THE biggest local footprint of women in business is in the micro-retail sector, particularly sari-sari stores and carinderias. Of the 1.1 million of these small and medium enterprises (SMEs), 90 percent are owned and operated by women—most of whom are not equipped with proper training and education.
According to Joy Munsayac-Cacal, Coca-Cola Philippines public affairs and sustainability manager, these women generally put up a business to help with their family’s expenses, but fail to realize the full potential of their stores.
“These women don’t see themselves as businesswomen,” Munsayac-Cacal said in a recent visit to BusinessMirror. “Thus, they do not realize the opportunity to augment. Based on studies, up to 40 percent of households needs can be addressed by a well-run sari-sari store.”
Among the problems encountered by these entrepreneurs is the lack of accountability from family members, who get household supplies from the stores, treating it as extension of their kitchen. Another is the extension of credit to neighbors, relatives and friends, which almost usually come to a default.
Launched in 2011 to help address these concerns and more is the Coca-Cola Sari-Sari Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program. Star is Coca-Cola’s flagship program for women economic empowerment in the Philippines, which aims to provide an enabling environment that can help women micro-entrepreneurs overcome the barriers they face to business success.
“The impact of helping women achieve economic empowerment will be far and wide,” said Atty. Adel Tamano, then vice president for public affairs and communications of Coca-Cola Philippines. “Women are most likely to invest their earnings back to the growth of their families, especially their children, which paves the way for a better future generation. Empowering one women inspires an entire village.”
The program is in line with “5by20,” or the global commitment of The Coca-Cola Co. to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women across the company’s value chain by 2020. The STAR Program in the Philippines aims to contribute 200,000 empowered women to the global target, and is on track to deliver on the commitment with 164,000 participants for the program as of end-2018.
The STAR Program has been rolled out on a nationwide scale, in partnership with the government and various microfinance institutions, including the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, or Tesda.
The Coca-Cola STAR Program is comprised of three major components: Access to Training, Access to Resources, and Access STAR Peer Mentoring Support.
“With STAR, it’s not just about improving women’s business skills, but empowering them by building their confidence,” Munsayac-Cacal said.
According to the STAR Program Impact Evaluation Study conducted by Ipsos Group SA from July 2015 to July 2017, around 97 percent of women felt the STAR Training was useful in their business management, while 32 percent feel more confident about their future and financial responsibility.
One of the success stories of the program is Carmelita Aspiras. She put up her sari-sari store in 2012 with a capital of P20,000. Three years later, she attended the STAR Program and revolutionized her business, along with her life. She regulated store hours from 5 am to 11 pm, and her gross daily earning increased from P3,000 to P5,000.
“I was able to let my children finish school, and business is thriving,” Aspiras said.
Meanwhile, Lita Igong-Igong was able to recover from a devastating loss with the help of the STAR Program. In 2012, she lost everything to Typhoon Pablo.
She tried to get back on her feet by opening a carinderia with a capital of P1,000. In 2014, she was accepted in the STAR Program, and her business grew exponentially that it pulls in now P300,000 a month.
The STAR Program is just one of the three initiatives of Coca-Cola Philippines under its Women Economic Empowerment Programs, along with Women REACH for women OFWs, and Women Artisan Program for upcyclers.
The women aspect is part of the 3Ws of Coca-Cola Philippines’s sustainability pillars. The other two are Water (wherein the company has helped return more than 100 percent of the water it uses to make their finished drinks to nature and communities since 2015) and Waste (which entails achieving 100 percent recyclable packaging globally by 2025, as well as recycling one bottle or can for every one the company sells by 2030).