Coca-Cola, DTI, other companies introduce Safe Stores Movement and Safe Stores Education programs

MANILA, 1 August 2020 — In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), have struggled to properly navigate the ongoing crisis. The operational and financial challenges are already a cause for concern, but at the same time, they also have to address the needs of their employees, customers, suppliers, and their immediate families.

These, along with other issues were shared by micro-retailers in a Rapid Retailers Assessment conducted by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO), which revealed that 42% of sari-sari stores and 75% of carinderias were forced to close during the lockdown while others had to drastically downsize their operations by up to 90%. The rapid survey also showed that there was an overwhelming feeling of “helplessness” due to lack of available information on how and when to safely and steadily reopen their business.

Through the Safe Stores Movement, Coca-Cola Philippines is committed to empower and support sari-sari stores and carinderias, providing them with online and on-premise safe stores operational information and customized training courses, to build the capabilities of store owners and educate consumers on practicing safety measures in the next normal retail business scenario.

Ever the partner and supporter of the value chain, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Coca-Cola Philippines, together with some of the biggest companies in the fast-moving consumer goods industry, and other stakeholders, organized the Safe Stores Movement and Safe Stores Education --  initiatives that will ensure that micro-retailers will be able to restart their business and safely navigate operations despite the crisis.

Through the Safe Stores Movement, Coca-Cola Philippines is committed to empower and support sari-sari stores and carinderias, providing them with online and on-premise safe stores operational information and customized training courses, to build the capabilities of store owners and educate consumers on practicing safety measures in the next normal retail business scenario.

A formidable public-private partnership to promote safe store operations

Joining Coca-Cola and DTI in the Safe Stores Movement are the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp); microfinance institutions ASA Philippines Foundation (ASA) and Alalay sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development, Inc. (ASKMSDI); and industry giants Unilever, Procter and Gamble (P&G), Suy Sing, and Smart Communications; with the support of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) and the Philippine Young Entrepreneurs Association (PYEA). Representing what is arguably one of the biggest public-private alliance to arise during the pandemic, this movement ensures that thousands of micro-retailers and small entrepreneurs who play a critical part in the delivery of basic goods to the communities will get all the support they need to get back on their feet and operate safely in the new normal.

The Safe Stores Movement aims to promote safe retail stores operations under the new normal. Its core component is the implementation of a communications program developed specifically for micro-retailers, following government-mandated guidelines, to educate and guide them on the proper conduct of business, with safety, first and foremost, in mind. To enable this, illustrated digital content with step-by-step guides were developed for online sharing, while information drives on good store practices social media assets and program partners will be implemented. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 stores will receive informational posters that present valuable information in an accessible manner from Coca-Cola sales force.

“We cannot overemphasize the importance of sari-sari stores and carinderias being key players in our value chain, as they move our beverages to millions of consumers,” said Winn Everhart, President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines. “With the ongoing crisis, we are motivated to continuously support them by enabling them to reopen their businesses in a safe and secure manner. One valuable way is through the provision of safe store materials that are based on government protocols—clear, easy to understand, and informative. We trust that these materials can help stores steadily and confidently welcome customers again.”

Unilever, P&G, Suy Sing, and Smart Communications have also committed to post the digital materials on their respective online platforms to reach even more sari-sari stores. They also agreed to place Safe Store posters in their partner stores and other establishments to disseminate much-needed information.

“The lack of access to information is one of the major difficulties that prevent micro-retailers from reopening,” said Ma. Luna Cacanando, SBCorp President. “By sharing knowledge and information, we can help small retailers to confidently and steadily navigate the uncertainties they face today.”

“Safe Store” kit for COVID-19 transmission prevention will also be provided, consisting of a front store plastic cover, and other protective gears. All these efforts were designed so that micro-retailers can have peace of mind while they resume operations during the pandemic.

“Adhering to strict standards of quality and safety has become all the more important as we face the new normal,” said Gareth McGeown, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines President. “We wanted to enable our valued micro-retailers with the right information which can help them jumpstart their business operations. By ensuring consistency in quality in both their products and services, and by ensuring a safe environment following mandated protocols, we can expect customers to steadily return and their business to slowly, but surely, thrive again.”

Continuous learning through Safe Stores Education

Supporting Safe Stores Education, meanwhile, are the DTI, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE).

With Safe Stores Education, the partners will develop comprehensive online learning modules that focus on retail business continuity and safe business operations. These will be delivered to micro-retailers through the eTESDA iSTAR program for e-learning and offline as well.

With knowledge gained from these modules, micro-retailers will be more business-savvy and armed with competencies that they can use to keep their store operations going and growing in the new normal.

Safe Stores Movement and Safe Stores Education are program components of the ReSTART or Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade program—which is anchored on a sizable P157 million support fund—the latest undertaking to help micro-retailers which stems from the deep-rooted relationship between Coca-Cola, DTI, and microfinance institutions since Haiyan Rebuild and Bangon Marawi in 2014 and 2019, respectively.

Coca-Cola Philippines and the Department of Trade and Industry have come up with communications materials to promote safe store operations in the new normal. These include digital content and posters which remind consumers to keep physical distancing, thoroughly wash hands, wear face masks, and use hand sanitizers when buying from their suking tindahan and carinderia.
The Safe Stores materials remind sari-sari store owners to follow government guidelines, adopt contactless transactions, provide a separate service area within their establishments, and advise customers to bring their own bags for take-out orders.
The Safe Stores materials remind carinderia owners to be careful of items they bring inside their establishments, regularly and thoroughly clean kitchen surfaces, and serve only food that is well cooked following hygiene standards.

About Coca-Cola in the Philippines

Coca-Cola has been refreshing Filipinos and making a difference in the Philippines for 108 years. The Philippines was Coca-Cola’s first market in Asia to begin local bottling operations. Today, the Coca-Cola system in the Philippines has evolved into a total beverage company, offering 19 brands in its beverage portfolio and employing over 10,000 Filipinos in over 19 manufacturing facilities and more than 70 distribution centres nationwide. As part of its long-standing commitment to the country, Coca-Cola continues to #GOBEYONDGOOD as a business by continuously supporting water replenishment programs in over 180 communities, empowering over 200,000 women entrepreneurs through training and peer mentoring, and accelerating packaging collection and recycling under its global World Without Waste initiative.