Flying to Singapore with a purpose: My experience at TradeConnect

Flying to Singapore with a purpose: My experience at TradeConnect


Rhea Suzette Haguisan

Rhea Suzette Haguisan

285 week ago — 6 min read

Traveling somewhere for free is always a dream! It’s being lucky enough to be chosen to go to a place and experience it with all its beauty. Doing touristy things would surely be on top of the list. But not this time for me, and it was definitely worth it.

For that, I would like to thank UnionBank GlobalLinker for giving me this rare opportunity to not only travel to Singapore for free, but also to learn new things and to return back with a greater purpose.

UnionBank GlobalLinker
 was generous enough to send out 25 Philippine delegates to Singapore to attend TradeConnect, a GlobalLinker initiative. TradeConnect aims to bring business owners from different countries and varied industries to interact and explore collaboration and find ways towards promoting cross-border trade opportunities.

GlobalLinker was created with a clear goal in mind - to serve as a free global digital platform for MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). This is a great platform to link with potential suppliers, customers and even future partners here in the Philippines and abroad.

“Going online is the first major step for businesses to thrive on digital, but another thing that entrepreneurs should consider is the extent of efficiency that their tools deliver for them. That is why we made UnionBank GlobalLinker - that single destination where they can be productive in the way they interact with colleagues and make use of online business solutions,” said UnionBank Vice President and UnionBank GlobalLinker lead proponent Dino Velasco.

When I was chosen as one of the 25 delegates from the Philippines, I couldn’t be happier. UnionBank GlobalLinker gave us our itinerary and it was truly jam-packed. But I was not complaining as I knew that I was not only representing my business, but also the country, at an international stage at that.


November 13 - Arrival in Singapore


TradeConnect delegate

We started with an early morning flight on November 13 from Manila to Singapore via Singapore Airlines. After safely arriving in Singapore, we were ushered to the Singapore FinTech Festival 2018 - a gathering of FinTech companies from different parts of the globe. The participants of the event are startups, technology companies, investors and the like. This is by far the largest exhibition I had been to with a wide array of displays, products and innovations all in one room.  

We were also given a tour to the booth of UnionBank where they presented their innovations and what we can expect from them in the future. I was impressed as they have been doing things for their consumers’ convenience all at a touch of a button. This is my first time seeing a bank that embraces countless innovations from blockchain to logistics and to creating an online platform for MSMEs.


 UnionBank Booth

After the quick tour at Singapore FinTech Festival 2018, we were ushered to our home for the next days.  UnionBank provided one room for each participant and they showered us with a lot of Unionbank GlobalLinker goodies.

Come dinner time, we were able to meet the key personnel behind UnionBank. I got to meet Mr. Edwin Bautista, Executive Director, President and  CEO of UnionBank; Dr. Justo Ortiz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UnionBank; and other eminent industry leaders. I also got to meet the rest of the delegates.

November 14 - TradeConnect
This would be the “WHY” of our Singapore trip. We went back to the Singapore FinTech Festival venue and headed over to the dedicated room for the TradeConnect event

TradeConnect speakers

Industry leaders committed to SME growth were at the forefront of TradeConnect. Mr. Belson Coutinho, Senior Vice President Marketing, eCommerce and Innovations of Jet Airways, talked about creating a digital roadmap for growing businesses; Dr. Ajay Sahai, Director General and CEO of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO), spoke about business growth through cross border trade in a connected world; and Ms. Serene HO Fung Ying, Director of Singapore Customs Networked Trade Platform Office, shared an overview of Networked Trade Platform and its digital connectivity efforts in enhancing cross border trade.


TradeConnect speakers


But it didn’t stop there. We also got to witness India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he shared FinTech developments in the country and their efforts in connecting MSMEs in India thanks to the GlobalLinker platform.


India's Prime Minister 

The rest of the day was followed by a lot of networking among fellow entrepreneurs not only in the Philippines but also in India. More than just business cards, we got to share business ideas and opportunities.

These two days were packed with a lot of learning and opportunities. I can say that Philippine MSMEs can be at par with the rest of the world if only we have the bridge that can connect us in reaching that goal. This is where the bridge, Unionbank GlobalLinker comes in.

Big thanks to Unionbank GlobalLinker for this wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity! My heart and my brain are filled with knowledge and endless gratitude. I know this will not stop here, but rather is just the beginning of empowering us and other MSMEs to be ASEAN-ready and global-ready.

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