The commitment to helping micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a culture every business unit embodies across the ecosystem of SM Investments Corporation (SM Investments). As SM celebrates its 65th year, its unwavering commitment to supporting this sector remains at the heart of its operations.
This dedication to supporting MSMEs is rooted in SM’s history, initiated by its founder, Mr. Henry Sy Sr., who began as a small enterprise with ShoeMart in 1958. In its commitment to serving Filipino communities, SM upholds this legacy as it marks the celebration of 65 years in the industry, highlighting its journey with local businesses by holding 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 in our shared path to modernizing the retail landscape.”
One of SM’s many partners is Ms. Diannel Go. Her love for the art of weaving led to the creation of BinibiniCo, a modern take on traditional Filipino handicrafts.
Her brand became one of the partners of the SM StartUp Market, one of the MSME support programs of SM that offers to help online businesses set up shops at SM malls.
In SM’s StartUp Market, budding businesses are assisted 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, online lang kami,” she said. “Nagkaroon kami ng chance ma-ishowcase yung mga products namin like yung bayong sa mall setting dahil sa SM.”
(Actually, we only had a presence online back then. We were able to have the chance to showcase our products like the bayong in the mall setting because of SM.)
A passion that started with seven bayongs (Filipino bags made of woven leaves) that she sold 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)
SM’s support to MSMEs
In addition to support programs, SM also helps in backing 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 realize their talents in creating their products that are close to every Filipinos’ heart—the Christmas parol, distributed at different branches of Kultura.
Not only do they liven the festive season, but these parols are sustainable since these are designed to be foldable and washable, which can be easily used every year, all of which are conceptualized by the women creating the parols.
“SM has really helped our women greatly,” she said. “Yung iba kasi hirap sa buhay, di nila nare-realize that they have talents. And SM has been such a cooperative and generous partner to our women.
(For some of them because of life’s challenges they don’t realize their talents.)
She expressed their group’s gratitude to SM, emphasizing the support they received from their loyal customer base and the established market.
“The partnership is a huge help to their families,” 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
At present, 68 percent of SM Supermalls’ tenants belong to the MSME sector. 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.
“Starting as a small enterprise ourselves, we recognize MSMEs as a driving force for innovation,” she said. They are the ones who bring new ideas, new concepts, and new offerings to the consumers. That’s why we remain committed to supporting the growth and empowerment of MSMEs.”
From its support to MSMEs, to listening to the needs of the community, SM has always advocated the philosophy of paying it forward. This practice lives on not only within SM’s 65th year festivities, but also in the decades to come and beyond.