According to a paper released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for roughly 99 percent of Filipino firms. However, those SMEs only account for 35 percent of national output–a sharp contrast with Japan and Korea, where the same ratio of SMEs accounts for roughly half of total output. This translates into far fewer high-paying jobs on the local level for Filipino employees and exacerbates the huge income disparity across the country.
From an article in The Atlantic. Especially interesting to me since I worked on a country-wide RCT testing the impact of increased access to credit for SMEs. It will be several more years until the results are available, but it seems clear that a greater focus should be centered on creating growth for SMEs and micro businesses in places like the Philippines.
For anyone compelled by the story of the present day Philippines, check out the recent award-winning movie Metro Manila. It gives an impressively realistic depiction of what life is like for so many of Manila’s 19 million people. One of my favorite films ever.