Sec. Lopez during the appreciation and awarding ceremonies of supermarket chain Puregold
Sec. Lopez during the appreciation and awarding ceremonies of supermarket chain Puregold

Filipino sari-sari store owners can count on the government to finance their dream expansion through the Pondo para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3), the country’s trade chief said.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez encouraged sari-sari store owners, who belong to the sector of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to consider expansion plans through the P3 program, a direct alternative to the “5-6” lending scheme.

“Sari-sari stores form part the economic backbone of the country. Providing them more opportunities can only mean greater economic development,” said Sec. Lopez during the appreciation and awarding ceremonies of supermarket chain Puregold on 14 June.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s P1 billion financing program offers an affordable, MSME-friendly micro-financing system, whose priority beneficiaries include microenterprises and entrepreneurs that do not have easy access to credit, or are accessing credit at very high cost, such as, micro-entrepreneurs, market vendors, agri-businessmen and members of cooperatives, industry associations and co-operators.

“Loanable amount has interest rate ranging from 20 to 25% per annum with no collateral requirement. This rate is substantially lower than what is being charged by 5-6 loan sharks,” he said, adding that the government hopes that through the P3 Program, it will be able to reach and help even the smallest of entrepreneurs in the countryside.

The trade chief expressed hoped that Puregold continue its advocacy of assisting sari-sari store owners increase their potential earnings through the Tindahan ni Aling Puring program, as it complements DTI’s grand objective of helping MSMEs level-up and contribute to national development.

Meanwhile, reading Pres. Duterte’s message for the event, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa urged stakeholders to make MSMEs “globally competitive through sustainable and innovative business practices.”

Puregold’s Lucio Co highlighted the significance of sari-sari stores as the immediate go-to pantry of the common Filipino household, adding that establishing one has likewise become “the business of choice” of returning overseas Filipino workers.

“The shared vision to address inequality and reduce income gaps is the thrust of the Durtertenomics. The current growth story of the Philippines can only matter more to our countrymen if it reaches the bottom of the pyramid,” said Sec. Lopez.

“As we strengthen the industries to create more jobs, DTI’s programs are available to encourage and to inspire Filipinos to give entrepreneurship a good try,” he added.

Puregold, which currently caters to about 10 million Filipino households and employs 52,000 and growing, recognized its top 20 gold members, as well as those with highest sales, highest growth and best merchandise.