Over the past decade, the Philippines has experienced exponential economic growth and is currently poised for increased momentum. The Philippines Growth Dialogues is a collection of conversations we have had with CEOs, entrepreneurs and technology leaders to identify opportunities for the country to solidify its place as a global economic force. Many of the conversations predate the pandemic, but they remain relevant and vital—perhaps more vital than ever.
The COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered not just for the massive impact on lives and livelihoods around the world, but also as a major inflection point in how people live, work, and consume. The outlines of the next normal are crystalizing into view, yet much remains to be written. What is certain is that the economic future in the Philippines will belong to the Filipino business leaders who can best anticipate changing demands from consumers, the wider public, and their own employees to drive innovation and growth.
The sweet spot is likely to lie where the transformative power of global trends—especially those that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis—overlap with the unique economic, geographic, and social characteristics that shaped the country’s growth. Those forces have remained resilient throughout the pandemic and will continue to be important.
For instance, it’s well known that Filipinos are early adopters of technology. The conversations in the Philippines Growth Dialogues explore how technology and innovation will continue to shape the future, such as digital disruption in retail helping the next generation of entrepreneurs create and deliver new products and services in response to rapidly-evolving consumer tastes.
Yet the conversations also describe how Philippine companies have not yet fully embraced the ways in which technology can help them realize their full potential. With the COVID-19 pandemic driving an increasing number of consumers online, digital trends are supercharged. That’s creating enormous opportunities for Philippine companies that can leverage advances in technology to respond to changes in behavior to solve problems that are unique to the country.
Inclusiveness and opportunity remain key challenges. The middle class in the Philippines is growing fast, in part on the back of business-process outsourcing (BPO). A massive demographic dividend awaits as the country’s youth matures, but prosperity has not been evenly shared. Philippine businesses that can bring more people into the banking system or open access to education, healthcare, and jobs across the archipelago’s 7,600 islands will surge ahead.
With massive investment planned across the Philippines in everything from services to transport and urban infrastructure, the time is ripe for innovators to build their businesses as they continue building the country. The COVID-19 crisis has created an environment for businesses and governments that has never been more challenging—but that also means that the future starts now.
This anthology is a living document and we will update it as our conversations with local leaders forge new growth paths and shape a new normal for the Philippines.
COVID-19 has created a challenging environment for businesses and governments, but it also means the future starts now for leaders bold enough to overcome it.