• Melo Acuna

Robredo appeals to businessmen: Keep your employees

Innovation and collaboration required to respond to COVID-19 crisis

MANILA – Vice President Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo today rallied the country’s businessmen to continuously harness innovation as it” stirs growth and creates opportunities where none previously existed.”

“In the face of challenges and threats, it transforms into a tool for survival,” she told the officers and members of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) during its 46th Philippine Business Congress and Exhibition.

She said the country can emerge stronger from the pandemic with innovation and collaboration in the service of the most affected to move forward.

The country’s vice president recalled how in her own little way and that of different non-government organizations and civic-spirited citizens pooled resources to bring the needed PPEs to the different parts of the country. She expressed her thanks to her partners who provided free shuttle service for medical frontline workers.

“Most recently, we launched two initiatives under our Bayanihanapbuhay program. The first is an online job matching platform called sikap.ph. It specifically homes to service blue-collar workers that recently became unemployed, and also tried to localize matching, taking into account the challenges of public transport and the risk of spreading COVID across communities,” he said.

She also mentioned here Bayanihan mart through iskaparate.com which she described as eCommerce platform for micro-entrepreneurs who are hard-pressed in the digital economy.

She noted the recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) Enterprise Survey which described the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. Despite the fact some may still have the capacity to withstand the shock of the pandemic, the country’s most vulnerable businesses “have been brought to their knees” as 71.2 percent of the total number of microenterprises underwent temporary closure and faced the most serious shortage of working capital where 36.3% of those surveyed said they expect to run out of funds within one to three months.

“As many of us might know, ninety-nine percent of all businesses operating in the country fall under the MSME category accounting for more than half of the nation’s jobs,” she explained.

She added when MSMEs fold, the jobs are severely affected “and when wages stop, families go to sleep fearful of where they will get their next meal.”

Vice President Robredo said as anxiety builds up due to the threat of infection and the difficulty in meeting basic needs. With the lack of confidence, people hold on tighter to the money in their possession “causing the flow of the economy to stagnate.”

“Over time, even the stronger, larger businesses might buckle,” she explained.

The country’s vie president called in businessmen to do the best to keep their staff employed and look at the supply chains and “see whether some of our needs can be sourced from smaller, local producers.”

In closing, she called on the PCCI crowd to consider the long-term possibility of working from home, “by reorienting all systems and technologies to confirm with the demands of the new normal.” She explained everyone is called to embrace the changes and seize it “to reshape the present into a better future for all.” (Melo M. Acuña)

Vice President Ma. Leonor Gerona Robredo. (File Photo/Melo M. Acuna)

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