(Photo courtesy of DOST)

MANILA – For the first half of 2021, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has already assisted 28 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Bicol Region, Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said Friday.

In a taped report, he said a total of PHP28 million was used to assist these MSMEs through the agency's Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program's (SETUP) innovation-enabling fund.

SETUP aims to encourage and assist the MSMEs in adopting technological innovations to improve their products and operations. With this program, the DOST helps them by providing a loan that is payable in three years.

The DOST also provides training, and other assistance such as helping the MSMEs purchase the right equipment they need for the business.

De la Peña said majority of the 28 MSMEs are in the food processing sector, while about 32 percent of them are into metals and engineering.

Some 18 percent belong to the agricultural sector, and about 3 percent are into gifts/decors/handicrafts. The others, he said, belong to industries such as ICT (information and communications technology) and garments.

"We will also provide them with scientific and technological services, such as (on) food safety and assistance for them to comply with regulatory and market standards, including laboratory testing," he said.

The DOST chief added that the MSMEs are enjoined to help their community, by providing employment, for instance.

"We will continue to support more MSMEs in the Bicol Region so they can improve production efficiency and product quality," he said. (PNA