Of the initial 2400 submissions from over 122 countries, only 100 got
the chance to enter the finals and B2BPriceNow.com proposal is one of
them. The Development Marketplace 2001 event is scheduled on January
9-10, 2002 in Washington, DC.
Herbosa’s project proposal is “E-Commerce for Farmers” that intends
to enable the farmers to harness the benefits of information and
communication technologies (ICT) in order to promote development which
translates to poverty alleviation.
B2BPriceNow is an e-marketplace that offers a variety of free
services, designed to enable farmers, cooperatives, and other
participations in the marketplace to monitor price information, buy and
sell at the most competitive prices, and even pay electronically.
It also enables farmers to use simple short messaging system (SMS)
through their mobile phone to post or canvass up to the minute price
updates of their various products of interest. Price information of
selected products per region is uploaded on a regular basis by the
development assistance center or field offices of Landbank.
Incorporated in June 2000, the founders of B2BPriceNow infused
US$40,000 in initial operating capital. The biggest cost for this
e-marketplace project that comes from the private sector is the
technology and the marketing component. In order for the company to
lower its cost and have the least burn rate, Herbosa negotiated with UNISYS to own 5% of
B2bpricenow.com Inc. in exchange to being called its technical partner.
Hence he did not have to buy the programming and software for an
e-marketplace and do not have to pay for any administration, maintenance
and hosting charges on a monthly basis. He also negotiated with Ating Alamin,
the premier TV and radio program focused on agriculture, to own another
5%. Hence, B2BPriceNow.com advertisement spots in Ating Alamin TV and
radio show is free for the next 3 years.
A 21 key cities Agriculture E-Business Roadshow Program is
being conducted where they do the following activities: explain what is
e-commerce, show the benefits of participating in a free e-marketplace,
teach them on the what constitutes a computer: hardware and software,
hands on training on how to get access the internet, get their email
account and post and canvass at B2BPricenow.com. It has visited
provinces such as Cagayan De Oro City, Zamboanga City, San Fernando
City, Tagaytay City, Butuan City, Baguio City, Iloilo City, Bacolod
City, General Santos City, Davao City, among others.
“No amount of advertising can make cooperatives access the computer,
there will be a lot of hand-holding before they embrace a new technology
and the only way to do so is through a roadshow and regular training
which we’re doing with our strategic partners are doing,” Herbosa says.
Lessons leaned and advise Although Herbosa realized that
for this project to succeed, he needs to get the support of the
government, since they have the mandate and resource to inform and
educate farmers on the benefit of e-commerce. But he did otherwise. “We
decided that we should build this initiative without the government
since they will only slow us down. So the path we took is to get the
private sector involved with the project by making the e-marketplace
operational before getting the government involved through information
He also knew that for the government to financially support our
B2BPriceNow through information and education campaign, he has to
provide a free marketplace. “Otherwise, if we are charging subscription,
the government will not spend to inform and educate farmers to use our
marketplace against another agricultural e-marketplace that is also
charging subscription. If they do support us over our competitor, then
they can be accused of unjustly favoring us” Herbosa explained.
B2BPriceNow.com has foregone subscription fees so every Filipino can
access the site for free. At present, the site earns through
advertisement, SMS charges through Smart Communications and Globe Telecom, web
design and hosting fees, a share on the affiliate partner bank’s
settlement fees for online payment. The company is also tapping
international funding and grants available to support its cause.
The site’s purpose is now expanding as well from one industry to
multi-industry. From an agriculture commodity marketplace, it will soon
incorporate processed food and manufactured goods. This is a result of
its strategic partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry.
The B2BPricenow.com model is also plan to be transported to other
countries as well. Herbosa is preparing to position the e-marketplace to
engage in international trade by having multiple e-marketplaces in
DigitalFilipino.com wishes B2BPriceNow.com with all the luck and
hopes that it will earn its well-deserved place in the World Bank
Development Marketplace Global Competition.