Hapinoy program gives hope to ‘Yolanda’ survivors
Like millions of Filipinos, Alicia Dumdum and Bella Sadongdong own a mobile phone.
But unlike many who go through their gadgets like clothes and shoes from season to season, both Alicia and Bella refused to part with their old-school models with small screens and push-button keypads.
Indeed, technology can be intimidating to two homemakers focused on the needs of their families and the day-to-day operations of their sari-sari store in Tacloban, Leyte.
“I used to be afraid of it,” admits Bella of the Android smartphone.
“I didn’t want to touch it,” adds Alicia, who once rejected a smartphone given by one of her two kids.
Those days of fearing technology have long gone.
Today, both Alicia and Bella have not only traded up their handsets for sleek, Android mobile phones, they’re also using them to generate extra income.
Mobile Money Hub
As two of the 100 nanays (mothers) of the Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub program, Alicia and Bella have an added service to their sari-sari stores: Providing customers with convenient money remittance, air time, and bill payment services through an app in their phone designed by Qualcomm.
Through a program called Qualcomm Wireless Reach, the company brings technology to underserved communities around the world. Each transaction on the app earns Alicia and Bella a corresponding amount of money, which is divided with Hapinoy.
Depending on their area and the type of transaction, agents earn anywhere from P1,000 to P3,000 a month for a start, and from P7,000 to P12,000 a month after a few months into the program.
Launched seven years ago as a social enterprise that empowers women microentrepreneurs at the base of the economic pyramid, Hapinoy puts the nanay at the center of its universe, says Mark Ruiz, Hapinoy president and co-founder.
“There are hundreds of thousands of sari-sari stores all over the Philippines, and more often than not, they are run by nanays. If we are able to help hardworking, high-potential nanays improve their store, we know that when their business improves, profit goes to their families,” he adds.
Enter Qualcomm, the world leader in next-generation mobile technology.
Since 2006, the company’s Wireless Reach initiative has set up mobile technology-based programs for entrepreneurship, public safety, health care, education, and the environment in the most disadvantaged communities of 40 countries-including the Philippines.
Prior to Hapinoy, Qualcomm Wireless Reach provided 3G wireless technology to Wireless Access for Health (WAH), a program which expedited access to accurate and relevant patient information. More than 520,000 patient consultations and close to 450,000 patient records have been documented in 55 clinics through WAH since December 2013.
Qualcomm, which awarded Hapinoy a grant for its Mobile Money Hub program, also created and installed Snapdragon processors in the smartphones of sari-sari store owners, enabling them to transact various financial services.
To date, Hapinoy has trained more than 4,000 nanays in Laguna (Sta. Rosa, San Pablo) and Leyte (Tacloban, Palo) provinces; 100 of them are enrolled in the Mobile Money Hub program. The goal, says Ruiz, is to have 3,000 nanays offering financial services via mobile phone in three years.
The Hapinoy-Qualcomm Wireless Reach partnership could not have come at a better time.
Both Alicia and Bella were among the countless Filipinos whose lives were deeply affected by the unthinkable devastation caused by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Project Bagong Araw
Like many Filipinos, Bella knew that the storm was coming, but she was not quite prepared for its intensity and wrath.
She remembers stocking up her store and buying ingredients for her carinderia, thinking neighbors would flock to her place after the typhoon.
“Our house was newly built so I was confident we would withstand the storm,” she says. “I knew the storm was strong but I didn’t know the floods were going to be so high because I didn’t understand what a storm surge was.”
For Alicia, a sari-sari store owner since 1978, thoughts of Yolanda still make her cry.
Between her and her retired husband, they lost 50 relatives, 17 of them their grandkids. Recalling howling winds, zero visibility, and as many as 50 evacuees taking shelter in her home, Alicia also remembers helplessly watching her store’s supplies—biscuits, rice-floating on flood waters. ”
“Don’t pick them up, they’re already dirty!”, she told the evacuees, “It’s a waste, we can still eat them later,” they told her.
Wiping tears from her eyes after her testimony, Alicia declares, “I am a survivor, I want to move on.”
And move on she has.
It was through Project Bagong Araw, a rehabilitation program for sari-sari store owners affected by Supertyphoon Yolanda where Alicia and Bella underwent Hapinoy’s comprehensive core training in 2014. Besides imparting the basics of how to run a store, training also touched on the social and empowerment aspects of operating a business.
“There are two desired effects after the training,” says Ruiz. “One is resilience, the other is responsiveness to new opportunities.”
The event proved a learning experience for Hapinoy.
Staff members acquainted themselves with the nuances of the Qualcomm apps and assigned specific apps to specific groups. Then there was the issue of data connectivity in the areas where they planned to introduce the program. As such, infrastructure readiness is one of Hapinoy’s criteria in choosing a venue for its program; so are personal capacity and store capacity.
Telecommunications giant Smart provides 3G connectivity for project participants through its wireless network and Smart Money mobile application.
Today, both nanays are back on their feet with new sari-sari stores and a new mindset about technology.
Alicia, who used to fear smartphones, now checks the balance of her remittance and load wallet like it was second nature.
“Effortless,” she says with a smile.
For Bella, who still has to set up the carinderia she lost from the storm, extra income is made through high-demand remittance payments. Her biggest clientele? The relatives of patients confined at the nearby Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, who are relieved they don’t have to go downtown to secure funds.
“If it weren’t for the storm, maybe Hapinoy wouldn’t be interested in Tacloban,” reflects Bella as she holds back her tears, “I lost almost everything, but I was one of those blessed by Hapinoy.”
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