In this war against COVID-19, creativity coupled with faith are essential ingredients to survival. However, DOST-CALABARZON’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) cooperators prove that a helping hand is always indispensable in the process of winning. The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is undoubtedly one of the most affected sectors amidst this enhanced community quarantine. As an emerging player in the business, the cost of halting or modifying operations play a major role when one talks about sustainability and efficiency of an enterprise. Albeit all these factors, these MSMEs chose to offer a helping hand by conducting their own form of corporate social responsibility, sharing their products or services, or utilizing equipment granted upon them by the SETUP program. Just as they have been aided, they in turn actively choose to propagate the ripple of assistance.
Out of the box best describes Farm Asia Global Environmental Research’s BayaniJuan: Mobile Palengke Solution. Farm Asia, a SETUP cooperator since 2017, is originally an MSME advocate of organic farming but circumstances paved the way for the enterprise to expand their advocacy by helping a part of the country’s transport sector through partnering with the Pagasa ng Mamamayang Nagkakaisa Transport Service and Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PAMANA TSC-MPC). As Ronaldo Z. Relador, President of Farm Asia, states, “Hindi na kailangang umalis ng mga mamimili sa kanyang bahay…makakapamili siya ng gusto niyang bilhin dahil nakikita niya ito sa kaniyang harapan.”
The Bayani-Juan is a mobile market which sells different essential products like meat, vegetables, fruits, condiments, canned goods, rice, coffee, and many more. In its very essence, it is a market made more organized, accessible, and safe for both sellers and buyers. All products in this mobile market are already pre-packed and can be bought in kilo/s or in containers which limit contact between the two parties. At the same time, Bayani-Juan’s operators are members of the PAMANA transport cooperative, one being the driver, another member who serves as the manager and cashier, and an assistant who facilitates the giving of products.
There are currently four Bayani-Juans serving the cities and municipalities of San Pedro, Biñan, Muntinlupa, and Parañaque. It is bound to expand its reach to Pila, San Pablo City, Santa Cruz, and Calauan.
Another innovative MSME is Cordero Sewing Services which brought to life 4,000 washable otton cloth face masks. These face masks were produced to help the frontliners and volunteers in the municipality of Bauan, Batangas. Cordero Sewing Services’ production is continuously on-going as another batch of 1,000 facemasks are on the works and expected to be distributed on April 26. Managed by Nicetas Cordero, the Cordero Sewing Services has been in the sewing industry since 1990. After 27 years, the enterprise’s production process which involves sewing, edging, embroidering, and cutting were improved through diverse production equipment under the SETUP program. It was also in 2017 when Ms. Cordero testified of SETUP’s intervention in their day to day operations as she said, “The intervention really helps us improve the quality of our products. It also causes speed increase… [at the same time] decrease in our electric consumption since the acquisition of new machines.”
On the other hand, the call for basic needs is what LA Machineries Corporation (LAMACO) chose to answer by sharing their resources with their employees and households within their community. They refilled used and empty bottles of alcohol and hand sanitizers which amounted to a total of 10 gallons of alcohol and 5 gallons of hand sanitizer. In addition, they also distributed 100 packs of relief goods. LAMACO also shared vital knowledge on proper waste segregation to their community. They partnered with their barangay and did a short talk hosted by their local expert, Mrs. Lorna Unas, a LAMACO officer and also a member of the Ecowaste Coalition. The talk was done simultaneously with DSWD’s distribution of relief packs. As an expert in machine building since 1959, LAMACO may have taken on a slightly different path with their initiative but was still true in delivering quality service.
In the province of Rizal, Binthau Bakery and GMG Powder Coating Inc. took the initiative to assist their local frontliners through providing them meals and personal protective equipment. This assistance generated an estimated cost of Php 60,000 which was spent specifically on: 500 loaves of bread, five boxes of mineral water, and another five boxes of canned juice. Binthau Bakery is a bakeshop that grew its roots back in Manila, it ventured its way to DOST upon considering an upgrade in their equipment and an expansion in the market. GMG Powder Coating, on the other hand, is a company engaged in furniture trading which grew to serve big clients such as 7-Eleven, PG Lawson, and Circle K).
The SETUP beneficiaries from Quezon have also reached out their helping hand as Amstature Foods from Lucena City, Quezon spent a total of Php 75,440 worth of donations. They donated fresh miki to nearby barangays, pancit canton and three sacks of rice to their church, and refreshment drinks to the frontliners. The enterprise also lent their van in service for the frontliners as well as for their own employees. Moreover, their 30 employees will receive a Php 2,000 cash assistance as help for their families in this pandemic.
GreenLife Coconut Products Philippines, Inc., known for being one of the top producers of virgin coconut oil in Quezon, saw an opportunity to help the frontliners upon knowing that there are ongoing research studies on the use of VCO against COVID-19. Every week, the firm provides 100pcs of 250mL VCO bottles (or more) to be tested first by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) before forwarding to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Some of their coconut products were also donated to hospital frontliners and selected checkpoints around Quezon Province. Overall, they have spent around Php 200,000 worth of donations as help in the COVID-19 crisis.
These MSMEs are testaments that no one is indeed too poor to give. They serve as proof that aid is a ripple which needs active involvement to propagate. Let it be written in history that in these difficult times, these micro, small, and medium enterprises chose to help, chose to innovate, and chose to make a difference in their own ways. (DOST-STII)