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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

A Culture Of Empowerment: How SM Helps MSMEs Achieve Big Dreams

The commitment to assisting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a culture embodied by every business unit across the ecosystem of SM Investments Corporation (SM Investments).

The "SM" in MSMEs. Malcolm Gladwell (3rd from left) with (L-R): SM Supermalls’ President Steven Tan, SM Investments Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson, Wunderman Thompson Intelligence Global Director Emma Chiu, SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPHI) Chairman of the Executive Committee Hans Sy, and SMPHI President Jeffrey Lim I Photo: SM Supermalls

As SM celebrates its 65th year, its unwavering dedication to supporting this sector remains at the heart of its operations.

This commitment to supporting MSMEs is deeply rooted in SM's history, initiated by its founder, Mr. Henry Sy Sr., who began as a small enterprise with ShoeMart in 1958. As part of its mission to serve Filipino communities, SM upholds this legacy as it celebrates 65 years in the industry, emphasizing its journey with local businesses through the SM Supermalls' Tenant-Partners Summit.

"MSMEs are often regarded as the backbone of the economy," said SM Supermalls President Steven Tan. "To us, our MSME partners are the heartbeat of our malls. We are honored to be their partners, and we always strive to serve them better on our shared path to modernizing the retail landscape."

One of SM's many partners is Ms. Diannel Go. Her passion for the art of weaving led to the creation of BinibiniCo, a modern interpretation of traditional Filipino handicrafts. Her brand became one of the partners of the SM StartUp Market, one of SM's MSME support programs that assists online businesses in setting up shop in SM malls.

All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

In SM's StartUp Market, emerging businesses receive support in opening their very first physical stores at select SM mall branches. The package comes with start-up-friendly rates and the use of kiosks or carts free of charge.

"Actually, before, we were solely online," she said. "We had the chance to showcase our products, like the bayong, in a mall setting thanks to SM."

A passion that started with selling seven bayongs (Filipino bags made of woven leaves) to her neighbors is now located at SM City Santa Rosa, proudly representing Laguna with the motto, "Gawang Pinay para sa Pinoy" (Made by Filipina for Filipinos).

Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

SM's Support for MSMEs

In addition to support programs, SM also assists community-based businesses through partnerships with Kultura, an affiliate of the SM Group through its retailing arm, SM Retail Inc.

Ms. Ma. Evelina 'Beng' Atienza, co-founder of the Kababaihan ng Maynila Foundation, Inc., shared how SM has helped their group of women entrepreneurs unleash their talents in creating products close to every Filipino's heart—the Christmas parol, distributed at different branches of Kultura.

Entrepreneurship: Business woman smiling, working and reading from mobile phone In front of laptop in the financial district.

Not only do these parols enhance the festive season, but they are also sustainable, designed to be foldable and washable for use every year, all of which are conceptualized by the women creating the parols.

"SM has truly been of immense help to our women," she said. "Some of them face life's challenges and do not realize their talents. SM has been a cooperative and generous partner to our women."

Banking & finance: Business man in suit and tie working on his laptop and holding his mobile phone in the office located in the financial district.

She expressed the group's gratitude to SM, emphasizing the support they received from their loyal customer base and the established market. "The partnership has significantly improved their families' lives," she added. "As we grow with them, more of our members become generous and ask how they can support others."

Positive Community Impact and Commitment

Currently, 68 percent of SM Supermalls' tenants belong to the MSME sector, and SM serves as a marketplace for over 90,000 MSMEs nationwide.

Earlier this year, SM Investments Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson reiterated SM's commitment to continue initiatives in support of MSMEs.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

"Starting as a small enterprise ourselves, we recognize MSMEs as a driving force for innovation," she said. "They bring new ideas, new concepts, and new offerings to consumers. That's why we remain committed to supporting the growth and empowerment of MSMEs."

From its support for MSMEs to its responsiveness to community needs, SM has consistently advocated the philosophy of paying it forward. This practice endures not only within SM's 65th-anniversary celebrations but also in the decades to come and beyond.

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