COVID-19 shut down businesses but also spurred entrepreneurship


THE coronavirus pandemic shuttered a number of businesses amid lockdowns, but it also harnessed the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos.

“The biggest trend is that more people are getting into business, which is good,” Kendrick C. Co, head of strategic partnerships at nonbank financing company Esquire, said at a recent small business forum.

“A lot of people got into that mindset of seeing a need and then thinking ‘Oh, maybe I can fulfill that need,’” he said. “That’s the root of entrepreneurship.”

Another factor was the work-from-home setup that made erstwhile corporate workers reluctant to return to the office, Mr. Co said.

“Webinars and online events are another trend that became popular, so people got into that rabbit hole of learning about entrepreneurship,” he separately told BusinessWorld.

Entrepreneurship is “one of those things that’s hard to shut off” once you get a taste of it, he said. “You’ll want to keep on trying.” 

Esquire offers noncollateral loans to small and medium enterprises.

Small businesses account for 99.59% of companies in the Philippines, according to data from the local statistics agency.

With the interest in entrepreneurship growing, “the aim is to make small businesses graduate from one level to the next,” said Trixie Esguerra-Abrenilla, managing director at the Philippine SME (PHILSME), which organized the business expo earlier this month.

“The expo’s overall objective is to help them come together, collaborate with each other, and have them showcase their business solutions,” she added. 

Ms. Abrenilla said these activities for SMEs go beyond the expo through the Philippine Business Network, a monthly gathering of business owners where they get updated on offers from different companies, as well as interact with other service providers. 

“With PHILSME, we will continue to support these businesses. We will continue to give valuable resources and opportunities to them,” she told a news briefing on the sidelines of the expo. — PBM