MANILA – Coca-Cola Philippines has initiated a micro-financing program worth PHP157 million to help community-based businesses like sari-sari stores and carinderia to restart their operation after being affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the community quarantine.
In a statement Thursday, Coca-Cola has partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), ASA Philippines Foundation Inc., and Alalay sa Kaunlaran Microfinance Social Development to establish the Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade (ReSTART) Program.
Under the program, sari-sari store and carinderia owners can borrow PHP10,000 worth of loan –60 percent goods and products, and 40 percent 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.
According to Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO), 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderia were forced to close from March to April as the government implemented the community quarantine because of the Covid-19 outbreak.
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.
Coca-Cola Philippines also partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for “Safe Store Education”, an online learning and education drive to train community-based business owners to operate retail businesses safely in the new normal.
Coca-Cola has initiated the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) program to provide livelihood in communities affected by the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
The program has benefited 200,000 women sari-sari store owners. (PNA)