Coca-Cola Philippines has introduced the Safe Store Education campaign that provides small retailers access to online training and education on how to operate a retail business safely in a new business environment.
Launched in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, the campaign supports the safe reopening of thousands of sari-sari stores across the country. Coca-Cola has been hands-on in helping micro, small and medium enterprises weather the crisis from day 1 until now by following through on the initial roll-out of its Rebuilding Sari-Sari Stores Through Access to Resources and Trade program.The Safe Store Education campaign complements the existing Safe Store Movement and the Retailer’s Rebuild component—the former, promoting safe stores operations under the new normal through a massive information drive; and the latter, a P157-million bridge loan support fund targeted for sari-sari stores and carinderias, with eligible beneficiaries receiving a 10,000 peso loan package.Safe Store Education aims to translate the government-issued safety guidelines and protocols into a more simple practical and easily understandable guide for micro-retailers to adapt. “I believe the Safe Store Education component brings to life three values of Filipinos: malasakit —a deep concern to not leave anyone behind; kalinga—to care for others in need; and bayanihan—the ability to come together and pool resources for the common good,” said Coca-Cola public affairs and communications director Jonah De Lumen-Pernia.She said that all efforts of the beverage firm and the agencies that continuously support Coca-Cola assure a safe restart for every Filipino business people and for the country.Providing a picture of the difficult situation facing MSMEs, TESDA Deputy Director General Aniceto Bertiz III noted that “in the wake of the pandemic, many micro, small and medium enterprises have struggled to properly navigate the ongoing crisis.”“Since these stores serve many households in the area, they too are obligated to make their store operations safe for their own families, customers and employees,” he said.Towards this end, the partners have come together to “help our micro-retailers face their greater challenge,” said Jose Ma. Concepcion, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder.
The partners developed comprehensive online learning modules that focus on retail business continuity and safe business operations. Consisting of videos, comics, infographics, games, and knowledge assessment, these will be delivered to micro-retailers through the eTESDAiSTAR program for e-learning and offline as well.With knowledge gained from these modules, micro-retailers, particularly women entrepreneurs, are expected to be more business-savvy and armed with competencies that they can use to keep their store operations going and growing in the new normal.“Given this current predicament we are facing, it is a must to guide the micro-retailers as they navigate and hurdle the barriers posed by this crisis. Understanding how the COVID-19 virus spreads is critical in order to break the chains of transmission. Constant and reliable information is therefore crucial,” said Trade Undersecretary Blesilda Lantayona.USAID deputy mission director Patrick Wesner highlighted how micro-retailers form a substantial part of the economy.“Sari-sari stores for example contribute 13 percent or P1.5 trillion to the GDP. They play an important role in bringing goods to local people and the community,” he said as he emphasized how imperative it is that store operators are provided clear guidance on how to open up their establishments while continuing to protect themselves and their customers from the virus,” he said.Wesner lauded Coca-Cola, TESDA, and DTI for their commitment to advance democracy, stability, prosperity and resilience in the Philippines. “Through our collaboration, we can all overcome the challenges posed by this unprecedented pandemic,” he said.In a survey conducted by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners early this year, it was revealed that 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderias were forced to close during the lockdown while others had to drastically downsize their operations by up to 90 percent. 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.