Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano’s Sari-saring Pag-asa financial aid program for small businesses has been to different parts of northern Luzon in the last two weeks, extending much-needed cash grants to dozens of microentrepreneurs in the region who have struggled due to the pandemic.
Most recently, a total of 45 sari-sari store owners in Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan received P3,500 each through the Sari-saring Pag-asa cash aid initiative on Tuesday, November 9. An additional 30 beneficiaries from other areas of the country were chosen online.
Among the microentrepreneurs who have received assistance through the program this month is Elizabeth Taaca, a sari-sari store operator in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur who was chosen as a beneficiary on Monday, November 8.
Taaca’s father had given her control of the sari-sari store he started in their neighborhood, and she has kept the small business going for the last 14 years.
Her sari-sari store has weathered the pandemic a little better than similar businesses across the country, with her daily sales revenue never dipping below P1,000.
However, the P3,500 Sari-saring Pag-asa cash grant she received was a welcome opportunity for her to restock on items that make her the most money.
“Noong nakuha ko po yung P3,500, ibinili ko po agad ng fast-moving items gaya po ng softdrinks, mga tsitsirya, pancit canton. Yun po ang mga binili kong mga items kasi sila po yung mabilis lang po yung balik ng puhunan,” Taaca shared.
(When I got the P3,500, I used it right away to buy fast-moving items like soft drinks, chips, pancit canton. Those are the items I bought so that I could make my money back faster.)
Customer is king
Taaca said she had a few tricks that helped her store stay afloat throughout the pandemic. One of them is being flexible enough to accommodate her customers’ requests.
She gave an example of one such request when a buyer asked if she had any slippers on hand. Instead of outright declining the customer, she reassured them that she will have the item in-store the next day.
“Nagdagdag po ako ng tsinelas kasi kung ano po yung hinahanap ng tao, kinabukasan po bibilhin ko po. Yun po ang isang sikreto ko,” Taaca said.
(I added slippers to my inventory because whatever people look for, I make sure to stock up on the next day. That’s one of my secrets.)
Another way she prioritizes customers’ needs is her knack for giving children whatever item they try to buy, even if her young buyers come up short in cash. However, she would list these purchases as credit that she would have to charge to the kids’ parents.
“Kapag pupunta sila na kulang yung pera nila, nagbibigay din po ako, pero ‘pag kasama na nila yung mama nila, doon ko po sasabihan na nagkulang yung pera. Hindi po ako gaya ng iba na ‘pag kulang yung pera, hindi na nagbibigay,” Taaca said.
(When kids buy from me and they come up short on cash, I’ll still give them their purchases, but when I see their parents, I’ll tell them their child came up short. I’m not like others who won’t sell to kids who don’t have enough money.)
Finally, she advised her fellow sari-sari store operators to make savings a budget priority, pointing out how her daily savings helped her put up a second floor for her house as well as pay for her monthly electricity bills.
“Pagdating po sa savings, ‘pag gabi na po, di ba marami na pong mga P5 o P10 na buo, inilalagay ko po sa alkansya. Tapos, doon po sa pambayad po ng kuryente, gabi-gabi po akong nagtatabi ng P100,” Taaca said.
(When it comes to savings, at the end of the day when I have lots of 5- and 10-peso coins, I place all of them inside a coin bank. Meanwhile, I set aside P100 every day to help pay for power.)
Taaca thanked former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for the boost her business received through Sari-saring Pag-asa.
Nationwide, the Sari-saring Pag-asa program has provided cash grants to 5,686 small business owners as of November 6.