ALL EYES ON 2021 FOR PHILIPPINE MICRO, SMALL, AND MEDIUM BUSINESS OWNERS

Here it is – 2021 – the year after the surprise stress test and “black swan” event that was 2020.

I sit in front of my laptop on a quiet night trying to do a retrospective of the first working week of the year — How was it so far? What went right? What went wrong?

It’s the perfect spot. We are in a co-working space together with about two other people in the space. I’m connected to a fast local wifi with headphones on. Plus, it is the end of the week and the rest have gone home. Totally ready to immerse myself in my thoughts.

On my right is my husband finishing up his work for the week and on the left is my kid enjoying his last few days of vacation before online classes pick up again next week.

Before soaking myself in the glare of my screen typing away to make this post, I have fielded calls and chats to fellow founders and entrepreneurs in the network to understand what they have been up to and how they have been coping.

Fast forward to the end of January and I realized that whatever profound thoughts I may have written at the start of the year were long forgotten by the reality — that 2021 might also be damn busy but still as sucky as 2020.

I don’t want to be a doomsayer but all 2021 predictions from big organizations publishing articles about the Philippines do say otherwise. We need to buckle up and as they say, HUSTLE HARDER for 2021.

Here are some of the consistent concerns of our dear fellow founders:

We will FEEL the effects of the financial crisis this 2021.

To those who said that they were not affected by the global pandemic, good for them! I would say it’s rare to see businesses that did not experience any sort of effect on their organizations last 2020. BUT — Some people have come out of the year either underemployed or unemployed. That is the reality.

There are sectors that have taken a huge hit but suffice to say that there’s a snowball effect also to the rest of us.

Respondents identified that sectors such as the accommodation, particularly hospitality and tourism, along with transportation, as well as wholesale and retail trade are the hardest hit businesses by the pandemic.

https://mb.com.ph/2021/01/08/banks-show-subdued-optimism-on-economy-bsp/

Because of that, we have either let go of employees just to save on costs, or streamlined costs for sales and marketing, or worse closed down our businesses.

For those who are unemployed, this is where government can intervene with a fiscal stimulus packages. More ayuda and more cash assistance is needed.

“We have to put money in the pockets of our consumers. Right now, unemployment and underemployment are not helping. We need to put more programs that will create jobs or more money in terms of ayuda (cash aid),” he added.

https://mb.com.ph/2021/01/07/more-fiscal-stimulus-needed-to-boost-ph-economy-in-2021-plm-president/

And yet the question now is if we can even rely on the government or the LGU to fund for incoming vaccinations that their constituents need to gain herd immunity?

“Municipalities – especially those under 3rd to 6th income classes – will definitely have problems funding their pandemic response. Their sources of funds are just enough to cover the regular fiscal year, not one that is in the middle of a pandemic,” Suzara said, referring to incomes below P45 million annually.

https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/cash-strapped-lgus-during-pandemic-budget-covid-19-series-yearend-2020

So for 2021, here we are — still holding on to our cash and keeping our stashes safe to pad ourselves and our families from the effects of the crisis.

We are HOPEFUL that things will be better this 2021

Business owners like Jad Encarnacion of TechDaddy in Cebu are looking forward to a better year and a better economy. When asked what he is

Looking forward for a better economy and for the MSMEs to survive and thrive in this pandemic

The same thing has been said over and over about how Filipinos are “resilient” and that we can go through all this if only we “hustle harder”.

We will start RECOVERING in the second half of 2021

As of latest World Bank press release, we quote:

The collapse in global economic activity in 2020 is estimated to have been slightly less severe than previously projected, mainly due to shallower contractions in advanced economies and a more robust recovery in China. In contrast, disruptions to activity in the majority of other emerging market and developing economies were more acute than expected.

worldbank.org
https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2021/01/05/global-economy-to-expand-by-4-percent-in-2021-vaccine-deployment-and-investment-key-to-sustaining-the-recovery

Meaning to say that it wasn’t as worse as predicted. Then again, who knows what will happen in the second half. We all wish we could be fortune tellers at this point, and that can be my alternative career (I love tarot!).

But to be honest, we’re all just waiting on 2022 and onwards when the election budgets start showing up for the election period. Although that can also be bleak given that the response to the pandemic (hello, recession!) has erased all the efforts done in the past 10 years.

So cha-cha? One step forward, two steps back? I guess that’s where we are at this point.

For now, let us all find ways to please our clients from abroad and pivot to a more international business model that does not purely rely on other PH businesses. Because obviously, as of TODAY, the Philippine economy is in deep shit.

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