ABOUT 2,000 store owners in Cebu attended Prince Hypermart’s “Ten Dahang Karnabal” Sari-Sari Store Festival in an establishment on Ouano Ave. in Mandaue City during the weekend.
They celebrated the 25th anniversary of Prince Hypermart and the 10th year of the Sari-Sari Store Society (SSS), an organization of owners of neighborhood convenience stores.
Prince Hypermart President and Chief Operations Officer (CEO) Robert L. Go said 40,000 sari-sari stores operate in Cebu, while 245,000 are spread across Visayas and Mindanao.
Rep. Gabriel Luis “Luigi” Quisumbing, who attended the event, said that Prince Hypermart has helped micro and small business owners by providing capital and goods for their stores.
Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, whose advocacy includes the promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), commended the company for connecting with sari-sari store owners.
Cayetano said this is an example of how a social enterprise can benefit the poor and give them hope that their living conditions will get better.
He said that some micro and small business owners often borrow P5,000 for capital under “five-six schemes” and end up paying up to 240 percent interest per year.
And yet Singapore, South Korea and other bigger economies have made it a priority to lend money to micro and small entrepreneurs at low interest rates.
So, he added, if the Philippine Government allocated P64 billion for the Pantawid Pampamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or conditional cash transfers, why not allocate P1 billion per region to lend to micro and small entrepreneurs?
“If we have that program, the small entrepreneurs would no longer have to borrow from five-six lenders, but can borrow from the government,” Cayetano said.
He urged participants to post photos of their sari-sari stores on Facebook and other social media networks, and campaign for such a program.
At the same event, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said that Prince Hypermart has been an active economic driver in the community by selling affordable products and creating jobs.
Former Mandaue City vice mayor Carlo Pontico Fortuna, who represented former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, read his message. Roxas said that in 2005 when he was a senator, he started defending the rights of MSMEs, including owners of sari-sari stores, by working for the passage of the Revised Magna Carta for MSMEs in 2008.