Increased business productivity and job creation are but two of the many benefits of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program or SETUP, a longstanding enterprise development and technology transfer initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

“SETUP, a development program to empower the micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs, creates a conducive business environment for MSMEs to improve their productivity and increase efficiency through the infusion of appropriate technologies”, said DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo.

On the average, the DOST-SETUP program assists some 3,000 MSMEs all over the country every year. For the first semester alone, from January to June 2015, a total of 1,236 firms have been given assistance.
The ripple effect of the DOST-SETUP program resonates to job creation with 20,985 new jobs generated just for the period January to June 2015. From 2010, when the Aquino Administartion began, up to end of the second quarter of this year, a total of 115,445 new jobs were already created.

The program uses a holistic approach to enterprise development by covering all aspects of operating and managing a business in order to improve their products, services and/or operations.
The DOST intervention, through SETUP, includes human resource training; technical assistance and consultancy services; design of functional packages and labels; and assistance in the establishment of product standards, including testing, database management system and technology acquisition.

“Firms assisted with technologies are capacitated and become more productive, competitive (locally and globally) and bankable, thus, empowering more our MSMEs as they participate into the mainstream of business activity,” stated Montejo.

“This is the only government program assisting MSMEs that gives back refunds to the Bureau of Treasury”, Montejo added.
To ensure a high rate of refund by beneficiaries and to uphold transparency and professionalism, SETUP proposals are strictly evaluated by the Regional Technical Evaluation Committee (RTEC) composed of a battery of experts/practitioners from industry, universities and professional organizations. They asses the managerial, technical and financial capability and viability of the beneficiaries/proponents to take on S&T interventions for sustainability.

According to DOST Undersecretary for Regional Operations Carol M. Yorobe, the DOST Regional Offices ensure that funds released to proponents are used for the purpose for which the project was approved and conducts regular due diligence to secure the viability of the project.

DOST Regional Offices release the fund directly to the supplier when equipment have been procured. In other instances, the release of funds is done through the bank who in turn releases it only to the proponent when the required equipment to be procured is already available for delivery. There are also measures in place to address the risk in such transaction.
“The program’s monitoring system follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance by proponents and allow the enforcement of the provisions stated in the memorandum of agreement (MOA)they sign before assistance is given,” Yorobe stressed.

DOST’s regional and/or provincial officers and staff regularly visit the projects and monitor its progress as to the proper utilization of S&T interventions, and correspondingly make the necessary improvements, when needed, in systems or in the use of the equipment or the technology to obtain the desired productivity.

Just like other banking and development assistance institutions in the country, the DOST-SETUP has its share of delinquent accounts for there is no perfect system that could guarantee 100% refund rate from its borrowers.
“I believe that there is no other program in the country that focuses on improving productivity of MSMEs through technology intervention. Overall, our refund rate runs about 85%; but we don’t give up on MSMEs that encounter difficulties to ensure higher compliance”, Montejo Stressed.

In few cases of proponents falling short of expectation, the DOST-SETUP implements a restructuring program, just like ordinary banks, of their refund schedules within the allowable time period.
Further, Montejo assured, “For opponents who fail to abide by the MOA provisions, the appropriate legal actions are pursued in accordance to existing rules and regulations.”

From 2010 to June 2015, the DOST-SETUP has already recorded a total funding assistance of P2.2 billion with 29,401 technology interventions provided to MSMEs mostly in the regions. These interventions include consultancy services, human resource training, packaging assistance, design and labeling, among others. (S&T Media Service)