Digital Reporter

With bullets flying in the southern part of the Philippines and in other parts of the globe, are owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs)—whose money is bound to suffer if worse comes to worst—supposed to be scared?

No, says representatives of the Association of the Filipino Franchisers Inc. (AFFI) during the Pandesal Forum last June 13 at Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City.

“I think the economy of the Philippines will still grow because there is a lot of market outside, especially now that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has become a very powerful tool for us. There is a very big market outside the Philippines and there are millions of population outside that we can still serve,” said Teresita Lardizabal Ngan Tian, member of AFFI’s board of advisers and President of Lots’ A Pizza.

Ms. Ngan Tian added that positivity is key for business leaders to continuously flourish in the market.

“As entrepreneurs, we always have to be positive. Everything has to be positive no matter what challenges [we face]. That power in us of being positive about things gives us more strength [as we] encounter more challenges in the future and in whatever we do in our business,” she added.

Lots’ A Pizza, for example, eyes to expand its network of more than 100 franchises nationwide this year, focusing on provinces. “With expansion we create a better economy for the Philippines.”

Josephine Co See, AFFI’s vice‑president and President of World of Nuts Corporation, echoes the same sentiment.

“We’re looking forward to a growing Philippine economy,” she said. “We know that there is tension in Mindanao, but we should remain positive as entrepreneurs. We should not stop just because there are tensions in other regions.”

Micro, small, and medium enterprises account for 99.5% of establishments in the Philippines, according to a Department of Trade and Industry statistic . They will continue to contribute not only in the employment aspect, but also in the country’s financial gains with their government-mandated contributions, Ms. See added.

According to her, World of Nuts Corporation is adding nine to its currently 32 branches nationwide this year.

Ricardo Cuna, one of AFFI’s founders and the President of Milkin Corp‑Fiorgelato, said the growing number of AFFI’s member enterprises is a manifestation of the country’s continuously growing SME sector.

“SME’s are the foundation of the Philippine economy. Without the franchise sector, Philippine economy will not be that progressive,” Mr. Cuna said.

For Jerry Ilao, President of Ink All‑You‑Can, business leaders should always look for opportunities amid threats in the country’s business landscape.

“Whatever happens in 2017 and 2018, we should find opportunities and we should always thrive to grow our businesses,” Mr. Ilaw said. “Sure there will be challenges along the way, but that’s what being an entrepreneur is about. Entrepreneurship is being able to stand against all challenges and being able to conquer them.”