Campaign boosts local products as new premium

·4 min read

COURIER service J&T Express Philippines is encouraging more Filipinos to buy Philippine-made products produced by regional small and micro entrepreneurs and promote them in the national scale.

Anchored on the campaign dubbed as Certified Lokalista, the initiative aims to encourage micro and small business owners from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to bring their products to the open and showcase Filipinos’ distinct ingenuity.

The campaign which runs from Oct. 16, 2020 to Jan. 14, partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Philippine Trade Training Center (DTI-PTTC).

DTI-PTTC officer-in-charge Nelly Dillera said the e-commerce explosion as a result of the lockdown hasn’t only given rise to new tech-savvy entrepreneurs. It also opened a gateway for various Filipino cultures to be reintroduced, especially to the younger generation.

“Culture is the basis of how we can and should develop products, from food to wearables. What is important is preserving them while adapting to the new global economy. E-logistics has made it possible for local products and crafts to be brought to the homes of the people,” said Dillera in a recent webinar.

She noted that there are about 75,000 online entrepreneurs who are now active on digital marketplaces, which prompted the DTI-PTTC to pursue a “backward integration.”

“We did a backward integration on helping people to start their own business and onboard e-commerce,” said Dillera.

While the DTI has extended so much support for export companies to flourish in the global scale, Dillera said helping micro and small entrepreneurs thrive in the local scene is a critical factor in the country’s goal to rebuild its economy, especially during these times.

DTI-PTTC is providing new entrepreneurs training in vital areas like the digitization of processes, business finance and operations, business marketing, business human resources and organization and working in the logistics and supply chain.

“We are helping online sellers to adapt to the new global economy,” she said, adding that the pandemic has changed consumer’s behavior and preferences.

“We need to retool, reskill and upskill our people because skills in the past are no longer applicable now,” she added. “Entrepreneurs need tech-up.”

Zoe Chi, vice president of J&T Express Philippines, said the Certified Lokalista campaign celebrates the hard work, creativity and nationalism of online sellers.

“Filipino entrepreneurs, especially those who went above and beyond amid the mobility restrictions brought about by the pandemic, deserve to be supported and recognized for their creativity and tenacity,” she said.

The Certified Lokalista campaign kickstarted in 2020 by awarding Filipino entrepreneurs with a Certified Lokalista badge that will recognize them as J&T trusted sellers.

These Certified Lokalistas, whose inspiring work has paved the way for the promotion of Filipino goods, will be awarded P20,000 worth of free shipping by J&T Express. These citations are also designed to influence more sellers to represent their own regional products online.

Ambassadors of heritage

Chi described how the challenges brought about by the coronavirus crisis and its lockdowns became instead an opportunity for businesses to discoverthe advantages of e-commerce and e-logistics.

“After the pandemic greatly reduced mobility, both old and new entrepreneurs without any previous e-commerce interest or experience joined the platform in droves. It was a matter of survival because people were staying away from brick-and-mortar stores and were doing a lot of their shopping online. But what these sellers may or may not realize is that by joining e-commerce, they aren’t just boosting online sales — they are becoming ambassadors of their own heritage,” she said.

Four Certified Lokalistas — Maria Todi, founder of the School of Living Tradition, based in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato; Katherine Jordan of Leyte-based online food store Mary’s Abuyog Special Toskolyet Moron, atbp.; Rica Dakudao-Buenaflor, founder of Que Rica; and Bulacan-based culinary whiz Rheeza Santiago-Hernandez — shared their opportunities and challenges in today’s business environment.

Todi, for instance, emphasized the intricacy and beauty with which native artisans design and weave T’boli shirts, bracelets, necklaces and rugs, among other heirlooms.

Because the handicrafts are a collective effort, Todi said that buying from the T’boli means “not just helping one weaver or organization, but helping a community.”

She added that entrepreneurship, in a way, helps preserve their tradition.

“When we market our products, consumers get to learn our way of life,” she said. (KOC)