Project to turn women ‘sari-sari’ store owners into better entrepreneurs

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MANILA, Philippines—A program to transform women “sari-sari” store owners into better entrepreneurs was launched recently in Naga City as part of a worldwide campaign for the economic empowerment of five million women  by the end of year 2020.

A joint project of Coca-Cola Philippines and Hapinoy MicroVentures Foundation, the Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program, dubbed locally as the Coke-Hapinoy STAR Program, intends to benefit 1,000 women sari-sari store owners and operators.

Under the program’s memoramdum of agreement, Hapinoy MicroVentures Foundation uses business models to help women sustain their sari-sari (corner) store operations through the provision of basic entrepreneurship training, facilitation of access to business resources and peer mentoring support.

Coca-Cola Philippines, in a press statement, cited studies showing that, when women are given the opportunity to earn an income, they can become powerful agents to breaking poverty cycles in the communities because women tend to reinvest their income to the education, health and welfare of their families.

The STAR Program in the Philippines is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s global 5by20 Program in which the Company made a commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women by the year 2020.

‘‘The partnership with Hapinoy is another milestone for the STAR Program. Partnership with civil society groups, government organizations and the women beneficiaries is very important to ensure the success of the program. More partners mean that we will be able to empower more women who are already pillars of our business and the communities we proudly serve,” said Gilda Custodio-Maquilan, Coca-Cola sustainability manager and STAR Program lead.

So far, the program has touched the lives of more than 10,000 women sari-sari store owners and operators in two cities—Manila and Pasay City— and nine provinces—Pampanga, Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Misamis Oriental and Davao. The program  will be expanded to cover 22 cities and provinces nationwide by the end of the year. The STAR Program will aim to reach 100,000 women sari-sari store owners and operators by the year 2020.

Hapinoy MVF executive director Timothy John Agulto said: ‘‘Infused by the shared vision of empowered and abundant micro-entrepreneur women, Hapinoy is thankful for Coca-Cola’s trust in Hapinoy’s deep understanding of the sari-sari store’s context and its progressive socioeconomic development methodologies, through the STAR Program which will be implemented by Hapinoy in Camarines Sur this 2013. We hope that this corporate-social business partnership model between Coca-Cola and Hapinoy, continues to reach more women micro-entrepreneurs in the future.”

Adel A. Tamano, Coca-Cola Philippines vice president for public affairs and communications, said enabling the economic empowerment of women through 5by20 Programs, like the Coke-Hapinoy STAR Program, is part of the Coca-Cola global sustainability framework called “Me, We, World.”

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