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Who's Afraid of the World Wide Web

Provided by SME.com.ph

Not local fashion shoe label Figlia.

Last year, the company joined a trade exhibit at the Philippine Consulate in New York City to showcase their wares to the American public. As interested parties flocked to their booth, company representatives realized there weren’t enough printed sales brochures to go around.

Fortunately the Figlia website was already up and running. A computer workstation was immediately set up, and with just a few clicks, the company’s electronic brochure flashed on the computer screen, ready for viewing.

Plantersbank Vice President for Product Management and Marketing Adonis C. Yap clearly relishes telling this story. As head of the group tasked to improve key areas of business operations among SMEs, Ado has seen his fair share of clients who sharpened their competitive edge with a practical combination of traditional methods and technology tools.

Plantersbank pioneered the use of Development Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for SMEs in the country. ICT is a term that covers a wide array of technology driven products, services and systems designed to boost organizational efficiency and productivity. Towards this end, Plantersbank developed SME Proposition, or user-friendly integrated packages aimed at radically transforming operations in the different areas of business operation at the least possible cost. Each SME Proposition comes with a free Pentium 4 computer and printer package plus a choice of licensed SME software bundle and no-cost training module courtesy of Plantersbank. The top-of-the-line package includes Accounting Solutions Made Easy (Accounting SME) software. Accounting SME is designed so that management information like accounts receivable and disbursement needed for decision-making is only mouse click away.

One of the perks of SME Proposition is automatic membership in the directory of SME.com.ph, the country’s pioneer virtual community of local SMEs. Set up in 2000 with the help of Plantersbank’s foreign shareholder World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, SME.com.ph is now a 200-strong online program that serves as a robust platform for business networking among member companies, trade associations and businesses overseas.

The SME.com.ph website in which SME sites are linked offers updates on laws and programs concerning SMEs, comprehensive links to government sites, electronics versions of feature articles from this magazine and a library of frequently-used government forms or business e-books that can be downloaded at no cost. The SME Toolkit found in the site provides useful tips and tools on business planning and operations, sales and marketing, human resources, legal and finance matters.

“Development Information and Communication Technology will help manage businesses, cut costs and improve profitability “.

Plantersbank offers clients website design and maintenance services at minimal cost. “I realized how much I can save by marketing on the internet,” said Abel Luna of Fiesta Filipiniana Healthfood Corp., a producer of mushroom and fruit-based products. “A one year investment for the website www.fiestafilipiniana.com costs us less than one-twelfth of the annual contract for a small advertisement is a telephone directory.”

To be able to provide the best results, Ado’s gropu starts by conducting in-depth interviews with the officers of the company. “we make it a point to thoroughly understand the business and market before we even begin to tackle the concept,” says Ado. Being an SME-focused bank, we are able to draw on the business sense a banker and the artist’s creative vision to roll-out of the web-based product. The company website may include customized web solutions like online brochures to e-commerce depending on the client’s requirements.

Harnessing the power of the world wide web has proven extremely useful for companies engaged in the import/export business as well as those in services. World Link Couriers- www.worldlinkcouriers.com – for instance notes that linking up with SME.com.ph has helped level the playing field. “The internet is the great equalizer,” according to company president and CEO Jacque Ruby. “Because of our internet presence, we are now able to effectively compete with large, international firms.”

Given the conservative nature of the Filipino, how was Ado and his group able to persuade entrepreneurs to adopt modern ways and means of doing business, especially in the light of the much publicized meltdown tech share prices worldwide? “It’s true we encounter resistance, particularly among the elders in the company, but the next generation is usually more receptive to us,” says Ado. He adds, “We are able to convince them that technology will help them manage their business, cut costs and improve profitability.” The basic principles of ICT, after all, are now introduced even to early-graders in school. And as recent developments have borne out, rumors concerning the demise of the internet are grossly exaggerated.

Aside from the smorgasbord of financial products and services normally offered by other banks, Plantersbank also offers the Super Business Advantage with the needs of SMEs in mind. With tailor-made services like easy bills payment, check writing, electronic motorized bank messenger and post-dated check warehousing, this set up is extremely advantageous to SMEs.

In the end, Ado maintains the bank’s passion and commitment to SMEs and their pioneering wok and expertise in technology will help entrepreneurs grow their business and raise it to higher levels. As local maker of handcrafted ladies shoes Figlia can attest, now is the best time to equip Filipino entrepreneurs with truly global perspective.

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