By Thea Andrea C. Magueriano
Dominador Vergara, Jr., owner of Maternal and Child Care Clinic in Malabon, not only managed to keep his facility open amid the COVID-19 pandemic but also provided shuttle service to their patients to reduce their exposure to the virus.
“Hinahatid-sundo ko lahat ng pasyente dahil unang una po walang masakyan, pangalawa po, na-e-expose sila sa labas dahil nga diyan sa COVID,” related Vergara.
Along with his wife, Alma, a registered midwife, they extended their services by offering their patients seminars on the virus and providing them protective equipment including face shields and face masks.
All these add-ons, according to Vergara, come at no additional costs, as he didn’t want to place extra burden on the patients.
Vergara and his wife’s contributions to their community were recognized at the 18th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) where they were named one of the COVID-19 response champions.
The CMA awarding ceremony, held online on June 15, was led by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) governor Benjamin Diokno and Citi Philippines chief executive officer Aftab Ahmed. It recognized 10 businesses able to push through amid the economy-crippling pandemic.
“Growing a business in our times is an achievement, sustaining and growing one’s business in a crisis is nothing less than remarkable,” Ahmed said.
Vergara talked about the challenge of putting up a maternity clinic business. It took the Vergaras a year to secure the necessary permits and accreditation to open Maternal and Child Care Clinic in 2014. UPLiFT Philippines Microfinance, Inc. helped fund their capital.
Other COVID-19 response champions are food-related businesses.
Josephine De Lara’s hobby of producing native snacks allowed her business, Lucille’s Cakes and Pastries, to flourish
The pandemic enabled her to help her fellow Cebuanos earn a living by sustaining the income of her 10 regular staff, 20 delivery riders, and 200 resellers. Her partnership with RAFI Micro-Finance, Inc. has helped her grow her brand through the years.
“Josephine grew her business with the community prospering with her,” noted Ahmed.
With a thriving business amid the pandemic, De Lara said, “Mahirap talaga ngayon ang negosyo lalo na sa mga hindi pagkain, so kailangan maghanap ka ng negosyo na kaakibat sa panahon.”
Ivy Millare, owner of Beb’s-AJ Haus of Pies attests to De Lara’s observation, suggesting, “maghanap ng negosyo na para sa pandemic – siguro, pagkain”.
Millare is also a COVID-19 response champion awardee from Koronadal City, South Cotobato who shared her pies with frontliners and volunteers. She was previously recognized as the 15th CMA Regional Winner for Mindanao.
“Yung ibang frontliners, nagbigay kami ng buko pie. Noong nakilala nila na Beb’s-AJ Haus of Pies, doon sila nag-reseller kasi nasarapan sila.” related Millare, whose decision to give away unsold pies helped promote her products to more people.
Fellow COVID-19 response champion Florence Ao-Wat carried with her KINWA Etnika Handicrafts, an organization of Lubuagan weavers from Tabuk, Kalinga.
The weaving business may have faced several hurdles since it started in 2006, but like each strand of thread, it eventually became a large fabric that is more durable and can withstand adversities, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the help of Lubuagan loom weavers, Ao-Wat managed to keep the business afloat by adding items such as face masks and scrub caps necessary amid a health crisis.
This year’s CMA National Winner is Luzviminda Sunit from Visayas, whose flourishing dried fish business allowed her to extend help to her employees and relatives by giving them a small capital.
Regional Awardee for Luzon is Renalyn Brondial of Willy’s Cashew Nuts and Butter. Medelina Cansancio, a dried and smoked fish producer and exporter, is the Regional Awardee for Visayas. Luz Bangos of CCLM Hardware and fish and vegetable vendor Rosalyn Espenorio both bagged the Regional Award for Mindanao. Joymar Olarte of J&J Tasty Fried Chicken was named the Youth Microentrepreneur of the Year.