MSMEs in the time of Pandemic

During these trying times of global pandemic, one of the hardest hit is the MSME sector in the country. The moment the President announced the placement of Luzon under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) on March 16, 2020, the MSMEs, especially the micro businesses needed to temporarily shut down their operations. Most of these micro businesses are family-run – our local panaderya, our favorite carinderia and our friendly neighborhood sari-sari stores. They may be small in terms of asset size, but their impact in the community is quite large as many families rely on these kinds of livelihood.

A typical local bakery has an average of five (5) employees – three (3) bakers and two (2) salespersons. There are at least five (5) families relying on the survival of the business. It is in these times that business owners sacrifice their operating funds to support their people and their families. The relief goods these owners receive, instead of giving to their own families, are being distributed to the families of their employees. It is during these times we see selfless acts by people not leaving any of their employees behind.

“Maraming umaasang pamilya sa bakery. Hindi lang tayo ang apektado nito. Hindi natin sila pwedeng pabayaan.”

On March 23, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) launched its COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) to provide financial assistance

of Php 5,000 to each of the employees affected by the temporary closure of MSMEs. Lucky are those with Human Resource Officers who were able to submit their requirements to DOLE for processing of their CAMP. However, a large percentage of qualified micro businesses have not been granted such financial support. Others have submitted, but until now they still are waiting for approval of their applications. Some were not able to submit anymore due to the lack of time accomplishing the requirements and they do not have access to internet. Other business owners opted to just provide the financial support out of their own pockets. Those pending for approval are advised to apply for the Small Business Wage Subsidy (SBWS) by the Department of Finance (DOF), Social Security System (SSS) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). However, micro businesses who are not aware on how to use SSS portals would likewise not have an opportunity to file for their employees.

Several micro businesses are now trying to resume their business operations to provide essential services to the community. Thanks to the trust and hard work of the business owners and their employees. This challenge has proven that together, “We will Rise as One.”

The author is a University Extension Associate at UP ISSI. Their family owns a local bakery in Marikina. While they have applied for CAMP, the status has remained “pending approval” for some weeks now. But they remain hopeful – they can never give up for the sake of their employees and their families.


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