Women micro entrepreneurs in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban continue their journey to economic recovery with a skills training program that aims to help them get past various obstacles.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Coca-Cola Philippines are rolling out the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources Program (STAR) in Tacloban City this September, starting with the Training Induction Program. This initiative is a continuation of the support that Coca-Cola Philippines extended to the women micro entrepreneurs when their lives were disrupted by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
The Training Induction Program will introduce select women micro-entrepreneurs to STAR. Two accredited trainers, both are locals, will help train 300 women participants in Tacloban City.
Most of the women micro entrepreneurs taking part in the Training Induction Program are beneficiaries of a novel program jointly undertaken by Coca-Cola Philippines, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Procter & Gamble Philippines in 2014. Its goal was to physically rebuild 1,000 stores in the typhoon belt of Eastern Visayas.
Typhoon Haiyan caused extensive damage in the province, and wiped out the farms and businesses of residents. The project supports residents by providing them with livelihood opportunities in retail. Under the arrangement, USAID will construct the physical stores, while Coca-Cola and P&G would provide initial inventory to help the women jumpstart their businesses and find income streams.
“We are happy to be working with local trainers in bringing STAR to the micro entrepreneurs of Tacloban since they are familiar with the everyday challenges they encounter. They have almost the same story—life being disrupted by a typhoon with some losing close family members. Most of them relied on relief goods for a month or two, and then decided, it was time to move forward. TESDA, Coca-Cola, and USAID are all agents of this recovery process,” TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva said.
"I’ve seen first-hand how the city rose up from the devastation, and I’d say there is more work to be done. But to sum it up: we need to make the recovery permanent," he added.
As of August 2015, more than 600 stores have already been built, benefiting an equal number of women and their families. This number is expected to reach 1,000 by the end of the year. The micro entrepreneurs, however, would need the skills to help them effectively run their businesses.
The STAR Program, led by the TESDA, Coca-Cola Philippines, and various microfinance institutions like Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, aims to strengthen women’s economic capacity.
It believes that when women are given an opportunity to earn, they reinvest more than 90 percent of their income to the welfare of their children and their family. By increasing the capacity of women to earn income through traditional trade, like sari-sari stores and food stalls, poverty cycles within families and communities can be broken.
The STAR program will help hone the entrepreneurial skills of women sari-sari storeowners by training them, organizing them into a cohesive business network, and linking them to enterprise opportunities.
“The STAR program sustains the successes achieved by the rebuilding program. Now that the women micro entrepreneurs are equipped with the resources to run their sari-sari stores and carinderia, the STAR program provides them with the right skills to oversee and grow their businesses,” Adel Tamano, vice president for public affairs and communication of Coca-Cola Philippines.
Implemented in the Philippines by TESDA over the past few years, the STAR program has helped over 36,000 women in 46 locations overcome barriers that have prevented them from growing their businesses such as access to resources, peer mentoring and basic entrepreneurship training. The program is seen to be most beneficial to the women micro entrepreneurs of Tacloban, who were hit hardest by the typhoon.
In the coming years, the STAR program is envisioned to empower 50,000 women entrepreneurs in the Visayas and another 50,000 in Mindanao—the balance coming from the National Capital Region and Luzon. In all, the target is to benefit 200,000 women sari-sari store and carinderia owners by 2020. This is part of a global initiative by The Coca-Cola Company to empower 5 million women micro-entrepreneurs within the company’s value chain by 2020, hence the program called 5by20.
Coca-Cola Philippines also established the STAR Center for Excellence facility at the TESDA Women’s Center to enhance and diversify the program framework. The center also serves as a venue for the training and accreditation of facilitators to be deployed throughout the country. To date, the STAR program has 295 accredited facilitators teaching and training women retailers to become better entrepreneurs.
“We aim to build on the gains of our community programs to ensure that these are sustainable and will benefit the community in the years to come. By providing skills training to the women entrepreneurs we have earlier assisted in Tacloban, we are confident that they will not only recover from their losses, but will find new growth opportunities,” Tamano said. END