By Melito Salazar Jr.
Last week, the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UPISSI) celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Officer-In-Charge, Dr. Fidel Nemenzo, a brod in the Pan Xenia Fraternity, invited me as well as former directors, Dr. Paterno Viloria and Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato de la Peña to share some of our experiences and insights.
I told the group that while my resolve to assist entrepreneurial development and the growth of small and medium enterprises started during my stint as faculty member of the UP College of Business Administration (even presenting a concept paper in the late 70’s on the integration of entrepreneurship in the business education curriculum which the college did not accept), it was my tenure in UPISSI that made me a strong advocate for entrepreneurship and SME (small and medium enterprises) development. The dedication and commitment of the UPISSI staff, the results of our researches and the inspiring stories of the entrepreneurs we helped and who in turn created so much jobs for others contributed to my own development as an SME promoter.
The publication, “50 years, stories…and more’’ issued by UPISSI in commemoration of the 50th anniversary had this to report on my tenure, “The new director brought in a fresh orientation. There was, for instance, a perceptible direction towards interacting in more concrete ways with other members of the UP community. This was manifested in workshops and seminars which were conducted in some units of the University. Another new orientation involved reaching our more generously and actively to universities in the groins, especially those with institutes of small business, with a view to share with them training, entrepreneurship development and extension “technologies,” which had been used successfully by the UPISSI. (The Entrepreneurship Development for Collegiate Education Level (EDCEL) in collaboration with the Philippine Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (PACSB) undertook four orientation seminars for deans and directors of PACSB member schools, trained 130 faculty members, developed instructional materials for the use of faculty members. It piloted the curriculum for a four year course on entrepreneurship and small business development in 6 business schools outside of Metro Manila and sought to the invigorated curriculum implemented in a majority of the collegiate schools of business all over the country.)
In training, the greater effort was placed on rural entrepreneurs and rural development workers. For the first time since its inception, the ISSI succeeded in training more participants from an underdeveloped region, specifically the Palawan area, than from the National Capital Region. Responding to the renewed interest in SMIs resulting from the August 21 tragedy that pushed small enterprises to the centerstage of economic development efforts, the Institute designed productivity improvement programs. Entrepreneurship training for retirees, displaced persons and returning migrant workers were designed in 1983 and implemented full blast by 1984.
In the area of publications and information dissemination, it was a busy and rewarding period. The Institute’s quarterly journal, the Small Business Entreprenews, won by year-end of 1983, the Anvil Award for outstanding public relations-information effort under the company external publications category. Under the new helmsman, the Institute launched in July 1983 a weekly “Small Business Section” in the Business Day, the country’s leading business daily. (Entretext, a textbook and teacher’s manual on entrepreneurship – for Filipino high school students was completed).”
I especially value what was written in Cornicle, a special issue of the ISSI newsletter, “…implementation of an active human resource development program, improvement in the financial status of SERDEF (the ISSI partner foundation) from a fund balance of less than a million to R15 million and UPISSI, introduction of computer technology, bagging the ARTDO award for HRD, and perhaps most importantly, succeeding in changing the work habits of the staff and demanding only the best from them.”
The plaque of appreciation from the staff had this citation, “for the energy, vision and commitment with which he ushered the Institute to a new era of professionalism, discipline and hard work in the service of the small enterprise sector.”
Thus it was not only the advocacy for SME development but also for professionalism that I brought with me to my posts after UPISSI – governor of the Board of Investments (BOI), BOI Managing Head, Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and member of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentralng Pilipinas. Today, in my capacity as Chair of Omnipay, Inc., independent director of RCBC, EVP of PACSB, weekly columnist of the Manila Bulletin and dean of the CEU School of Accountancy and Management, I have added the advocacy of financial inclusion.
Truly an advocacy one embraced stays with you forever.