program to the public, followed by a Celebpreneur Forum, and the presentation of the rookie batch of the 36 Nakakalocal STAR SMEs.

Nakakalocal was also featured on The Philippine STAR’s Modern Living channel and One News Balita.

On July 22, the first Eduserye, a workshop combined with a public forum, was held via Facebook Live. With the title “Ready, Set, NeGOsyo,” the activity gave participants useful information on how they can start a business through a strong grasp of the fundamentals.

Celebpreneurs Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo briefly took the limelight on Sept. 24 with an online fan meet and live forum, where they had the chance to share pieces of advice to budding entrepreneurs especially those in the food business.

Nakakalocal x AllHome Filipino Aesthetic Furniture Fair

From Nov. 9 to 19, Philstar Media Group, in partnership with AllHome, held the “AllHome x Nakakalocal Home Aesthetic Furniture Fair” at Nomo-A Vista Lifestyle Center on Molino Blvd., Bacoor, Cavite. Local furniture manufacturers and designers took center stage not only to showcase their products, but also their skill and craftsmanship. Customers were able to choose from a wide array of exclusive local products from the store.

Nakaka-young, nakaka-inspire, Nakakalocal: The winners of the Nakakalocal Investar College Battles at Robinsons Metro East

A business pitching contest was held last Nov. 22. Titled “InveSTAR: A Madiskarteng Entrepreneur College Battle,” it brought together aspiring entrepreneurs and star students in a competition for the best mobile business concept.

The winning group—Farm2Metro, with members from Quezon City University and Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Santo Tomas, Batangas—was awarded their own Bajaj Food Cart from partner company TriMotors Technology Corporation. Their business pitch Agrikultura PH is a mobile farm produce stand.

In the last quarter of 2022, The STAR highlighted inspiring stories and tips from fledgling SMEs that started their journey with the campaign. With the arrival of the holiday season, the perfect holiday gifts and bundles from the Palengk-E of partner SMEs were likewise featured.

At the Nakakalocal Kasosyo Mall Tour at Robinsons Place Las Piñas: Lucien Dy Tioco with Robinsons Malls marketing and advertising head Angie Lou Tapales and PhilStar print advertising manager Babes Adriano

From November to December, “Ka-Sosyo: Making a Deal Real” was mounted in partnership with various local mall operators. The event was a free “incubator seller program” where STAR SMEs were featured in selected partner malls namely Greenhills Shopping Center, SM North EDSA, Robinsons Las Piñas, and Lucky Chinatown Mall.

Phase Two of Nakakalocal was from December 2022 to April 2023, carrying the theme “At the Peak” and is the culminating period of Nakakalocal Year One.

Nakakalocal kicks off its Mall Tour at Greenhills Shopping Center.

On Jan. 25, an online forum and workshop entitled “Katoolong: Digital Marketing on a Shoestring Budget” was held to help equip entrepreneurs with the tools needed to set up and convert their physical stores to online. The workshop-forum was facilitated by Jill Aquino, founder and CEO of 1DMG, and Carlo Calimon of Project Match.

The second installment in the Eduserye series was mounted last Feb. 17 with the theme “Go, Grow, Negosyo!” where SMEs were given ideas on how they can take their business to higher grounds. The event was facilitated by Ricky Mariano, CFO of San Miguel Corporation and instructor at Integra Academy.

Nakakalocal goes to IT Park Cebu: At the Nakakalocal x Avida Land “Homepossible” Eduserye Lounge Talk

Last March 11, Nakakalocal had its first activity outside Luzon with “Nakakalocal Eduserye Lounge Talks” at Seda Central Bloc in Cebu City. The event, which was done in partnership with Avida Land Corp., was attended by SME owners in the Queen City of the South.

Among the speakers who shared their expertise in business and real estate were Dr. Stephen Roy Condino, founder and president of Wodd PH; Amy Salgados, VisMin sales head of Avida; Bibi Doll Paradela “Zee” Pono, owner of GRND UP Consumer Goods Trading; and Rey Vincent Camaso, owner of Akaw Surf Co.

Nakakalocal comes to Evia Lifestyle Center: Senator Mark Villar (second from left), PhilStar Media Group executive vice president Lucien Dy Tioco, chief merchandising head of All Day Diana Prince Ang, and COO of All Day Jacqueline Cano at the opening of Nakakalocal x All Day “A Taste of Home” food fair.

On April 19 at Evia Lifestyle Center, Nakakalocal featured 10 Filipino brands which have been instrumental in helping promote and preserve our rich culinary heritage. Among the brands that participated were Godel Chocolate, Abundance Agri-Tourism Farm, Biba Cakes and Pastries, SARBO Beneficiaries, Oh So Healthy: OSH!, Dingras Empanada, and Vegetari. Also present was PiLILYa Handicraft that creates handicrafts made with water lilies.

And to officially close Year 1 of Nakakalocal and usher in its second year, “NakakaBazaar: The Grand Nakakalocal Fair 2023” was held last May 18 and 19 at the SM Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia.

At the Nakakalocal Kasosyo Mall Tour at Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo

The two-day bazaar featured all the 36 STAR SMEs, other exhibitors and their wares. The event also allowed shoppers to take a peek into the stories behind the products being showcased.

Perhaps most importantly, NakakaBazaar took the organizers and participants on a trip down memory lane, where they were able to look back on the year that was and took stock of the learning process, pain points, and steps needed for further improvement. The event also served as a venue where plans and activities for Nakakalocal Year Two were revealed.

At the last leg of the Nakakalocal Mall Tour in SM North EDSA

On the second day of the event, exceptional STAR SMEs were given recognition under seven award categories, namely: Nakakabilib, Nakakaasenso, Nakakaunlad, Nakakamangha, Nakakainspire, Nakakaakit (Best Booth), and the first ever NakakaLocal of the Year Award.

The first year of Nakakalocal was not without its share of challenges, but with everyone’s earnest and enthusiastic efforts, the advocacy program’s Year One proved to be a resounding success, ushering in what can only be a better, bigger, and brighter Nakakalocal Year 2.