Over 300 participants from the business and government sectors, peoples organizations and non government organizations joined the Investment Conference.
“We have the idea that the region’s economy is doing well but the increase in poverty incidence belies that,” Lao said. Mindanao, he added, is the second largest island but it lags behind in terms of economy as shown by the fact that 16 of the 23 poorest provinces in the country are in Mindanao.
Lao said Mindanao’s insurgency problem is caused by lack of opportunities in the region that is why these people have to do something else instead of making a living.
“Let us throw away the parochial concept of investment because it is no longer economically profitable to grow everything in your backyard,” he said. Instead he added, people should develop the networking concept and the value chain concept of supply and demand.
He said it would be more viable for the island to work as a whole network group where one product is produced by another area, using resources from another area and similar networking arrangements.
Lao also urged the community to help promote small and medium enterprises citing the SME’s role in Davao City’s economic turn-around.
“The 36,860 business permits issued by the city of Davao last year is evident of the SME’s role in promoting development,” Lao said. He said the conduct of the Mindanao Investment Conference will hopefully equip SME’s with inputs to manage their businesses