Helping Small Business in the Philippines

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Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2 

And I’m Joshua Leo. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

A group of women gather together. They live in the city of Manila, in the Philippines. They talk excitedly with other. The women do activities together. They even learn some songs. These women are all small business owners. They each own a small store. Today they are at a training event led by the Hapinoy program. Hapinoy works with women who own small stores in the Philippines. They provide training, loans and networking. And they have been seeing positive results. Today’s Spotlight is on the Hapinoy Program.

Voice 2

Visit any town in the Philippines and you will find sari-sari stores. These small neighbourhood stores are located where people live. Many brightly coloured packages hang from their ceilings. They sell basic products that people use every day. This includes products like soap to wash with or salt and flour for cooking. But sari-sari stores sell these things in small amounts. This makes it easier for people who cannot pay for large amounts. People can buy just what they need for the day.

Voice 1 

The sari-sari is also a place for people to gather. Men and women sit on long wooden benches. They talk and enjoy drinks. Children eat snack food. This is a very common part of life in the Philippines. There are about 800,000 of these small stores in the country. 30-40% of all store sales in the Philippines are through sari-sari stores.

Voice 2 

Most sari-sari store owners are women. Women operate the small stores from their own houses. They hope to make some extra money for their families. But most of the women are not trained in business. They may borrow money to open their store. Sometimes this leads to increasing debt. Sari-sari owners may also have problems with too many people buying products from their store on credit. Or they may find that their family members take things from the store without asking or paying.

Voice 1 

Microventures is a local Filipino organization that works with sari-sari stores. Microventures saw that the sari-sari owners had some particular needs. So in 2007 they began the Hapinoy program. Hapinoy provides sari-sari store owners with training and fair loans. It also provides a social and business network for small stores in the Philippines. This network helps the store owners communicate and trade with each other. Bam Aquino, Michelle Pabalan and Mark Ruiz started Microventures. Bam Aquino talked to reporter Stella Arnoy about Hapinoy. He explained why this company began the Hapinoy program:

Voice 3

“There are a lot of NGOs and social development organizations. But when it comes to business development for the very small business person, there is a large hole. That is one area we see in terms of getting the poor out of poverty. There are loans, there is capital, but there is no help to get their businesses to a higher level.”

Voice 2 

The Hapinoy program begins working with store owners through training events. These events are like the one described at the beginning of this program. Maribel Tolentino is a sari-sari owner. She received training through Hapinoy. Tolentino talked to reporter Stella Arnoy. Tolentino described the skills she learned through the training. By collecting debts from her customers, she had better cash flow, with more money in her business.

Voice 4 

“I learned how to keep a more correct record of my store sales. I noticed that my sales and cash flow had become better after this. I asked my customers nicely to pay their debts first. Then I said I would sell them anything from the store after. They were angry at me in the beginning. I suppose they later understood that it was necessary. I was just trying to make a living. Now even my own kids have learned to save up, and they use their own money to buy goods from the store to take to school.”

Voice 1 

The training helps store owners make more money. Hapinoy says that after the training most store owners make 20% more money every day. Nanay Remy owned a store for many years before joining Hapinoy. The Hapinoy website records her story:

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“Record keeping is one of the skills that Nanay Remy learned through the Hapinoy training program. Before Hapinoy she had never once made a list of her sales and costs. She admits that at first, it felt like it took too much energy and time to keep a record of everything. But she continued and forced herself to do it. Soon, she was able to see and record exactly how much she had earned each day. She could also see where her money was going. Provided with the right knowledge and skills like this, she is now able to manage her store better. Although she is old, Nanay Remy is more excited about running her store than ever.”

Voice 2 

After an average of ten months of training, the store owners can receive a loan. This money helps the store owners increase their business. They pay it back as they make money from their store. Many store owners use the loan to expand into other kinds of business. These include businesses such as bakeries that make and sell bread and sweets. Some of them rent cell phones or even have an internet cafe.

Voice 1 

The sari-sari store is also well-placed to have a positive effect in the community. The store can supply basic medicines or technology. For example, some sari-sari’s offer solar lamps. These lights use the power of the sun for energy. People who do not have dependable electricity can use them at any time.

Voice 2 

The women who own sari-sari stores see many benefits of the training. They are able to support their families. They can help their children get a good education. And they are connected to a large network of other sari-sari owners. This is a business group but it is also social support. The women meet together to encourage each other. They help each other with their businesses.

Voice 1 

Hapinoy plans to continue its work to help train and empower more women who own small businesses. They are partnering with many organizations such as Coca-Cola and Mastercard. They plan to reach more and more of the sari-sari owners in the Philippines. And through the sari-sari’s, they hope to improve life for the whole community.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at This program is called, ‘Helping Small Business in the Philippines.’

Voice 1 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.


Do you want to start a business? What would your business do?


Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on December 11, 2013

I think the work help the persons find reason to get ahead. Is necessary have the guidance of someone with experience.
Thanks Spotlight

Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on March 16, 2015

Idioms said: no business no rich. In business, maybe product is goods, services, ideas or something that can sale and buy.

I like to open own business, before to do it, I think someone who want to start the business needs to know some basic skill as understand clearly a feature of product, how to using product and guiding customer to use it, how to maintenance or repair it if problem happen.

Beside that, an onwer know how to display a product that make customer attention it at the first time they come in a shop. Return product easily and quickly is a part in business process.

Price of product also importance, customer is clever, wise now. They understand a value of product vs money out of their pocket.

Keep product in safety place, remember F.I.F.O system: First In Firts Out that made product cycle life is longer and better then.

Some of P letter needs to know in business: right Product - right Price - right Promotion - right Place - right People and right Pround.

Thanks Spotlight. GOD bless everybody.