Tagbilaran City’s micro-retailers receive safe store kits

The ceremonial turn-over of the safe store kits in Tagbilaran City with (from left) USAID’s SURGE Project Coordinator Dr. Rosalinda Paredes, City Mayor John Geesnell “BABA” Yap, Tagbilaran City’s First Lady Jane Yap, and Coca-Cola’s Region Sales Manager Edmar Ibero.

According to the rapid retailer’s assessment conducted by the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO) from March to April 2020, some 42 percent of sari-sari stores and 75 percent of carinderias were forced to close when the hard lockdown was imposed in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The micro-retailers in Tagbilaran City were not exempted. The strict health protocols limited their day-to-day transactions resulting to decreased sales. 

To help these enterprises, the USAID’s Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project, Coca-Cola Philippines, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) launched the Safe Store Project (SSP). SSP aims to support the reopening of the sari-sari store in a safe and sustainable manner despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. City Mayor John Geesnell “BABA” Yap emphasized the critical role of the sari-sari store in supplying the basic goods in the community, “We need to find practical solutions to help our micro-retailers become more resilient both for the owners themselves and customers. We need pro-active efforts to combat the negative effects of this pandemic and seek ways to adopt to the new normal”, Yap said.

With this plastic barriers, sari-sari store owners can continue with their livelihood in this new normal business environment. USAID’s SURGE Project Component Lead 3 Celso Enriquez stressed that reviving the economy by pushing for the recovery of the micro-enterprises is crucial, “Most sari-sari store owners are run by women entrepreneurs. SSP is part of the Women’s Development and Global Initiative (WGDP) that is implemented in many countries including the Philippines which fosters women empowerment through capacity building and enhancing entrepreneurial capabilities. Helping these women entrepreneurs through the provision of the safe store kits is a much-needed boost”, Enriquez said.

Tagbilaran City’s First Lady Jane Yap also commended the initiative. Yap being the founder of Mutya Cares Foundation and Gugma Tagbilaran is also a major advocate of women empowerment, “As they re-open their sari-sari store, owners have to ensure their safety and that of their customers through the strict observance of strict health protocols. The safe store project is a unique opportunity to resume their businesses in a safe manner”, emphasized FL Yap.

SSP distributed the safe store kits to 200 women micro-retailers in Tagbilaran. DTI Provincial Director Ma. Soledad Balistoy also praised the initiative as it encompasses the aim of the agency in empowering entrepreneurs, “This partnership is truly a testament that we are one in restarting our recovery efforts towards building a better and resilient Philippines”, Balistoy added.