SOCIAL enterprise HaPinoy is closely working with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) to revive the sari-sari store economy in Yolanda-ravaged areas in Eastern Visayas.

HaPinoy president Mark Ruiz said they will initially help 2,000 sari-sari stores in Leyte for the livelihood rehabilitation effort that will benefit 100,000 residents to have access to basic commodities.

“The value chain has been destroyed and because of that residents lost access to basic goods. The disruption of the supply chain resulted in higher prices of goods even to basic commodities like coffee and sugar,” Ruiz said in a press conference.

While relief operations helped make goods available, it didn’t address the sustainability of supply. “When sari-sari stores slowly re-emerged, the value chain was not really re-established,” said Ruiz.

To help restart the sari-sari store sector, Ruiz said they will coordinate with all involved in the industry, including local producers, to re-establish the value chain and stabilize prices of basic commodities.

The help will come in form of building store infrastructure, access to working capital through micro-financial institutions (MFIs) and training on disaster preparedness and post-trauma.

Ruiz said the working capital is pegged at around P10,000 to P15,000 but it will be given out as a loan at a lower interest rate and once recovered, will go into PBSP’s resiliency fund that will be used to help other beneficiaries of typhoon Yolanda or to for future calamities.

PBSP executive director Rafael Lopa said they already tapped the five largest MFIs in the Visayas to help facilitate the project. They are also planning on how they can scale the initiative to include other areas devastated by the typhoon.

The strategy of the resiliency fund is not only meant to fund the sari-sari stores but also boats, shelter or even food warehouse to ensure access of supply during floods and other calamities and to sustain livelihood, he said.

Anna Meloto-Wilk, president of Gandang Kalikasan Inc. and a staunch advocate of social entrepreneurship, emphasized the importance of social enterprises as part of key strategies in rebuilding the livelihood and economy of calamity-affected areas.

“The social entrepreneurship idea is really on inclusive wealth creation for social good, targeting the most vulnerable sector in the society,” said Wilk.

Social entrepreneurs in the country recently convened for a two-day Social Enterprise Rehabilitation Visioning and Engagement (Serve) conference in Cebu at the Diplomat Hotel to discuss the social enterprise sector rehabilitation agenda. They also took up the need for a platform focused on building sustainable livelihood systems and better mechanisms for the delivery of basic needs and services among those affected by Yolanda.

The conference was attended by 100 participants. It launched the Reconstruction Initiative through Social Enterprise (Rise) as a multi-sectoral platform to support the development of a social enterprise sector to work on recovery, restoration and rehabilitation focused on farmers, laborers, fishers, indigenous people, the entrepreneurial poor, persons with disabilities and the women and children of these marginalized groups.