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Protect Our OFWs

The second half of the year just commenced. We have finally closed the door on an awful first half that saw the coronavirus pandemic wreak havoc on our communities and our economy. There seems to be no end in sight. Last week, the total number of virus infections reached 10 million. And while more than half have recovered, more than 500,000 have died from the Covid-19 disease.

 

As I write this column, the Philippine cases are about to reach 35,000. I remember some health experts predicting back in March that the cases might reach 40,000 by June. It’s a staggering number especially considering the fact that around 23,000 of these cases happened in the last 90 days.

 

And despite the reopening of some parts of the economy, businesses have been struggling just to break even. I know that a lot of establishments have decided to close for a good while some are on the brink. Local businesses, especially the micro and small enterprises, face an uncertain future.

 

Businesses have to face some difficult decisions of laying off employees, closing offices, and in the case of small entrepreneurs, giving up on their dream initiative. I am particularly saddened by those who just started and got their wings clipped by the coronavirus.

 

On the bright side, some businesses have successfully made adjustments in their business models. They have demonstrated that entrepreneurial spirit and skill of understanding the situation and making the most out of them.

 

Have you seen your Instagram and Facebook feeds lately? It has exploded with home-based small enterprises from those selling alcohol and health products, baked goods, directional stickers, and signages for restaurants opening for dine-in, and other products and services.

 

I admire these entrepreneurs who did not let the challenging situation of a pandemic get in the way of accomplishing their dreams. For some of course it’s just a question of survival. The goal is simply to earn just enough to pay rent, bills, salaries, and other expenses. In other words, just stay afloat until the pandemic eases.

 

As I mentioned before, it is important to adapt and be creative. I would also suggest that this is probably the time for small businesses—especially community enterprises—to band together and collaborate. Some have been doing this already.

 

We need to realize that we cannot survive this on our own. Small businesses need to join forces, resources and learning in order to survive and the community is critical in accomplishing that. Unity is a valuable asset in the face of this adversity.

 

It is important for entrepreneurs to understand what the economy and the consumers would be like during these times. For instance, I think that when the stricter ECQ was in effect a lot of delivery services became very popular but when we transitioned to GCQ, people visited the physical groceries and supermarkets more instead of having them delivered. The online economy is thriving but with the multitude of sellers online you need to stand out to be successful. You need to offer something unique. It is this keen understanding of the environment that would allow businesses to not just survive but thrive.

 

I really hope that many businesses survive this crisis. I remember the feeling during the Asian Financial Crisis and the 2008 Global Economic Crisis when you feel your world would just crumble around you. This pandemic is much worse but I remain hopeful. I believe in the hard work and perseverance of our entrepreneurs. I believe in the resolve
of Filipinos.