Some 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderias were forced to close from March to April when the hard lockdown was imposed across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey.
Coca-Cola Philippines said in a statement that based on a rapid retailers assessment conducted by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO) from March to April of this year also showed that 49 percent of these pop and mom stores experienced difficulties in buying goods to sell, while 44 percent of them had to drastically downsize business operations by up to 90 percent.
To help these enterprises, Coca-Cola Philippines has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and two of the country's leading micro-financial institutions, to allocate and distribute P157 million in funds to more than 15,000 retailers whose enterprises were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and community quarantine.
The beverage company said that together with DTI, ASA Philippines Foundation, Inc. (ASA), and Alalay sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development, Inc. (ASKMSDI), have recently established ReSTART or Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade program.
The ReSTART program aims to introduce much-needed capital and resources through P10,000 loan packages to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), particularly sari-sari stores and carinderias, to help enable them to get back on their feet and sustain safe operations amid the pandemic. Fund managers ASA and ASKMSDI will take charge of the fund delivery to target beneficiaries.
The loan package comprises 60% goods and products and 40 percent cash, with up to four loan cycles with a 0 to 0.5 percent service fee to be availed. "Safe Store" kits for COVID-19 transmission prevention — consisting of a storefront plastic cover, reusable face mask, face shield, and a change/counter tray — will also be provided.
"Coca-Cola recognizes the significant role that micro-retailers play in helping sustain the Philippine economy and our business. For the past decade, we have been supporting partner sari-sari store owners through a holistic economic empowerment program; and we are determined to continue investing in them in the long run," said Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager. "This ongoing crisis does not change that commitment; rather it pushes us even to go beyond, ramping-up our support toward helping each other fuel the economy toward recovery—for their growth is the nation's growth, too," he added.
A rapid retailers assessment conducted by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO) from March to April of this year shows that 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderias were forced to close. It also shares that up to 49 percent of them experienced difficulties in buying goods to sell, while 44 percent of them had to drastically downsize business operations by up to 90 percent.
"Strengthening micro-businesses is one of the priority interventions of DTI, and the ReSTART program will be of great significance and of far-reaching benefit to our micro-entrepreneurs," said Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez. "Through the program components and their objectives, ReSTART will translate to the continuous recovery of the thousands of affected community-based micro-retailers, and in turn, to their employees and the general community around them."
Aside from providing funds, the ReSTART Program will also implement the "Safe Store Movement," with the help of DTI and Small Business Corporation (SBCorp). The thrust of the “Safe Store Movement”, which includes communication and education as two of its major components, is to promote safe store operations in the context of the next normal amidst the pandemic, focusing on the safety of retailers, customers and the community.
The movement entails dissemination of informational posters that will be installed in micro-retail and other relevant community-based businesses such as sari-sari stores and food outlets, online access to an open-source illustrated digital content with step-by-step guides on safety measures, and digital information drives on good store practices which will be implemented in all ReSTART partners.
The program will also provide access to online training and education through another program component called Safe Store Education on how to operate a retail business safely, in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Online learning modules focusing on retail business re-opening and management will also be made available to participants.
ReSTART is the latest initiative between Coca-Cola, DTI, ASA, and Alalay sa Kaunlaran to help micro-retailers recover amid the pandemic. Coca-Cola has previously partnered with DTI and the USAID on a rebuilding program for the communities severely affected during Typhoon Haiyan and Marawi.
Meanwhile, TESDA, ASA, and Alalay sa Kaunlaran are long-time partners of Coca-Cola in the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program—a long-running, multi-stakeholder partnership, which has economically empowered over 200,000 women sari-sari store owners and operators all over the country by providing access to training, resources, and peer mentoring support.