Most micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) face the same challenges—how do you network with other business owners? How do you get reliable suppliers? How do you contact potential partners? These are the pain points that the UnionBank GlobalLinker tries to address.
Introduced by the Union Bank of the Philippines, UnionBank GlobalLinker is a free and innovative platform that helps MSMEs grow online with tools for efficient business management and network expansion. It is available on the Google Play Store and Apple Store.
This is just one of the many efforts of the bank to create digital platforms for business growth, especially targeted at MSMEs. Before GlobalLinker, UnionBank’s UREKA Forum converted 1,500 MSMEs into digital commerce—the country’s biggest e-commerce mass conversion program.
James Ileto, VP and head of Public Relations Affairs and UREKA, said that they literally held hands with SME owners from start to finish.
“We listened to them in their journey. Some of the insights they got, ‘If we want to connect with other suppliers, where do we go?'” Ileto said.
UnionBank Vice President and UnionBank GlobalLinker Lead Proponent Dino N. Velasco said that they are strongly committed to empowering MSMEs in the Philippines by providing business solutions and other opportunities that meet their needs.
“Now we are going a step further through UnionBank GlobalLinker, an innovative digital platform that helps entrepreneurs efficiently manage their businesses. When MSMEs have access to this digital platform, it won’t be long before they find themselves in the global scene,” Velasco said.
The GlobalLinker experience
Business owners who wish to link with likeminded people and entrepreneurs like them simply need to go to the website. To make sure that people who are signing up in the website are legit business owners, Velasco said that the platform uses several verification procedures, including requiring them to submit relevant documents and asking them to sign up using a business email address. The first person in a company who will sign up will be asked for these requirements, which is mandatory before they can start using the services, Velasco told Entrepreneur Philippines.
Succeeding employees who also wish to be part of the network need only be approved by the admin or the first person in the company who signs up.
“The admin has to be part of your organization. Usually it’s the owner of the business and he can invite his employees,” Velasco said.
After that, business owners can start using the different features of the website. Built similar to social media websites, GlobalLinker also has a News Feed where they can get updates from their network. One of the most important features is the Network itself, where MSME owners can link with other business owners who may be their potential supplier, partner or customer. They may find providers of products and services that can help their business.
UnionBank GlobalLinker is a free and innovative platform that helps MSMEs grow online with tools for efficient business management and network expansion
News, articles and discussions on industry developments are posted on Biz Forum and it also provides opportunities for entrepreneurs to promote their own products and services.
Another unique feature is the Biz Offers where partners of GlobalLinker, as well as its network, offer discounts or rates exclusive to its members. Since GlobalLinker has members from all over the globe, users can expect international offers and global partnerships.
Business tools and solutions
Building a personalized e-commerce store for free is possible inside the website using the LINKER.store. In just five easy steps, entrepreneurs can build an online store that come with inventory management and data analysis tools, which can help make smarter data-driven decisions.
When companies enroll in the platform, they also get a storage service called eBriefcase where they can upload word files, spreadsheets and slides. These files can be shared between users of the platform. Members can enjoy up to 1GB of free space while companies have an overall cap of 4GB.
UnionBank GlobalLinker also has a built-in calendar that helps users set meetings. The calendar lets users view the availability of their links and set recurring weekly or monthly meetings.
For financial services, there is also a page where users can sign up for UnionBank’s different services such Savings and Checking Account, loans, credit cards and more.
Open to professionals, freelancers
MSMEs make up 99.57 percent of Philippine establishments and it’s about time someone pays attention to them, according to Summi Gambhir, DigiVation co-founder and chief experience officer, who also helped launch GlobalLinker in other parts of Asia. Because of her and her team’s efforts, there are about 155,000 entrepreneurs in the network.
“We observe how SMEs are important in every economy. Then how come they’re the most underserved segment?” she asked.
Before GlobalLinker, UnionBank’s UREKA Forum converted 1,500 MSMEs into digital commerce—the country’s biggest e-commerce mass conversion program
Meanwhile, Mary Joyce Gonzalez, EVP and head of Retail Banking Center of UnionBank, acknowledges the need of MSMEs to digitize to survive.
“Brick and mortar stores aren’t enough. SMEs should adapt to brick and click,” she said.
One of the organizations who have followed this advice and joined GlobalLinker is Taxumo, an online tax filing platform for freelancers, small business owners and self-employed professionals in the Philippines. EJ Arboleda, the CEO of Taxumo, said that they joined the network to get to know their customers more.
“We wanted to know how to improve Taxumo for them,” he said.
Aside from small business owners, he also encouraged freelancers and registered professionals to sign up in the network.
“You’re basically a business just like the other organizations and one nice thing about signing up as a registered professional is that a lot of businesses are looking for freelancers. They just don’t know how to look for freelancers who can provide the proper documentation like official receipts,” he told Entrepreneur Philippines.
“So if you’re able to show yourself as a legit entity, you’re on the platform, you’ll be the first choice,” Arboleda added.
Velasco seconded this, saying that the shift to digital technology can be challenging for both freelancers and MSME owners.
“Through UnionBank GlobaLinker, we make them our partners in our pursuit of innovation, he said. “We look forward to seeing more MSMEs grow on UnionBank GlobalLinker and reach their full potential.”
Nicai is the marketing head of Rising Tide, a technology solutions company. She is also the Manila Bureau Manager of Probe Media Foundation's Mulat Pinoy-Kabataan News Network and a regular contributor for SPOT.ph. Follow her on Twitter, @nicaideguzman, and LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicaideguzman