Sari-sari store owners from Samar and Leyte underwent a series of training under Project: Premium to strengthen their business skills.

PALO, Leyte- A caravan participated by owners of sari-sari stores who were beneficiaries of assistance from various groups in the aftermath of super typhoon’s Yolanda’s onslaught gathered at the Leyte Academic Center, this town on Thursday(January 24).
The gathering, attended by 1,537 participants from the different cities and municipalities in Samar and Leyte, was primarily initiated by Premium, a project funded by the Canadian government in partnership with the Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada, Hapinoy, CARD INC., and RIMANSI.
The groups’ effort is part of the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Recovery Assistance.
It aims to provide financial and technical assistance to micro-entrepreneurs specifically to sari-sari store owners in Samar and Leyte.
The beneficiaries of this project had undergone a series of training on business management and cash flow monitoring, product diversification and business continuity planning, which includes disaster preparedness from Hapinoy.
Hapinoy is a social enterprise that partners with the sari-sari store owners through training, linkage to micro-financing, enablement on technology, and new business opportunities.
Its heart is to help micro-entrepreneurs create opportunities for them, see them grow, and provide long term sustainability specifically to sari-sari stores because they believe that they play an important role in our society. Although there are existing grocery stores, they still choose to support sari-sari stores for they are iconic trademarks of the Filipino culture.
After completing the training, the members are now qualified to avail loan funds from CARD, Inc., a microfinance non-government organization whose mission is to offer start-up or seed loans to help generate additional income to the beneficiaries.
The beneficiaries are also given micro-insurance called Sagip Negosyo from RIMANSI, a technical service provider among association of mutual micro insurers.
Sagip Negosyo was constituted to develop and finalize a non-life calamity micro-insurance for stores.
John Rey Hecto from Dulag, Leyte has been a member of this project for about a year already.
As a person with disability, he is grateful for the assistance he was provided as it allowed him to gain income despite his disability.
Through this, he was able to have an idea on how to properly handle and grow a business.
“We have to save and not just keep on racking up debts,” Hecto said.
The true mission of this project is not solely to create opportunities for them, to learn and for them to grow, but to establish and maintain good relationships with the people whom they were able to extend their help to.
Although relationships are known to be a two-way process, the program doesn’t seek much in return as long as they witness improvements in the lives of the people they helped.
It’s not about what the beneficiaries can give in return, it is about the value that this program has placed on the table and instilled in the minds of these entrepreneurs. With that being said, this project forwards the micro-entrepreneurs to enlarge their business capacity towards a more resilient micro-enterprise. (KIRA ARABELLA ALER,THEA MENDOZA,AMIRA MAE MIRALLES, STUDENT INTERNS, ST. THERESE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OF TACLOBAN, INC.)