Promoting recovery towards resilience
A sector crucial to promote development and economic growth has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic: micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 99.95% of the businesses in the country are MSMEs. When the enhanced community quarantine began in Metro Manila and other parts of the country in March 2020, almost all of them were forced to suspend their operations, resulting in unemployment and stoppage of economic activity.
Mindanao was not spared, and the effects of the pandemic were also felt.
The Katotohanan,Pagkakaisa at Serbisyo-Small Enterprise and Economic Development Microfinance Incorporated (KPS-SEED) revealed that 42% or 5,000 out of their 12,000 active clients were highly affected by the impact of movement restrictions during the enhanced community quarantine period.
Eight hundred (800) of these affected clients were from the municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba and Sarangani where the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) has partnered with different stakeholders to create and improve livelihood opportunities and solve energy poverty in these areas.
Responding to the challenges of pandemic
To support the micro-entrepreneurs and their recovery, PEF has approved a P10 million financial support to KPS-SEED in 2020 for a loan program to those affected by the pandemic numbering around thousand (1,000).
“This loan program has both livelihood and social components. We offer loans to our clients, who are mainly farmers and other traders in the food and non-food industries to help them restart their operations. We provide house to house consultations for our beneficiaries intending to start or grow their own enterprises. Part of this program is the conduct of the Poverty Probability Index where we interview members on how they are doing,” KPS-SEED Operations Director Jerome Panilagao said.
According to Panilagao, the project’s initial outcome has been immediately seen.
“Most of these businesses and farms did not operate during the lockdowns. When we started refinancing them, we saw that they are now back in their economic activities,” he said.
Katotohanan,Pagkakaisa at Serbisyo -Small Enterprise and Economic Development Microfinance Incorporated (KPS-SEED Microfinance Inc.) is a non-stock and non-profit microfinance institution established in 2003 at General Santos City by the urban and rural poor women of KPS Inc., its mother organization.
PEF and KPS-SEED have been partners in improving the lives of poor rural communities in Mindanao since 2008. Both are partners under the Strengthening Off-grid Lighting with Appropriate Renewable Energy Solutions or SOLARES project that will benefit 5,000 off grid rural households in the Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat through the installation of solar home lighting systems and access to livelihood and financing opportunities.
 2019 MSME Statistics’ https://www.dti.gov.ph/resources/msme-statistics/
Photo source: KPS-SEEDS Facebook page