One of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it made business operation very difficult to continue especially among small ones. The lockdowns implemented not only drastically reduce the income of almost every household, but also made procurement of needed supplies and generating needed sales by these businesses hard.

Despite these difficulties, there are still those small businesses who pushed on so as to able to provide for their families and help ease the burden caused by the pandemic and the lockdowns to the other members of their community, at least economic-wise. One of these small businesses is the sari-sari store owned by Princess Holgado, in Brgy. Poblacion 2, Sta. Teresita, Batangas.

Princess is a mother of two. Her husband is an overseas Filipino worker. She set up her store in 2019 primarily to augment the income of her husband. Prior to the pandemic, Princess shared that her store sells at least Php2,500.00 a day with an earning of Php300-400.00

“Napakalaking tulong po nitong tindahan sa aming pang-araw-araw na pangangailangan at dito na din kami nakapagpundar ng mga gamit para sa aming mga anak.  Kahit paano nakapag-ipon din po kami ng kaunti,” shared Princess.

But even before Princess’ small business was affected by the lockdowns, this source of additional income for her family was already put in peril by the Taal Volcano eruption. Last January, Princess and her two children were forced to stay in evacuation center, for safety reasons, for a period of at least three weeks. They had to closed their house and even their store and rely on the help provided to them in evacuation centers, including relief goods.

Despite the situation, Princess was still hopeful that things would be better for her family.  Even while staying at the center, Princess was already thinking of how they can get back up again. When they returned to home, she immediately reopened her store using what savings has been left.

“Buti na lang po nakapag-ipon ako. Kahit po napakalaking dagok para sa amin ang pagsabog ng bulkan, nakabangon po kami agad at ang asawa ko naman ay nakakuha ng trabaho abroad,” Princess shared.

Just as things are falling back into place, Princess’ store and her family financial stability was once more put at risk with the COVID-19 outbreak. Her husband, who just recently started his job, was laid off job and could not send money. This left her family solely surviving off their daily earnings from their sari-sari store.

“Bagamat nakakapagtinda pa rin po ako nun, mahirap pong kumita kasi marami po ang umuutang. May mga pagkakataon na na nagagamit na po ‘yung puhunan tindahahan para sa mga gastusin sa bahay. May mga pagkakataon din na ako na mismo ay nagnungutan,” Princess shared.

With their financial situation and the impending decline of her business, Princess made sure to put up a fight for her family. Last November, she signed up for the DSWD’s Livelihood Assistance Grants (LAG). The LAG is a program that aims to provide financial assistance to small-scale business owners/informal workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this, beneficiaries will be able to recover or improve their livelihood endeavors to help them continuously sustain their families.

Princess qualified as a beneficiary of the LAG and received Php 15,000.00 last December. According to her, she used all the cash assistance to restock and add more products to the store. This helped boost her sales and profit. Right now, she is selling Php 3,500.00 and earning Php 600-700.00 a day.

“Ngayon pong mabenta na ulit ang tindahan, mas natutugunan ko na po ‘yung ibang pangangailangan ng aking mga anak. Mas malaki na rin po ang naitatabi ko sa araw-araw.” Princess shared.

With the sari-sari store’s success, Princess takes pride in how she persevered to keep her business going amid the setbacks she experienced. According to her, the disasters taught her the importance of having a positive attitude and saving money for the rainy days. Right now, Princess is looking for profitable business opportunities to go with her sari-sari store.

“Hindi ko po talaga sinukuan ang tindahan kasi po ‘yun lang ang bumubuhay sa amin kapag po walang maipadala si mister. Kaya po napakalaking pasasalamat ko po sa DSWD at naipagpatuloy ko ang aking pagnenegosyo. Pagsisikapan ko pa po ang mag-ipon at maghanap ng iba pang pagkakakitaan. Para po sa oras na may mangyari po ulit sa amin, may madudukot po ako para sa aking pamilya.” Princess shared.***