What kind of help MSMEs need in the time of Covid-19 outbreak?
The Plight of Business Owners. The state of business owners is quite uncertain how long this pandemic and lockdown will last. Covid-19 crisis is a human tragedy affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The impact on the global economy affect the business perspectives and continue to grow as the outbreak evolves. This article may fall rapidly out of date as of March 31, 2020.
Operations. Business process will still continue particularly the food and manufacturing industry, logistics, and the rest of the essential services.
Highly affected are the small enterprises that continue to shell out for expenses concerning the employee salaries, the electric bills, office space rents, internet bills, water bills, bank interest, check clearing, membership fees and taxes.
Moratorium. MSMEs need an action plan from the government. Assistance through stimulus package should ease the burden of enterprises from the impact of Covid-19 crisis.
Bayanihan Heal As One Act 2020. The law answers the concerns of the business owners. [https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2020/2/24/republic-act-no-11469/]
(z) Move statutory deadlines timelines for the filing and submission of any document, the payment of taxes, fees, and other charges required by law, and the grant of any benefit, in order to ease the burden on individuals under Community Quarantine;
(aa) Direct all banks, quasi-banks, financing companies, lending companies, and other financial institutions, public and private, including the Government Service Insurance System, minimum of a thirty (30)-day grace period for the payment of all loans, including but not limited to salary, personal, housing motor vehicle loans, as well as credit card payments, falling due within the period of the enhanced Community Quarantine without incurring interests, penalties, fees, or other charges. Persons with multiple loans shall likewise be given the minimum thirty (30)-day grace period for every loan.
(bb) Provide a minimum of thirty (30)-day grace period on residential rents falling due within the period of the enhanced community quarantine without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges.
What is existing. When the declaration of Luzon Enhanced Community Quarantine took effect from March 17 to April 12, 2020, business establishments and all non-essential offices had to close down. Given that the business is put into halt, the government prompt the business owners to show sympathy towards the employees mostly the daily wagers by paying them their salaries.
Some of the businesses are worried how to survive with depleting resources. The expenses are not cut-off. Should the government ready to compromise, the least they could do is subsidized the small business operators for the employees’ salary. Maybe by providing them relief for the owners, for the employees, and vendor’s family. All kinds of direct and indirect taxes should be waived, bank interest waiver, loan waiver until the lockdown period, better if it can be extended for two months. Think about the loss they have incurred.
Quick Solution. Business transition on some parts of your business, ideally to adopt the digital set-up and trends mainly to identify the gaps and opportunities. Convert your market to generate leads and sell your service online.
For entrepreneurs looking for financial support, there are list of non-bank lending institutions offering business loans with low interest rates in the country.
Government Initiatives. As of April 4, 2020, DTI release a Memorandum Circular (MC) 20-12 for Residential and Commercial Rents for micro, small, and medium enterprise businesses during ECQ. The 5-page memo can be access through UP ISSI facebook page post.
Policies for the new normal. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Technical Working Group for Anticipatory and Forward Planning chaired by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is currently preparing to provide recommendations to rebuild business and help the country’s economy adjust to the “new normal.”
“As this pandemic affect various sectors, it is important for us to be able to characterize what this new normal would mean to each and every segment of the population. We are currently crowdsourcing for inputs on how the whole of government can address the challenges the country is facing,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.
Business Continuity Tips. Enterprise affected by the Covid-19 pandemic needs to evaluate a Preparedness Check inclusive of the following key concepts:
- Workplace safety
- Employee safety
- Communicating with partners and suppliers
- Maintaining available technology by reviewing online solutions for marketing strategies and delivery of goods.
- Make use of different communication channels
- Interact with audience by responding with the inquiries and questions from your customers
- Monitoring company finances
- Keep track of the crisis situation
- Do business development research
- Look for reliable online resources to increase business resilience and adopt to business disruptions efficiently.
- Explore e-commerce and online banking solutions
- Stay informed
How to survive. First and foremost an enterprise needs to create a resilience recovery by assessing the present condition and planning two to three months from now what adjustments need to apply to restore business confidence. Business groups and institutions are currently arranging webinars where you can learn to response positively. Watch out for the online streams that will cover topics such as: Funding MSMEs: Post COVID-19; Local and global supply chains: Quick assessment and ways forward; Market Response and Sustainability: Where do we go from here; Crisis-Proofing Production Technologies; Institutionalizing MSME Business Continuity Plans; Skills Upgrading: How COVID-19 is reshaping the talent pool; and Stakeholders Speak: How COVID-19 Affected the movement of goods and people.
Lastly, with an entrepreneur mindset, talk about the problems and find the right people (team) to build solution one step at a time.
Updated as of 5 April 2020
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI Philippines)
Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF)
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)
This article also appeared in UP ISSI (www.issi.upd.edu.ph])
Ref: http://beta.entrepreneurship.org.ph/2020/03/31/the-plight-of-business-owners/ March 31, 2020.
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