MANILA – Facebook Philippines has announced that it is growing its investments in the country, aimed at helping small and large businesses grow, as well as programs to foster a safe, positive and informed community for the more than 66 million Filipinos on Facebook each month.

“In today’s mobile world, people and businesses in the Philippines are embracing a digital take on the ‘bayanihan’ spirit, a traditional value that’s core to the Filipino culture of coming together to create progress and build community. Facebook is committed to helping the Philippines build for the future by helping businesses grow and in turn, contribute to the country’s economy – and working with local partners to help create a safe and informed community on Facebook,” said John Rubio, Country Director, Facebook Philippines.

Facebook spoke about its efforts to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) thrive through education programs that will give them the tools they need to succeed, as well as efforts to unlock growth for large businesses as they embrace mobile strategies. With nearly 87% of Filipino internet users using social networks[2], the Facebook Philippines team is focused on helping businesses better serve consumers, and drive growth, through social commerce and Messenger innovation.

“Businesses are embarking on the journey to digital transformation with the aim of unlocking growth opportunities and to better connect with today’s mobile-savvy Filipinos. In the Philippines alone, more than 50 million Filipinos are connected to an SME business Page on Facebook. Looking internationally, we’re also focused on helping businesses connect with the 130 million people living outside of the Philippines who are already connected to an SME on Facebook based in the Philippines. For large businesses, we also want to help them realize untapped potential across all touch points – from strategic partnership and insights, to conversational commerce on Messenger, to hands-on workshops and education,” added Rubio.

In the Philippines, Messenger is helping evolve the ways businesses interact, respond and get real-time feedback from their customers. For large Philippine businesses, Facebook is doubling down its efforts to help them address challenges in implementing digital strategies to embrace a mobile future and evolve their organizations. According to industry research, 86% of Filipino business leaders believe future growth is dependent on transforming their organizations into digital businesses; however, only 32% have a full digital strategy in place [4]. New data also revealed that in the Philippines, there is a $4 billion USD (approximately 208.9 billion PHP) growth opportunity [5], if businesses evolve their digital strategies to move faster, and build a more efficient experience for customers.

Facebook is also helping Filipino companies evolve the way they collaborate through Workplace by Facebook. Employees at Meralco, Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) and 7-Eleven are connecting on one platform, creating more efficient workflows and collaborating better. In turn, this helps them build a stronger company culture and enables employees to be more productive and feel connected to their companies.

Filipinos are actively building communities online to connect with each other, share interests and help others. People in the Philippines have created more than one million Groups on Facebook, including those that aim to create positive social impact.

Joining the event yesterday were Suzanna Pavadee Vicheinrut Yuzon, founder of the Miss Possibilities community on Facebook, which raises awareness about children with special needs, and empowers them by highlighting their talents and skills; Gina Romero, CEO and Founder of Connected Women, a community that promotes tech-powered entrepreneurship with training and networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs; Yoly Crisanto, Globe Telecom’s Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications, which launched Digital Thumbprint, a program that equips the youth with skills to think critically and act with empathy online; and May Layugan, Operations Center Manager of the Philippine Red Cross, which mobilizes a nationwide volunteer community for disaster response.

Facebook is committed to empowering Philippine communities through more local partnerships, programs and skills training initiatives:

  • Digital literacy initiatives: Facebook has partnered with local organizations to develop digital literacy programs promoting critical thinking skills that allow people to discern the authenticity and reliability of online information. This year, to celebrate Safer Internet Day, Mano Amiga held a Cybersafe Cafe activity where program participants showcased important learnings they gathered on various media literacy topics. The Cybersafe Cafe was the culminating activity for the pilot of the five-week digital literacy program developed by Mano Amiga, with the support of Facebook. The modules were developed consistently with the Department of Education’s learning competencies with reference from MediaSmarts materials. A series of pilot workshops with students, teachers, and parents are scheduled for the year to test out the modules in local communities. Last year, Globe and Facebook began the development of a workshop module that equips people with the skills to determine which online sources of information are authentic and reliable. Facebook is currently working with the Department of Education to integrate the modules into school curriculums to reach more students across the country.

  • Skills building for small and medium businesses: Facebook has partnered with Bayan Academy and the Department of Trade and Industry to provide digital marketing workshops for SMEs, aimed at helping them grow their businesses online. Since 2017, Facebook has conducted seminars for over 1,700 SMEs in seven cities. Facebook is expanding these training sessions to reach over 4,500 entrepreneurs in 25 cities across the Philippines in 2018.

  • Women’s entrepreneurship programs: Facebook will continue to grow the #SheMeansBusiness initiative, and work with partners, Connected Women and the Department of ICT, to empower women entrepreneurs with knowledge, training, technology and a network of peers for support. Since #SheMeansBusiness launched in 2016, Facebook has extended the program to seven cities in the country, and has reached more than 500 women entrepreneurs.

  • Disaster relief and support: In December 2017, Facebook activated a megaphone donation campaign in the Philippines for Typhoon Tembin. Facebook matched up to $500,000 in donations made through GlobalGiving to support relief efforts. Looking ahead, Facebook is currently building a feature that allows people in the community to directly share first-hand, timely, relevant and local disaster information (e.g. road closures, neighborhood updates, damage photos, etc). People in the affected area will be able to see, share and discuss information through videos, posts, photos and more, making it easier for them to find the information they need and come together to support each other in real-time.

  • Crisis response training: Facebook partnered with the Philippine Red Cross for full-day training sessions on crisis-response tools and provided them access to Facebook’s disaster maps data to support Philippine emergency response services. The maps will also be used by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), through the Office of Civil Defense, and by the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.

“Filipinos change mobile numbers very often, which is why at the Philippine Red Cross, we use Facebook Messenger to stay connected with all of our volunteers, providing us a faster and more efficient way to handle issues, including consolidating incident and response reports from all over the country. In times of crisis and disaster, we’ve turned to Facebook to get in contact with volunteers. Recently, in our disaster recovery operations for communities affected by typhoon Vinta (Tembin), we gathered over 200 volunteers who quickly mobilized to help, and provide us real-time updates from the ground through Facebook messenger,” said May Layugan, Operations Center Manager of the Philippine Red Cross.

[1] Source: Facebook Data, as of Q4, 2017
[2] Source: eMarketer, November 2017
[3] Source: Facebook Internal Data, as of May 2018
[4] Source: Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study, February 2017
[5] Source: Statista, eCommerce Revenue, The Philippines, April 2018