With face masks on, personnel of Ginama continue to sell local products of MSMEs through the Ginama on Wheels. (Photo by DTI MisOr)
With face masks on, personnel of Ginama continue to sell local products of MSMEs through the Ginama on Wheels. (Photo by DTI MisOr)

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended businesses nationwide. While most stores temporarily closed or limited their services, Marle Noble decided to look for alternative solutions to continue the business and employment of her store’s personnel.

Marle is the cooperator of OTOP.Ph Ginama in Gaston Park, Cagayan de Oro. The store was adopted as a One-Town-One-Product Philippines Hub (OTOP.PH) by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in cooperation with the city government and local community of micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs).

Ginama has been operating for seven days a week since it  started in 2019. The pasalubong hub featured over 150 products from local MSMEs in Northern Mindanao, including processed meat and nuts, dairy products, local coffee and cacao, coconut products, pastries, cakes, baked products, and even condiments.

But due to the decreased foot traffic brought about by the pandemic, Marle shortened the operational hours of the store to three days only—every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Despite the lesser days, Marle ensured business continuity while protecting the in-stock products of local MSMEs from getting perished.

Marle also took the opportunity to join Department of Agriculture’s Kadiwa on Wheels by launching her own Ginama on Wheels. The program brings local products closer to the buying community through a weekly schedule per barangay. The mobile store allowed Marle to provide jobs for her employees while continuing the promotions of local products.

“Makabalo ang mga local nato na Kagay-anons nga daghay alternatibo na produkto nga gihimo sa mga Kagay-anon ra usab (Locals will become aware that there are a lot of alternative products made by locals of the city.)” she shared on why she launched Ginama on Wheels. 

Apart from the new physical store activities, Marle also embraced e-commerce. The store’s strong online presence allowed buyers to order through the Facebook page of Ginama and complete their transaction by paying through the GCash application. The new business scheme not only boosted the sale of local products while ensuring the safety of the buyers but it also provided opportunity for Ginama to reach a wider audience at a lesser marketing cost.

As new business practices are expected in line with the new normal, Marle continues to explore other options to sustain the business. As of the moment, suppliers of the store are paid through GCash and are advised to only provide the best selling products at a limited quantity to control the stocks and avoid perishables. A menu billboard will also be displayed by the window of Ginama in the coming weeks. This is to inform buyers of what is currently available in the store without having to go inside. In addition, personnel of the store are provided with complete personal

protective equipment (PPE) and are advised to strictly impose the physical distancing and sanitation measures. 

For Marle, the support of customers to local producers plays a big factor in the persistence of a business. She expressed how important it is for the community to support local products and for local MSMEs, especially those that need to operate their business amidst the pandemic, to not lose hope.

“Dili ta mawal-an og pag-asa masking kaning nahitabo sa ato. Daghan kaayo pamaagi nga atong mabuhat para makaserve ta sa atong mga komunidad (Let us not lose hope despite what is happening. There are a lot of ways that we can serve our community.”♦

Date of Release: 6 July 2020