One of the many reasons why local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) cannot level up to improve the marketability of its products and enhance its processes is mainly because of the lack of funds to upgrade its facilities, acquire new equipment, and implement technological recommendations of experts but it is not for the reason that the local MSMEs do not want to adopt new technologies. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) financial assistance through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program Innovation-Enabling Fund (SETUP iFUND) was implemented to address the needs of our local MSMEs. The program is one of the cornerstones of DOST’s major program for assisting MSMEs. The financial assistance is not a grant but it is given as a technology transfer support mechanism to MSMEs where they will refund back to the government the amount given to them.

The Antique Development Foundation (ADF) Inc. and JAPS Bakeshop in the province of Antique recently received the Certificate of Transfer of Ownership for completing the refund of the government’s financial assistance in adopting technological innovations through the SETUP iFund of DOST VI.

SETUP is a DOST flagship program that aims to assist the MSMEs to produce quality products, increase productivity, and sustain marketability through technology and equipment upgrading and strengthening of innovation capability. The SETUP iFund, in particular, is a mechanism provided to selected and qualified enterprises so that they can upgrade their production facilities, improve their products through a simple R&D for additional product variance, among others.

The project entitled, “Upgrading of Production Facilities of Antique Development Foundation (ADF)” has allowed the beneficiary to upgrade its operation with the equipment availed through SETUP iFUND – washer, juice extractor, pulverizing machine, form fill seal machine, and the juice evaporator. The equipment allowed ADF to expand its operation into ginger processing. Likewise, the product research and development training has added seven more ginger product variants namely, plain ginger brew, ginger with lemongrass, ginger with calamansi, ginger honey juice, ginger granules, ginger chum, and ginger in tea bags.

The JAPS Bakeshop also completed its repayment of financial assistance for the procurement of baking equipment to improve its products and processes. The bakery started producing pandesal to supply the barangays in San Jose, Antique. From there the bakeshop produced several types of bread until its market expanded and the business flourished. JAPS Bakeshop now maintains two display centers at the Trade Town in San Jose and Sibalom, Antique.

The DOST services include technology trainings, consultancy services, ranging from food safety to product packaging and product improvement. Because of the pandemic, DOST further heightened its support to the MSMEs by adopting the strategies to the conditions of the new normal, delivering a lot of its services virtually using the online systems. (SSalazar/DOST VI)