Promoting economic resilience in the times of pandemic
Every day, micro-retailers play a vital role by providing essential goods and services to their communities. Collectively, they are major economic drivers—even during the COVID-19 pandemic when they were hit hard by quarantine restrictions.
It is in recognition of the valuable contributions of these small retailers to the national economy that Coca-Cola Philippines, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and micro-financial institutions have come together to set up a P157-million bridge loan support fund targeted for sari-sari stores and carinderias.
Through a Rapid Retailers Assessment done by the Philippine Association of Store and Carinderia Owners (PASCO), Coca-Cola saw how these retailers scaled down or ceased operations, and experienced difficulties in sourcing inventory and much-needed capital.
With the help of DTI’s micro-financial arm Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), ASA Philippines Foundation, Inc. (ASA), and Alalay sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development, Inc. (ASKMSDI), the Retailer’s Rebuild Bridge Loan will be made available to 15,000 severely-impacted sari-sari stores and carinderias, so they can reopen and drive the availability of goods in their communities.
Securing MSMEs’ survival in the pandemic
The Retailer’s Rebuild Bridge Loan is one of the major components of the Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade (ReSTART) program, a multi-component initiative of public-private partners led by the DTI and Coca-Cola at the national level.
“There are a lot of factors to be considered in order to enable micro-retailers to get back on their feet during this difficult time. Addressing the financial needs of the micro-retailers who are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic requires a concerted effort of key partners, a strategic and targeted approach, and the implementation of a program that has long-term benefits,” said Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager.
“Seeing how the lack of access to capital is one of the critical issues facing micro-retailers today, we agreed that the provision of a bridge loan is the most beneficial action we can implement. This was designed to be accessible, with easy terms, and has an immediate impact to retailers,” he added.
The Retailer’s Rebuild Bridge Loan strategically augments current initiatives under SBCorp’s Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing program, in which loan assistance can come in 30% to 60% goods or ready-to-sell products and 40% to 70% cash combinations. This scheme will be interest-free for up to four loan cycles and with a very minimal service fee, which according to SBCorp President Luna Cacanando will “immensely help distressed MSMEs bounce back.”
Meanwhile, ASA Philippines is confident that the program beneficiaries will not only get back on their feet, but will also contribute to the local economy in the near future. “We believe this initiative will help the 12,817 micro entrepreneurs to reopen their business surely but safely in the ongoing pandemic crisis. We thank Coca-Cola and DTI for considering us as a partner to this worthwhile venture of rebuilding the nation in a trying time,” said Kamrul Tarafder, ASA Philippines Foundation Inc. President and CEO.
Safe Store Kits
Alongside the loan, “Safe Store” kits will also be provided to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, allowing for safer store operations. The micro-retail beneficiaries will also receive proper guidance and mentoring, so that they can be better equipped with the needed skills and know-how to navigate the crisis.
“Our partnership with DTI and Coca-Cola Philippines is a testament that real partnership is not only in good times but also during bad times,” says ASKMSDI Chairperson Rolando Victoria. “From focusing on disaster resilience in times of natural calamities, we now also turn our attention towards a global health crisis with an economic impact. We are fully committed to the success of the ReSTART project as we march to recover as one.”
Micro-retailers, sari-sari stores and carinderias in particular, are indispensable to the supply value chain of Coca-Cola, and the local economy as a whole. And the Company’s commitment to be instrumental to the sustainability of communities is easily empowered by its partners, who identify with the same cause and mission of Coca-Cola, such as DTI and microfinance institutions, who wholeheartedly work together to create programs such as that of ReSTART for the benefit of the greater good.