by Prof. Richard S. Celeste, MBM, REB, Chief, Entrepreneurship Training and Promotion Office
The clarion call for a lasting peace and progress in Marawi gave impetus to the MSU Technology and Innovation Center to host the first Marawi’s Best Trade Fair on August 27-September 1, 2019 at the MSU Peace Plaza with the main objective of providing a platform for local businessmen and student entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a wider market of potential customers. It is also a strategic move to help Mindanao State University in realizing one of its thrusts which is to strengthen and sustain its extension services.
The trade fair kicked off on August 27, 2019 as one of the highlights of the 58th Founding Anniversary of the University. Joining the Grand Opening Program was the Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary for Special Concerns Hon. Ameenah Abecede Fajardo as Guest of Honor who commended the MSU officials in gathering business leaders, alumni, students, faculty, staff and the entrepreneurial community for strengthening trade and business relations in order to sustain the economic growth of Marawi. The Assistant Secretary also shared the possibility of bringing the event in other areas particularly in Manila for a broader market reach.
Vice Governor of Lanao del Sur Hon. Mohammad Khalid “Mujam” Raki-in Adiong also joined the event and expressed his gratitude to the Mindanao State University for hosting a trade fair that will help the local entrepreneurs gain more income and promote their products. “The provincial government of Lanao del Sur is also working on programs and projects that will spur economic growth in the province and we are so glad that MSU is also committed to help the business community,” he announced.
The MSU System President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong also graced the occasion and delivered an inspirational message. “Responding to the call for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery of Marawi is indeed a herculean task but the MSU community joins hand in transcending peace and development efforts through quality education for global competitiveness,” he said. “This trade fair is very timely as this will strengthen the university’s commitment to facilitate market linkages and provide technical expertise to our MSMEs. This will also encourage entrepreneurial ventures among the students, faculty and staff of the university as they explore innovative and sustainable researches that will be transformed into actual products beneficial to Lanao del Sur constituents and the nation in general,” he added.
“By organizing Marawi’s Best Trade Fair, we hope to revive the vibrant economic and entrepreneurial activities of Marawi City before the siege,” said Dr. Cesar A. de la Seña, Vice Chancellor for Research, Extension and Development in his opening remarks.
“While it is very true that the university has been instrumental in making the City thrive and flourish, there still remains a great desire for a lasting peace and progress in Mindanao. It is a call for our collective action to empower the IDPs economically and financially,” said Prof. Richard S. Celeste, Chief of the MSU Entrepreneurship Training and Promotion Office. “We are just inspired with the famous saying on empowerment that goes “Give a man fish and he will live for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will live for a lifetime,” he added.
Also present in the grand opening program was Hon. Felix Castro Jr., HUDCC Assistant Secretary and Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office Manager who congratulated Mindanao State University for initiating Marawi’s Best Trade Fair as a significant event for Meranaw entrepreneurs.
The Director of Technology and Innovation Center, Bae Sarifa Sofia A. Macarambon-Ali, J.D. in her speech gladly thanked the MSU administration headed by the MSU System President Dr. Habib W. Macaayong, the 58th MSU Foundation Day Celebration Steering Committee Chairperson and MSU System Vice President for Administration and Finance Atty. Jamaloden A. Basar, deans, directors, faculty, staff, student and local entrepreneurs for their support, participation and cooperation that made the event very successful. She also expressed her gratitude to Hon. Yasser Alonto Balindong, Congressman, 2nd District of Lanao del Sur, to Hon. Akira Indol Alonto, Mayor of the Municipality of Marantao and Hon. Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr., Governor of the province of Lanao del Sur, Smart Communications, Incorporated and Jollibee Iligan for their sponsorship. She also mentioned the vital contribution of the 12th Civil Military Operations Battalion in setting up the venue.
The City Mayor of Marawi Atty. Majul U. Gandamra extended his congratulatory message to the Mindanao State University for coming up with the trade fair: “My heart swells with joy to be part of the first ever Marawi’s Best Trade Fair and I am thankful for the people who believe that there is no better way to celebrate the 58th year of MSU but to promote business incubation and innovation as well as empowering micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).”
“We joined the trade fair to establish linkages and to inspire our fellow Meranaws to explore weaving and handicrafts making because these depict the rich cultural heritage of the once vibrant Marawi City,” said Salika Maguindanao of Maranao Collectibles.
More exhibitors expressed their gratitude to MSU because the trade fair gave them the opportunity to earn more and connect with potential customers and buyers. “I hope that MSU will make this a regular activity so we could sell our products and have a sustainable livelihood,” expressed by one of the exhibitors.
The week-long Marawi’s Best Trade Fair culminated on September 1, 2019 but the real work of the MSU Technology and Innovation Center has just begun: helping local entrepreneurs find a new market; strengthening the platform to encourage more MSMEs to join; and building an entrepreneurship ecosystem towards sustainability.