Amid the job losses and economic sluggishness brought on by the pandemic, every peso counts.
Even a modest injection of capital can revive any struggling microenterprise; sari-sari store owners — operators of small corner shops that can be found everywhere in the country — are keenly aware of this.
Flor del Rosario, a sari-sari store owner in Caloocan City, is one such microentrepreneur. Her corner store in Barangay East Grace Park had been making upwards of P160,000 in gross revenue a month before the pandemic.
But that drastically changed as the spread of the coronavirus forced national and local authorities to impose lockdowns across the country and put the economy on stop-and-go mode.
“Dati po, kumikita po kami ng P6,000 to P7,000 per day, pero mula po nung nagka-pandemic, medyo bumaba po siya, naging P3,000 to P4,000 na lang po siya,” del Rosario said.
(Previously, we earned P6,000 to P7,000 per day, but since the pandemic started, our revenues have dipped slightly, it became P3,000 to P4,000 na lang po siya.)
Her income declined by as much as 50 percent because of a steep reduction in sales as a significant number of her buyers had lost jobs during the multiple lockdowns.
The reduction in cash flow to her business meant she found it increasingly difficult to restock her store, and she was keenly aware that this situation could easily become a slippery slope towards total failure.
“Kailangan hindi natin hahayaang mabakante yung mga paninda natin sa ating tindahan, dahil kapag wala tayong paninda siyempre lilipat yung mga customer natin sa ibang tindahan,” del Rosario shared.
(We need to ensure that we keep our stores well-stocked, because if we don’t have the products customers are looking for, they’ll simply switch over to other stores.)
When she received P3,500 through former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s Sari-Sari Store Community initiative earlier this year, del Rosario saw it as an opportunity to restock her corner store and gain an advantage over nearby grocers.
A few months later, del Rosario said her store has regained most of the sales volume it lost at the start of the pandemic, and things have been on the up and up for her humble sari-sari.
“Actually po nung nakatanggap po kami ng P3,500 (Sari-Sari Store Community cash aid), is nadagdagan po siya. Nag-P5,000 to P6,000 po yung kinita namin nung time na pinangdagdag po namin yung P3.5k sa tindahan. Kita niyo naman po, marami po kaming stocks, so nakatulong po talaga yung P3,500 na binigay ni Mr. Alan Cayetano,” del Rosario said.
(Actually, when we received the P3,500 from Sari-Sari Store Community, we were able to make it grow. Our revenue went up to P5,000 to P6,000 almost immediately after we used the P3,500 to restock the store. As you can see, our store shelves are full, so the P3,500 we received from Mr. Alan Cayetano really helped.)
The proud sari-sari store owner shared that her family is now able to save up and buy home appliances because of their robust income.
“Kada kikita po kami every week nang P15,000, magtatabi po kami ng limang libo (para sa savings), tapos yung sampu po dun, yun po yung pinakapuhunan namin. Dahil po sa munti naming tindahan, nakapagpundar po kami ng TV namin. Dati yung TV namin, de-pukpok lang, ngayon maliit na na flat screen, at tsaka speaker po,” Del Rosario said.
(Every week when we earn at least P15,000, we would set aside P5,000 for savings, while we allot P10,000 for revolving capital. Because of the money we earn at the store, we have been able to buy a new TV. We had a TV that you had to hit to work, but now we have a flat-screen one, and a speaker set too.)
She added that she was grateful for the help that former House Speaker Cayetano is extending to small business owners through the Sari-Sari Store Community initiative, now called Sari-Saring Pag-Asa.
“Sana po tuluy-tuloy lang po kayong tumutulong sa kagaya naming mga nagne-negosyo, lalo na sa mahihirap. Sana po mas marami pa po kayong matulungan,” del Rosario said.
(I hope you continue to help small business owners like me, especially those who are poor. I pray you are able to help more people.)
As an encouragement to her fellow microentrepreneurs, del Rosario said small business owners should always be grateful and never stop holding out hope for better days ahead.
“So, lahat po ng mga may-ari ng tindahan o kahit ano pang klaseng negosyo meron kayo, maliit man o malaki (ang biyayang inyong natatanggap), lagi po kayong magpapasalamat sa Diyos, at huwag po tayong mawawalan ng pag-asa dahil habang may buhay, may pag-asa,” she said.
(So, to all small business owners like me, whether you receive a little or a lot of blessings, always stay grateful to God, and never lose hope because as long as you are alive, there will always be hope.)