From left to right: Hon. Antonio Jose Rebong III (Board Member, Lone District of Occidental Mindoro), Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola, DOST Secretary Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña, Congresswoman Josephine R. Sato, DOST MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) MIMAROPA recognizes the importance of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in promoting inclusive economic growth in the country. On April 7, 2017, the agency awarded certificates of ownership to three (3) graduates of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) in Occidental Mindoro. At the same time, P19.5 million worth of technology assistance were turned over to 14 beneficiaries.

The ceremonial awarding of SETUP and community-based enterprises beneficiaries served as an avenue to recognize the hard work and dedication of entrepreneurs who through the help of SETUP, succeeded in growing their businesses. It also sought to encourage more people to engage in technopreneurship.

 One of the firms recognized was De Jesus Enterprises, which started out simply as a vulcanizing shop that offered repair services for farm equipment. After availing of SETUP assistance, the firm is now capable of manufacturing trailers and hand tractors. These farm implements are also being sold outside the province, reaching Oriental Mindoro, Palawan, and Nueva Ecija. The proprietor, Ms. Ofelia De Jesus, shared her success story. One of the lessons she learned is to focus on improving every aspect of the firm and take care of the employees.

Occidental Mindoro, being a province rich in aquatic and agricultural resources, has huge potential for socioeconomic growth. New technology can add value to existing products such as rice, corn, mangoes, banana, salt, and fish. During the event, DOST Secretary Prof. Fortunato T. de la Peña commended local entrepreneurs for their diligence and innovative capability. Specifically, he lauded the province’s salt industry for being a good example of coopetition – cooperation among competitors to bring about mutually beneficial results. Reiterating his commitment to push forth socioeconomic growth in the province through science and technology, he mentioned possible areas of R&D focus such as the propagation of native livestock (i.e., chicken, pigs, and ducks), new technology for rice fortification, and value-adding of salt and processed foods and vegetables. He hopes success stories like that of De Jesus Enterprises’ serve as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Kami ay handang tumulong basta technology and kailangan,” he said.

Likewise, DOST MIMAROPA Regional Director Dr. Ma. Josefina P. Abilay is also hopeful that MSMEs’ success stories will increase awareness on the benefits of science and technolgy, and its roles as drivers of inclusive economic growth in the country.

Congresswoman Josephine R. Sato spoke briefly during the event to remind everyone about the numerous income and employment generating opportunities that aspiring entrepreneurs may capitalize on. She further thanked Secretary de la Peña for DOST’s initiative, which have also benefitted people in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in the province. Looking forward to more instances of collaborative partnerships with DOST, she left Secretary de la Peña with the message “Invest in the people of Occidental Mindoro, and we will never fail you.” To date, DOST MIMAROPA has provided a total of 107 projects with various firms in Occidental Mindoro.

Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola provided the closing remarks through his appreciation to DOST. He invited Secretary de la Peña to come back anytime and hopes for a future partnership with DOST, especially the indigenous people of the province.

By: Patricia O. Calora, DOST MIMAROPA