MAP Insights

And what I mean by small is being a small business. I was just listening to a webinar by top-notch supply chain executives, and, to quote one of the speakers (Tonet Rivera, formerly of Mead Johnson), he said: SMEs rock! I was tickled pink and wish he saw me raise my hand for a high five.

The other panelist, my PASIA idol Charlie Villaseñor, was more direct: “Many SMEs will collapse as well as medium and big companies,” Charlie says. Uh-oh I thought, “where are the scale up advocates?” Now everyone is saying, it’s good to be small.

I must admit I used to feel insecure talking with and listening to executives whose only solution was Scale: “If a business is not scale-able, it will not be profitable or worth the effort,” they used to say. I would keep quiet because I never planned to scale up ECHOstore, our little social enterprise. I told my partners, we would have a few stores and then go online, and retire. Now, it’s not happening in succession, but is happening simultaneously. I feel retired, we are online and I am managing a store… the way we started 12 years ago.

Be proud you are small. Here’s why:

1. Small is nimble and agile. You do not have many layers in the organization. It’s you and the rest of the staff. No thick middles.

2. Small can accept change easily. It’s just you, a few partners and your customers.

3. Small can accept failure and rise again. You are not a public company. You do not need to explain to shareholders in a general meeting and see your stocks take a nosedive.

4. Small is now the sustainable model.

So MSMEs, rise up. We can do this!!! Count the number of times we fell and brushed our knees and started to walk again.

And to those who thought Scale was the answer to everything, it’s time to eat humble pie and start to downscale.

The new NORM will be:

1. LOCAVORISM — We have been talking about buying local since Day One. Buy supplies from as local a source as possible. It’s not cost alone, it’s helping small businesses have a steady market. (We are now buying locally sourced ingredients because imports will be difficult to sustain.)

2. SHORTER SUPPLY CHAIN — Now you know who is cooking what and where; they know the farmer who will deliver their vegetables (Ex: farmer Rafael Teraoka Dacones to a customer in Manila.)

3. TRANSPARENCY — Prices will be a clear deal between seller and buyer. Who pays for delivery? May I return bad fruits and replace them? Gladly, sellers do!

4. HYPERLOCAL “PUSH” MARKETS — They show you their products and you need not search online. You find them on Viber chats of your community groups.

5. SLOW FOOD — It’s happening now. Processed food and fast food are hit hard and people are forced to cook at home, discovering their old recipes, teaching their kids how to eat well.

6. PLANT YOUR OWN FOOD — People thought we were nuts to plant our own food 10 years ago. Now, the very agency tasked with food security is asking us to plant, plant, plant.

So, let’s embrace this change, from large scale to small scale. From impossibility to possibilities. And be mighty proud, you are small.

Welcome to our new small world.

This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or the MAP.


Pacita “Chit” U. Juan is a member of the MAP Inclusive Growth Committee, is President of the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc., and runs a social enterprise called ECHOstore.