An online campaign that accompanied an e-commerce mentoring program by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Cebu generated leads from as far as London for a furniture company.

The fact that potential buyers visited the Cebu-based company to check out its products shows the reach of digital marketing, said DTI Cebu Provincial Director Maria Elena C. Arbon during the Digitize Cebu conference in Cebu last August 30.

As the agency tasked to assist micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), DTI is now focused on getting them to undergo digital transformation.

“Last year, we went into the startup space. We interfaced with them and developed some programs for tech startups. This year, we’re trying to mix together startups and tech communities with brick and mortar MSMEs,” Arbon said.

Digitize Cebu Maria Elena C. Arbon
PROGRAMS. DTI Cebu Provincial Director Maria Elena C. Arbon goes over the different programs for micro to medium enterprises of her office. Key parts of the program revolve around technology tools and digital developments.

Digital transformation programs

DTI has several programs for micro to medium enterprises, three of which revolve around technology tools and digital developments such as email list cleaning.

These include startup ecosystem development, digital transformation for brick-and-mortar MSMEs, and e-commerce mentoring.

According to Arbon, the e-commerce program is an intense 6-week, 12-module course that aims to get companies online. Close to the end of the training activity, the enterprises are required to undertake a 3-week selling campaign using what they’ve learned from the course.

The ecommerce campaigns have resulted in sales amounting to as much as P2 million for the first batch and P3 million for the second batch of enterprises. Furniture buyers from London also came to visit a furniture company in Cebu when it went online as a consequence of the e-commerce course.

Cebu startup ecosystem

Arbon cited that DTI also just recently held the Slingshot Conference, a tech event that aims to bring together traditional businesses and startups so they get to serve each other’s needs.

Early this year, she said they came up with a startup ecosystem development program. Part of the process involved using existing tools to determine the maturity of the startup environment taking into consideration talent, capital, and infrastructure among other things.

“On a scale of 1 to 5, we’ve determined we’re at 2 plus,” Arbon added. One of the ongoing campaigns of DTI is to create a master list of existing startups in Cebu.

Marlen is the editor of and co-founder of Cebu-based journalism startup InnoPub Media.

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