Senator Bam Aquino’s Personal Insights on MSME Development

Photo Caption: Photo courtesy of Sen. Bam Aquino’s official Facebook Page.

Senator Bam Aquino, as the youngest Senator currently seated in the Philippine senate, is a staunch advocate of capacitating and empowering micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. He has authored the Go Negosyo Act in the Philippines wherein the establishment of negosyo centers (one-stop shops for an entrepreneur’s varying needs) is mandated in all provinces, cities, and municipalities. Furthermore, Senator Bam Aquino has championed other initiatives to fast-track and aid the development of MSMEs such as lowering their tax rates and consolidating MSME assistance programs.

On April 28, Sen. Aquino will be joining four other panelists in a session moderated by Cathy Yang entitled Creating an Enabling Environment in Achieving Prosperity For All. This session aims to present the current environment and ecosystem for micro, small and medium entrepreneurs from the perspective of the enablers both from the private and public sectors respectively. It also aims to present the current programs of the speakers and how these affect and shape a more enabling business environment.

In a short interview, Sen. Aquino gave his brief insights on the upcoming summit and MSME development.

Q:  In your perspective, what constitutes as an “enabling environment” for the micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs?

BA: An enabling business environment is one that minimizes barriers to success and encourages more Filipinos to build a sustainable business.

In my work with sari-sari store owners as a social entrepreneur, I found that there are 3 key areas of support that every entrepreneur needs to succeed – the 3Ms. These are Money, Market and Mentorship.

For Money, entrepreneurs – from micro to small and medium – need access to financing with reasonable interest rates to meet their capital requirements.

Access to markets, the second M, is another critical element in building a sustainable business. An environment where it easy to enter markets and where market linkage is strong is an environment that enables the growth of MSMEs.

The third M, Mentorship, refers to the training and strengthening of entrepreneurial skills. More importantly, mentorship provides moral and technical support for our MSMEs. Any entrepreneur will tell you that growing a business is not easy. Having mentors and a support group of fellow entrepreneurs to guide and push you can bring you closer to success.

To create an enabling environment, we need to ensure that MSMEs have easy access to these 3Ms.

But it’s also important to note that the government has a role to play, not just in empowering MSMEs with the 3Ms but also in ensuring that government regulations and processes do not hinder the growth of startups and MSMEs.

Government should, for example, strive to minimize red tape and simplify taxation.

Q: Can you give us an example of one of your initiatives/programs that directly contributes to an enabling environment for MSMEs?

BA: My first 3 years as a senator was dedicated to the development of the MSME sector. In fact, 6 out of 17 laws that we passed are in support of MSMEs. The very first law that our office passed, with the help of Go Negosyo, was the Go Negosyo Act.This law mandates that every municipality in the Philippines will have a Negosyo Center where Pinoy entrepreneurs can receive support from qualified business counselors – from trainings in basic accounting, to product design, market linkages, and access to financing. We envisioned entrepreneur hubs where every Filipino can gain access to the 3Ms and can be assured of success in their business.

To date, there are 470 Negosyo Centers up and running that are a joint effort between local government units and the DTI. These Negosyo Centers have serviced 750,000 Filipinos and will continue to grow and improve the quality of their service.

We also have the Microfinance NGOs Act and the Credit Surety Fund Cooperative Act to enable better access to financing for micro to small enterprises. There is the Youth Entrepreneurship Act that mandates entrepreneurship and financial literacy training in our schools so young Filipinos have the basic knowledge to start a business.

Lastly, the Philippine Competition Act and the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act are 2 landmark legislations that help MSMEs become more competitive in the local market.

Q: What aspect/s of the Prosperity for All Summit are you most looking forward to?

BA: I’m looking forward to learning about new ways to empower Pinoy MSMEs to scale-up and penetrate the ASEAN market. I’m also excited to hear about the new opportunities for MSMEs in the region.

It will be interesting to learn from our neighbors about innovations and best practices in the private sector, in legislation, and in government. On the other hand, we are happy to share the positive experience we’ve had working hand-in-hand with MSMEs here in the Philippines.

I’m hopeful that through this summit, we can form stronger partnerships, learn together, and grow together as a united ASEAN.

Prosperity for All Summit Web Image
The Prosperity for All Summit is organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, headed by its current Chair and the Philippine Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The summit is a a one-day event focused on “Driving growth through micro and small entrepreneurs in Trade, Services and Agriculture”, and will be held in the City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2017.

To register, accomplish the online form at For additional information on the Prosperity for All Summit, please contact: (+632) 6315001 or  [email protected], or visit