Davao asked to support startup companies

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 Jan) – A member of the city’s community of startup companies said the city could benefit from supporting startup companies, especially since some of them are doing this for social entrepreneurship.

Dulce Lada, coordinator of the city’s startup community, suggested that the city encourage the creation of startups by relaxing tax laws, especially for companies still looking for funding agencies for their projects.

“The practice in Davao City is for the city to immediately tax starting companies even when they are just beginning,” Lada said.

She said companies in other countries such as Singapore relax their tax laws for starting companies to enable them to find funding and encourage collaboration.

“Some companies are given up to six months in other countries so that they can get on their feet and have some traction,” Lada said.

She added that the city’s permit application process, while relatively faster than other cities, could still learn from Singapore’s hours-long application.

Lada said that the city’s startup community comprises around 50.

Last week, the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) announced the creation of “The Cube,” a space where startups and individuals who are employed in online jobs can work and collaborate for a minimal fee.

Chamber president Antonio dela Cruz said the facility targets those who are tired of working in coffee shops just to get decent internet connections.

The companies are given unlimited internet access for the day for a minimal fee, with the facility located within the DCCCII building in JP Laurel.

Asked whether this was a trend, Lada said the city is actually lagging behind since the idea of startups was created in Silicon Valley in California, where companies like Facebook, Yahoo and Google first emerged.

“The Philippines is emerging as one of the key players of the startup scene,” Lada said.

Lada cited the success of startup projects Pagesnapp and iCalamity, which recently made tech headlines for besting other developers from around the Philippines.

“Startups are not just about profit, some of it is for social entrepreneurship and for developers to give solutions to regular problems,” she said.

The two application developers bested other web developers from other countries by writing code for an easy and user-friendly Facebook application development app and a calamity family locator app, respectively.

As part of their prize, the two teams will be flown to Silicon Valley to see for themselves what it is like to be in a “startup ecosystem” where ideas are freely shared.

The city government has recently said it wishes to interconnect all business transactions to stop corruption, through the city’s information technology center (CITC).

However, funding for the idea did not seem realistic, according to CITC data.

The city’s budget for the CITC, as of 2013, was P5 million, which includes an internet connection expense for the city government buildings totaling at least P1.8 million.

Capital outlay was P158,000, according to CITC officer-in-charge Ricarte Franco Jr.

Franco added that the appropriation for a point of payment software alone that would help with the interconnection was around P2.3 million.

Just this week, the city also revealed the names of five employees from the City Treasurer’s Office that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte dismissed from government service after finding the employees allegedly mishandled up to P14 million in government funds.