TACLOBAN CITY – An “adopt a business” program has been pushed to help local micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) recover after suffering stunning losses wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda.
Oliver Cam, vice president and chief operating officer of Welcome Home Leyte Holdings Inc., said that some MSMEs have been directly seeking assistance from big businesses based in Manila, Cebu and other big cities to be to able to recover.
“The initial goal was for the small businesses to find a sort of a big brother based in highly urbanized cities. We will try to find a way to help them find access to capital, not just in terms of cash, but support from big companies who provide them inputs like fresh stocks,” Cam said.
Cam has no reports as to how many businesses adopted the approach since many of them directly deal with big businesses.
“Some of the big companies have been responsive like the Proctor and Gamble. They have outright consignment to about 100 stores in replenishing stocks,” he added.
The initiative is a component of a proposed database building for Tacloban-based enterprises. “That database is crucial because it shows basic profile, product and services information, and if they are open to partnership,” Cam said.
The Leyte Chamber of Commerce and Industry pushed for the establishment of business welfare help desk to be manned by the Department of Industry, city licensing office, and city treasurer’s office. The desk is tasked to gather basic information from local business owners.
The business sector tagged financing as the main concern of local businesses. Cam said that many shop owners were barred by lending firms to seek fresh loans given their existing unpaid obligations.
In the city’s business district, commercial spaces occupied by local MSMEs before the storm are now rented by the so called “ambulant vendors.” Among the major shops that have not yet resumed operations but allowed their spaces to be rented by vendors are the Highway Supermart and City Colorlab.
“Their means of income were wiped out. They’re still liable to pay loans. In order to avail new loans, it is quite impossible since second mortgage is not being applied in the Philippines,” Cam said.
He noted that many MSMEs have existing loans since they were motivated to expand due to improving local economy before the storm struck.
The current situation in the city’s business district reflects the magnitude of the disaster that even major shops – Gaisano, Mercury Drugstore, Mister Donut, Three-Sixty Pharmacy – are still closed four months after the catastrophe. These shops suffered losses from strong winds, storm surges, and looting incidents.
Citing reports from the city government, he said only more than 500 business have resumed operations as of last week, a small fraction of the more than 13,000 registered business last year. Some 1,500 applications are now on process.
City Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said the city council approved a resolution extending the deadline for renewal of business permits to June 20, 2014 or five months later than the usual January 20 deadline.(SARWELL Q.MENIANO)