Google Philippines has offered to help increase the number of SMEs in the Philippines that have a website. In order to accomplish this goal, the company has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to link SMEs to its online listing tool.

Yves Gonzales, Google Philippines government affairs and public policy head, told reporters on 26 February that the company had trained 2,780 SMEs in 20 cities and eight regions with digital tools since last year.

“The objective is really to help SMEs digitize,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity for SMEs to be able to be discoverable on (Google) search, on Maps. The digital skilling program is through the DTI’s Negosyo Centers. The Negosyo Center is the one that actually invites the SMEs to attend,” he concluded, adding that Google provides the trainers.

Google’s digital workshops and the use of its tools are free. Therefore, in today’s highly competitive and digital business ecosystem, SMEs should be making use of these available tools to engage with customers and clients digitally. Not only is it more efficient, it also saves a lot of time, something that SMEs can use as an advantage over MNCs.

Mr Gonzales also says that companies in the city centres are more aware of digital tools.

“There’s a lot of opportunities in the more rural areas for us to be able to reach those MSMEs, to actually just inform them that there are available tools,” he said.

While the online listing and app are free, businesses pay for added features that boost searchability and target advertising. However, tools such as Google My Business does not feature transaction or e-commerce features.

“If an SME wants to eventually graduate to some of Google’s additional tools and services ‘na may bayad’ (that have cost), then that’s optional,” Mr. Gonzales said. He adds that the project will serve to help Google organise and present more information to users.

“The consumer is changing nowadays. They’re more demanding,” Mr Gonzales said. “The current consumers now have evolved so that they want what they are searching for instantaneously and they want it to be customized for them.”

DTI said in a statement that SMEs employ 63 percent of the local workforce and generate 25 percent of the country’s revenue.

“We hope that our joint digital upskilling program will help SMEs become more competitive,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.

Google’s project to expand digital tools to SMEs includes programs in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, among others.


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