The Assistant Regional Directress of DTI Region VII reached out to me a few months back to talk about better engaging the local startup community and working together on planning government programs that more effectively assists the growth of tech startup entrepreneurs. This gave rise to the Community+ Government monthly meetup – an open discussion between grassroots tech and startup community leaders and their government counterparts on how to better work together to further enrich our local tech startup ecosystem.
During our last meetup, DTI and DICT shared to us the various methods we could use to improve our requests for support for the tech community events we organize to the government. To better define “requests for support”, this refers to the proposals and letters we send to the government offices we would like to engage. As an additional note, this is an effort by local government representatives to work with is so they can better represent our causes in meetings with their counterparts in higher positions.
Tip 1: Name your events in your proposal into something straightforward.
For example, in the government’s budgeting papers, “Geeks On A Beach” is listed as “International Conference To Showcase Tech Startups Supported By The Philippine Government”. It is long, but it is something people in government understand at first glance.
Tip 2: Specifically state who your target market is.
For both government departments, their target is to help either Startups or MSMEs (brick and mortar Medium Small Micro Enterprises), depending on their agenda for the year. Telling them which market you are serving will give them an idea if you align with their agenda.
#Protip: DTI generally wants events that “result in the development and growth of all online or offline businesses”
Tip 3: Add in your proposal the “curriculum” of your event.
If it is a workshop, what are the topics to be tackled? If possible, describe each and state who the speaker is and attach their credentials.
Tip 4: Getting support that is worth more than P50k is hard.
DICT says that proposals should be sent to them 1 month to 2 years before the day of the event. DTI says that they can accommodate proposals 3 months before the day of the event but it depends on what resources they have available. Send your proposals as complete as they can be as early as possible.
Note that both government agency rarely dole out cash support for initiatives which leads us to the next tip…
Tip 5: Know that government can support in other ways aside from cash sponsorship.
They can pay for participant tickets, they can pay for food, they can offer a free venue or internet, they can provide transport and so on. So note what other areas you need support in in your proposal.
And lastly, they value it so much more if the proposal came from someone they trust. So they encourage that you either meet with them in events or schedule meetings with them or send them a message on Facebook to request for a face-to-face meeting. Also, connecting to the last tip, this meeting with them will help them identify what resources they have available to be able to give support to your event or program in a way that possibly you, the event organizer, couldn’t foresee so be open and try to engage in dialogue with your government representatives as often as you can.
DICT Visayas Cluster 2 encourages community members who have proposals to email their officials engaged in community support (currently it’s firstname.lastname@example.org ) or their office email which is VC2DICT.IIDB@gmail.com
They need two documents from community members to start the proposal process. These are the Letter of Intent and the Activity Design documents. The Letter of Intent gives them a brief overview of the proposed project and who the requesting party is. It’s in this document that basic information must be provided. Often times, this document is a one-pager.
Letter of Intent should contain:
- Community Member’s Name, Email and Contact Number
- Community Member’s Organization / Affiliation
- Brief description of the Organization
- Address of the Organization (if applicable) or Social Media page
- Name of Project
- Target City / Municipality of Venue
- Target Date — Make sure that the activity or project is at least 2 months ahead from your submission.
- Brief description on what the event is about, for who and what kind of support from DICT VC2 is needed.
The Activity Design document is now your opportunity to explain your event further. This document has various sections enumerated below:
- Title of Activity
- Overview of the Activity
- Target City / Municipality of Venue
- Target Date
- Duration of the Event / Program
- Overview of the Project
- Target Beneficiaries
- Justification — Justify why you need such help or provide us reasons why DICT VC2 should prioritize your request.
- Expected Outputs
- How will the activity or program be executed?
- What are the activity milestones (if any)?
- Target Participants
- Program Schedule — be as detailed as possible. If there are speakers, please include the bio of the speaker as well.
- Budgetary Requirement
- Specifications of Needs / Assistance — Tell them the specific help you need from DICT VC2. Specify whether this is financial, in kind, DICT Conference Room as venue, etc. If financial, tell them the exact amount you need.
- If you have a breakdown of the would-be expenses, it would be good to add them here.
- “Prepared By” Information
Here are some templates that I and other community builders have used to make it easier for us to file the required paper work to make it easier for our government counterparts to process our requests:
On top of all this, another very important point was made during the discussion: local departments cannot simply enact their own processes that differs from the operations agreed on by the national committee unless there are laws that justifies the local department’s change. This point was made when a founder expressed the many challenges he had to face to have his business registered and he wanted the officials present to improve this process as soon as possible. He isn’t wrong and the government representatives present agreed with him, but they had their hands tied. Representatives explained that even they need the Innovative Startup Act signed (Update: It’s signed!) so that they may be able to change their operations to better serve the startup entrepreneurs (like, say, being open on Saturdays), and at the same time, not be questioned by their superiors; but for now, they offered alternatives and tips on how to go around or expedite the current processes and it was nice to see them do their best to share these options to the community face-to-face.
After these points were shared, I was happy to see an understanding grow from the community’s perspective on the challenges their local counterparts face and what these same representatives are doing about it. Sure, the government could be better overall, but it was humbling to see decision makers of our local government show up and have a dialogue with grassroots community leaders. It even more amazing to see them commit to this on a monthly basis.
I’ll continue to share what I learn as we have more of these meetups but hopefully this series will make us, community leaders, be more aware of the part everyone plays (or the part everyone can play) in building our ecosystem for the better.
If you’re in the Cebu area, feel free to follow this page for more announcements on the next Community+Government event.