From hard hit to full of hope | Investigator’s opinion

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The protracted pandemic has forced many Filipinos to quit their jobs or accept lower wages, as many companies struggle with falling sales, recurring lockdowns and the need to survive the protracted economic recession.

It’s a grim scenario, but some people find ways to evolve – by trying one form of entrepreneurship or another to support their household, and it happens even among those who have been fortunate enough to keep their day-to-day jobs.

A survey by financial literacy advocacy group The Global Filipino Investors (TGFI) of more than a thousand respondents, most of them based in the country, showed that 64 percent of those employed tried to launch a new business while retaining their current jobs during the pandemic. Almost half have branched out into online sales, while 14% have taken advantage of self-employment opportunities. TGFI expects these numbers to continue to rise, as 18% of those surveyed said they had lost their main sources of income with the onset of the health crisis.

However, many of them also discover that venturing into a new, lucrative business is fraught with pitfalls. Along with the need to be tech-savvy, new entrepreneurs must familiarize themselves with and comply with a host of government regulations, primarily around business registration, product registration, and taxation.

The TGFI survey showed that education – knowing which business to venture into and the financial literacy you need to be successful – remains a major challenge for those who are just starting their own businesses. TGFI founder and chairman Floi Wycoco, a former Filipino overseas worker, noted that before the pandemic, aspiring entrepreneurs could easily meet friends or attend government-sponsored events to find new, lucrative ideas. . But blockades have ruled out such face-to-face gatherings. Building your network, which is necessary to successfully sell, was much better when aspiring entrepreneurs could meet in person, according to Wycoco.

Another major challenge is to adapt its systems to a digital market. “Many respondents are still moving slowly or are familiarizing themselves with the use of online payment platforms. Besides the availability of their products not only on social media platforms, creating their own websites is also a challenge, ”said Wycoco.

As financial technology – primarily the use of online banking payment systems or electronic wallets that allow customers to transact money through their cellphones or laptops – has accelerated and spread across the country as a result. Due to the mobility restrictions imposed by the pandemic, it has also been difficult for many ordinary people to understand and embrace. The problem is worse for minimum wage earners: the cost of the Internet necessary for an active online presence, even on free social media sites, is quite prohibitive.

Mastering financial technology seems to be equally intimidating for buyers or potential customers: the TGFI survey found that while the use of online banking services jumped 75% and e-wallets by 71% as preferred payment methods, 42% of those surveyed have always chosen cash as their method of payment, and only 2% have used credit cards to pay for their transactions.

Government regulation and compliance, of course, remains the biggest concern of new entrepreneurs, such as getting notice from the Bureau of Internal Revenue for anyone doing business using the Internet to register by a set date and starts paying taxes. Registration and tax laws need to be implemented, and there are, to be fair, benefits for the government to adhere to such regulations. Registered businesses, for example, “are eligible for the Department of Trade and Industry’s low-interest loan program and may be eligible for government small business wage subsidy programs,” as one editorial noted. previous of this document. But there is no reason the government cannot make the process less painful and arduous for harassed citizens who are simply learning the ropes of starting and maintaining a business. Registration requirements, for example, should be designed in such a way that they do not impose additional financial costs and other bureaucratic burdens on small sellers and resellers.

While the TGFI survey showed that the pandemic was, for some Filipinos, a difficult learning experience that forced them to become more resourceful, creative and enterprising to generate new income, which the survey also highlighted. , this is how these struggling entrepreneurs still need all the help they can get, mainly from the government through minimal regulation and red tape, and from big business through the reduced cost of learning, adoption and income from technology, as they now pass workers and employees hard hit by health and economic challenges. from crises to hopeful entrepreneurs under the new normal.

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