Viber vows to help MSMEs flourish

HAILING micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as the backbone of the country’s economy, messaging platform Viber commits to revitalize the growth of this sector to fuel post-pandemic recovery.

The firm recently mounted a workshop dubbed “Pag-andam Na, Cebu: Grow your Businesses with Viber” to help MSMEs, particularly those engaged in online businesses to maximize Viber’s suite of business-friendly features in connecting with their customers and turning them into advocates, tapping new markets and building their presence online to improve their businesses.

David Tse, senior director for Asia Pacific at Rakuten Viber, led the Viber team during the workshop. He stressed Cebu is one of the global tech player’s major growth areas in the country.

“Engaging with the Viber community in Cebu is part of the company’s ethos of serving users first and foremost,” he said, adding that Viber wants to be more relevant in the Philippine market and in particular understand the Cebu market better, especially since the app has gone beyond being a messaging app.


“MSME became a global focus because of what we do in the Philippines,” said Tse.

Viber partnered with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry to take a more active role in educating, enabling and empowering the MSMEs.

It also tapped homegrown food community and online delivery service Let’s Eat Bai and local content creator group Bisaya Vlog Squad, providing them with a verified Channel to engage with their communities and offering their followers with exclusive Viber stickers.

“Supporting MSMEs will not only impact up-and-coming entrepreneurs but also the communities they serve. MSMEs can provide employment and invigorate industries. This is why Viber is rooting for their success,” said Tse.

In 2022, the Philippines posted 244 percent in MSME Viber growth channels year-on-year, with a 45 percent increase in monthly active users.

The platform also posted 38 percent growth in group features usage year-on-year.

MSMEs make up 99.5 percent of business establishments in the country, provide 63 percent of employment to the Philippine workforce and contribute about 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“In the past years, we’ve seen the rise of hyperlocal activities as more Cebuanos have been relying on Viber to keep in touch with their families, friends and co-workers wherever they are in the world. We’ve also witnessed how local entrepreneurs use Viber in promoting their products and transacting with their customers,” said Lana Macapagal, public relations lead for Asia Pacific at Rakuten Viber.

Macapagal said the company saw a surge in Viber’s usage in the Philippines during the pandemic, with a lot of MSMEs particularly online sellers leveraging the app to expand their market reach to generate sales.

“To further support this emerging user behavior, empowering our MSMEs in the Philippines has also become a purpose and commitment at Viber. We hope to empower our Cebuano entrepreneurs to leverage the app to help better serve their customers and improve their business,” she said.

Rakuten Viber is part of Rakuten Group Inc., a world leader in e-commerce and financial services.

Business solutions

During the workshop, Veronica Feleo, business development manager at Rakuten Viber, shared tips and best practices on how to use the app, allowing Cebuano entrepreneurs to make the most out of tools available for them in growing their businesses.

Karla Banua, sales head of advertising in APAC at Rakuten Viber, talked about how different businesses can increase engagement and drive sales with Viber for Business.

“Viber develops solutions that help companies reach their audience at each step of the customer journey — in a way that’s convenient for users and effective for brands,” said Banua. “Today, we offer branded stickers and lenses, Viber ads, business messages and chatbots that help build awareness, influence consideration, drive conversion and nurture loyalty. And early next year we are launching commercial account — a single meta business entity for all brand-user interactions.”

Online business owners of KaonTaNa and Grnd Up Zee Pono and Rhea Calooy said the messaging app helped them launched their online business at the height of the pandemic.

“The app has been a game changer for our business, especially at the height of the pandemic. Who would’ve thought that a messaging app can also become our most important customer service tool. Viber helps us take care of our customers, who are the lifeblood of our business — of any business. We hope other independent online entrepreneurs like us can also benefit from Viber’s business-friendly features,” said Pono.

Pono and Calooy who are both Cebuanos emerged as the champion of Viber’s Pinoy Dream Negosyo Season 2.