THE business sector had a rough start in 2020 when the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic hit the entire world, resulting in a massive recession and higher unemployment.
Those suffering from this pandemic are the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Strict lockdowns were imposed to curb the virus from spreading, forcibly closing business establishments.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Davao Regional Director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi said that an estimated 49,000 MSME-owned establishments were forced to close or retrench some of their employees when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) hit the region.
When the region downgraded to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), around 4,000 MSMEs had struggled to reopen due to various factors, one of them is the financial burden and incapacity, forcing them to either downsize further or foreclose the business as their business weather is still not conducive for them.
MSMEs badly need help, which is why DTI launched its strategic programs in helping them recover from the income loss brought about by the pandemic by providing access to financial assistance.
"Aside from financial assistance, our aggressive way of supporting them is also to link them to markets since there is a need for products. That is why we are supporting our MSEs," Ambi said.
MSMEs on the agricultural side can also expect assistance from the Department of Agriculture (DA) as it offers loan assistance to affected beneficiaries to help them continue their agri-fishery activities and contribute to sustained food production.
Marvin S. Auxillo, DA-Davao Region Field Office Alternate-Regional Agri Credit Desk officer, said there is a need to financially capacitate farmers at this time of the pandemic.
“There is a need to help our agri-fishery MSMEs and small farmers and fishers recover from their losses, as they play a crucial role in ensuring the availability of food supply,” Auxillo said.
Here are some programs that our MSMEs can take advantage of:
Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (Cares) Program
It is a P1-billion enterprise rehabilitation financing program under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) that aims to support micro and small businesses affected by the economic impact of Covid-19 in the country.
The program's objective includes saving, employing, encouraging innovation, and helping rebuild MSMEs.
Qualified borrowers must work from a Filipino-owned SME; operation must be one year prior to March 16, 2020, before the imposition of the community quarantine; and must have an asset size of not more than P15 million.
Borrowers will have zero percent interest, and six months maximum grace period on the principal repayment. Service fees will be six percent (18 months term), and eight percent (30 months term).
Livelihood Seeding Program – Negosyo sa Barangay (LSP-NSB)
Another DTI program that allows a wider reach of business development assistance by bringing government services closer to the people through partnerships between relevant local government units and DTI officials. Through Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), DTI shall help capacitate Barangay personnel to provide basic business advisory or information dissemination services to MSMEs in the locality.
Initially launched in August 2019, the program aims to support and promote MSMEs and aspiring entrepreneurs in fourth- to sixth-class cities and municipalities. But the program was reevaluated to adapt to the current situation and align with the government’s Covid-19 response programs, making LSP-NSB available to all municipalities.
MSME beneficiaries of the LSP-NSB Program may include sole proprietors, cooperatives or sectoral associations that are located in identified barangays.
Provision of individual package of livelihood kits amounts to P5,000 to P8,000 that contains items that could aid qualified affected individuals restore and improve their businesses in case of catastrophic events like natural and human-induced calamities including health disasters like epidemics and pandemics.
Expanded Survival and Recovery (Sure) Aid and Recovery Project (Sure Covid-19)
DA through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) launched the SURE Aid and Recovery Project or SURE Covid-19 financing program, aimed at helping micro and small enterprises (MSEs), and small, marginal farmers and fishers adversely affected by the ECQ.
The SURE Covid-19 loan window aims to increase the country’s food adequacy level.
Under the SURE Covid-19 loan program, eligible farmers and fishers may borrow up to P25,000, with no collateral, zero interest, and payable in 10 years.
Eligible MSEs may avail of up to P10 million, zero interest, and payable in five years. A micro or small enterprise may be a single proprietorship, partnership, corporation, cooperative or association.
“MSEs will be allowed to borrow, provided that small farmers and fisherfolks should be the end beneficiaries,” Auxillo said.
Agri-Negosyo (Anyo) Loan Program
The Anyo Loan Program is another DA initiative that offers zero-interest loans for small farmers and fishers and registered micro and small agri-fishery enterprises which may be sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, associations and cooperatives.
Eligible individuals may borrow a maximum loanable amount of P300,000 while registered micro and small enterprises, depending on its size, may borrow a loan amount of P300,000 up to P15 million. Loans are payable for up to 5 years.