Trade fair challenges SMEs to adapt in modern times

Products of small and medium enterprises in Iloilo are on exhibit at Artesanias de Iloilo Trade Fair in SM City-Iloilo from October 23-27, 2019. (Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

A BRANDED provincial trade fair of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in lloilo province challenged small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to level up and innovate in order to adapt to the modern market industry.

Artesanias de Iloilo Trade Fair is the very first branded provincial trade fair of DTI which aims to showcase arts and crafts of Iloilo in the modern world.

DTI Assistant Regional Director and concurrent Iloilo Provincial Director Ermelinda Pollentes said they want trade fairs to level up so that SMEs are prepared to participate in the national and international arena.


“It will really focus on the artisans and ingenuity of Ilonggo. We want to give credence and recognition to the Ilonggo ingenuity so that artists and artisans will continue to improve and it will be easy for them to join other high-level fairs. They have to be prepared from the municipal trade fair to the provincial trade fair, regional trade fair, and other national and international fairs,” Pollentes said in her speech during the opening ceremonies of the trade fair on October 23, 2019 at SM City Iloilo in Mandurriao district.

Jane Russel Prudente of the Industry Development Division of DTI-Iloilo said trade fairs were conducted in the previous years in several ways.

“During the previous years, we have conducted trade fairs in several ways but this year we are going to brand the provincial trade fair. The Artesanias de Iloilo concept takes its roots from the word, ‘Artesanias’ which means craftmanship,” she explained.

In her speech, Pollentes urged the participants of the trade fair and SMEs to establish their online presence apart from the typical brick and mortar setting.

“There is a need to make sure that you have both an online presence and brick and mortar in a digitized economy. In the online presence, it is necessary that your products should be of great quality and deliver a commitment,” she stressed.

Instead of competing, Pollentes said SMEs should cooperate with one another and establish a niche and avail of different support services of DTI.

“Innovation need not start from innovation. It can be an existing product that you can add something which you see is not being served by the market. Let us continue to level up because in the context of the fourth industrial revolution there is really a need to level up that is why you have to partner with everybody. We have shared service facilities (SSFs) to help you,” she added.

She also underscored the need for SMEs to focus on the big market which are millennials who have huge purchasing power.

“We want that you produce and develop products that are really needed especially by the millennials. As much as possible, focus on this big market of millennials. Develop new and innovative products for the millennials because they are those with huge purchasing power but don’t forget other markets,” she stressed.

Around 50 exhibitors from the food and craft sectors, homestyle and wearables, bamboo products as well as beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) participated in the five-day Artesanias de Iloilo Trade Fair.

“These are regular clients of DTI Iloilo with potentials to grow,” Pollentes said.

The five-day fair from October 23-27, 2019 at SM City Iloilo is expected to generate around P3 million worth of sales, Pollentes added.