MAKATI, Philippines – Small businesses looking to restart operations during the pandemic can still apply for interest-free, unsecured government loans by creating an account at www.BayanihanCARES.ph.
With a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, small business owners can enter their relevant information and upload scanned identity and business documents to the website, which is operated by the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), an agency attached to the ministry. of Commerce and Industry (DTI).
SBCorp is responsible for the implementation of the Bayanihan CARES (Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises) program, which makes PhP 8.08 billion available to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), cooperatives, hospitals, enterprises tourists and returnees or displaced abroad. Filipino workers (OFW) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the program, qualified loan seekers can apply for loans ranging from PhP 10,000 to PhP 5.0 million, depending on their sales figures and business assets before the pandemic, if any.
These loans are repayable up to a maximum of four (4) years, including a maximum grace period of 12 months for non-tourism MSMEs, or a maximum grace period of 24 months for tourism MSMEs accredited by the Ministry of Tourism (DOT) or registered as Barangay Micro Business Enterprise (BMBE). Successful loan applicants will only have to pay a one-time service charge, set at a maximum of eight (8) percent for a four-year loan term. Lower service charges apply for shorter loan terms.
SBCorp has also stepped up its requirements to allow more MSMEs to benefit from the program’s highly concessional lending terms. For example, MSMEs that have been operational for at least one (1) year from the date of their application are now eligible for the loan. SBCorp’s previous requirement was that MSMEs be operational for at least one (1) year before March 16, 2020, when the community quarantine was imposed in the country. This is in recognition of the fact that while most MSMEs have chosen to adapt to the new operating environment, some have chosen to look to or create entirely new businesses.
The Bayanihan CARES program also has a special window for the tourism and travel industries (CARES for TRAVEL) with a fund allocation of PhP 4.0 billion, and a start-up loan program for repatriated or displaced OFWs. who wish to start their own business. (PRESENTS THE HEROES).
To date, SBCorp has approved 31,700 loan applications for MSME. These correspond to a total loan amount of PhP 4.84 billion.
It’s important to stress that SBCorp is solely focused on making funds available to small business owners, according to its president and CEO Ma. Luna E. Cacanando. And during the pandemic, that goal has not changed, Cacanando said.
“SBCorp operates on the premise that we should not duplicate what the major players in MSME finance are already doing,” she said. “We are not competing with what is already working in the market. What we need to do is close the gaps for small businesses that banks and credit companies do not yet find attractive to finance relative to their profit targets and cost management thresholds. We are developing and operating our funding programs for MSMEs in this direction. “
And like any other organization, SBCorp has been disrupted by the pandemic.
But instead of being crippled by the lockdown, he was able to slowly transform, Cacanando said.
Between March and May of last year, the organization “fundamentally rethought how to safely provide a rapid financial response to affected small businesses which we knew will increase in numbers as the pandemic crisis unfolds. prolongs, “Cacanando said.
She added, “We had to strategize to design, develop and finance the IT application systems and IT connectivity that we needed to put in place. The challenge has been increased by the need to limit most of our meetings to online sites, instead of the usual face-to-face environment that allows for more interactive brainstorming. And we had limited IT equipment at the start compared to the emerging scale of digitization required. “
Today, its fundraising programs – including Bayanihan CARES – are fully electronic and fully operational, according to Cacanando.
As a result, the agency’s MSME borrowers no longer need to visit its offices, unless they request it.
As it celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, SBCorp looks forward to improving its relationships with its stakeholders, small business owners.
“SBCorp’s greatest achievement to date is its attitude of oneness with the MSME industry. Together with our parent agency, DTI, we understand the strengths and weaknesses of MSMEs, as well as the threats and opportunities they face, ”said Cacanando. “In addition, we understand our responsibility to help level the playing field in their favor. So, in all modesty, we serve as a strong and competent advocate for them. “
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