EASTERN VISAYAS NEWS – A revitalized local economy awaits Leyte as more than 300 women sari-sari store (small retail store) owners completed a six-month business skills training course that transformed them into smarter entrepreneurs.
The training is part of “Project Bagong Araw,” a sari-sari store rehabilitation program for communities affected by typhoon Yolanda. Implemented by Hapinoy, Project Bagong Araw supported store owners in Tanauan, Palo, Javier, and Tacloban City with funding assistance from Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and other companies.
The project was capped off by the graduation of 348 mothers at the Apostolic Center in Tacloban City. It was attended by the project’s partners, including PBSP executive director Rafael Lopa who stressed the importance of supporting micro-enterprises, especially the sari-sari stores, which he calls the “haligi ng komunidad.”
“Napakahalaga na gamitin natin ang ating mga tindahan para ang ating mga kababayan na nahihirapan pa ring bumangon pagkatapos ng Yolanda ay magkaroon ng lugar na kung saan makakabili ng mas murang bilihin (It’s important that we use our stores to provide those who still find it hard to rise up and move on after Yolanda, a place where they can buy cheaper products.),” Lopa said.
Through the business training, the women were provided new skills in managing a business such as basic record-keeping, business planning, mobile literacy, and credit management, among others.
“Maraming nakikinabang dahil inayos ninyo ang inyong mga tindahan at inyong mga bilihin (Many are benefitting from your newly-renovated stores and newly-organized products.),” he added.
Beneficiaries also received access to capital loans worth PhP10,000.00 and underwent store makeovers.
Through PBSP, Project Bagong Araw was able to assist 79 sari-sari store owners who were about to complete the repayment of their loans. Lopa said this was a sign that the owners are taking the project seriously.
According to him, the repayments will go back to a credit facility called the Micro Enterprise Disaster Assistance Fund for Resiliency, also called the MIDAS fund. It aims to provide lending capital to 25,000 Yolanda-affected micro-entrepreneurs made available through micro-finance institutions (MFIs).
The MIDAS fund was established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with PBSP as a way to rebuild the local economy and help the Visayas region respond better to future disasters.
Through regular repayments, Lopa said MFIs can provide loans to more individuals also in need of financial support.
“Napakahalaga na hindi kayo tingnan na tao lamang na humihingi. Napakahalaga sa dignidad ninyo na kayo ay negosyante at kayo ay mga taong talagang seryoso sa trabaho ninyo at alam ninyo ang kahalagahan ng pag-utang ang pagbayad ng utang, (It’s important that you will not only be seen as people depending on dole-outs. It is important for your dignity that you are perceived as businesspersons who are serious in your work and know the value of lending and paying for your debts.),” he added.
The Apostolic Center evoked a festive vibe as the graduates each received their diplomas handed by Hapinoy co-founder Mark Ruiz and the representative of the sponsoring companies. To further support the women in their enterprises, store items like weighing apparatuses and candy jars were also distributed during the event.
Twenty-two model store owners were also selected as Hapinoy Ambassadors during the event. They are tasked to share their experiences in becoming better entrepreneurs and hopefully inspire others to follow the same path.
Other partners of Project Bagong Araw are AirAsia Founation, SunLife Financial, SunLife Foundation, Manulife, Ayala Foundation, Tanging Yaman Foundation, Porticus, CARD Bank, and Taytay sa Kauswagan, Inc.