A micro-financing program, worth P157 million, was initiated by Coca-Cola Philippines to help community-based businesses, like sari-sari stores and carinderia, to restart their operations after being affected by the coronavirus disease pandemic and the community quarantine.
In a statement yesterday, Coca-Cola said it has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry, ASA Philippines Foundation Inc., and Alalay sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development to establish the Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade or ReSTART program.
Under the program, sari-sari store and carinderia owners can borrow P10,000 worth of loan, with 60 percent in goods and products, and 40 percent in cash.
The loan can be provided in four cycles with only up to 0.5-percent service charge.
“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,” Coca-Cola Philippines president and general manager Winn Everhart said.
Everhart added the beverage firm will even ramp up its support to these community-based businesses during the pandemic.
The Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (Pasco) said 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderia were forced to close from March to April as the government implemented community quarantine because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pasco data also show that 49 percent of stores had difficulties in buying goods to sell and 44 percent of them downscale their operations by up to 90 percent.
The ReSTART Program also aims to help sari-sari store and carinderia owners to adapt to the new normal and implement health standards to prevent the spread of the virus.
Community-based entrepreneurs will also be provided with “safe store” kits, consisting of storefront plastic cover, reusable face mask, face shield, and a counter tray for money.
The program also implements “Safe Store Movement” in partnership with DTI’s Small Business Corp.
This promotes safe store operations through communication and education by disseminating informational posters focusing on the safety of the retailers, customers, and the community.
The firm also partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the United States Agency for International Development for “Safe Store Education”, an online learning and education drive to train community-based business owners to operate retail businesses safely under the new normal.*PNA