Grameen Foundation announced the launch of its COVID-19 RELIEF (Response to Enhance Livelihoods of Individual Entrepreneurs and Families) in the country to provide immediate relief and longer-term recovery support to 3,500 women entrepreneurs running microenterprises.
The program, which is supported by J.P. Morgan, will target vulnerable individual female microentrepreneurs and their families located in Metro Manila and Cebu City.
“J.P. Morgan understood early that relief and recovery of individual entrepreneurs, especially women, would be a critical step to ensuring the economic resilience of the Philippines in this time of crisis, and we are proud to partner with them on this important initiative,” said Steve Hollingworth, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation.
Quarantine protocols have restricted local travel and have shuttered stores, businesses, and offices, severely impacting on the livelihood of much of the population. Women microentrepreneurs, and likely primary caregivers, have found it challenging to sustain their incomes due to the lockdown.
Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) that traditionally support microentrepreneurs with financial and non-financial services, such as access to essential health, business and government information and linkages to additional services, are also facing constraints sustaining their businesses.
“J.P. Morgan is committed to helping address the impact of COVID-19 in communities around the world. Here in the Philippines and through our partnership with Grameen Foundation, we are tackling inclusive recovery with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable individuals as they go through these difficult times,” said Carlos Ma. Mendoza, Senior Country Officer of J.P. Morgan Philippines.
To implement this program, Grameen will collaborate with and provide technical assistance to selected partner MFIs to reach these entrepreneurs.
Under Phase I of the program, lasting three to four months, Grameen will facilitate delivery of non-cash vouchers for pharmacies and supermarkets or in-kind packages of goods distributed through MFI centers. Existing MFI client/member data will be leveraged to develop criteria for beneficiary selections.
Grameen will also employ an SMS (text) campaign to send actionable advice on financial coping mechanisms and healthy behaviors related to COVID-19 to loan officers and microentrepreneurs.
Under Phase II, lasting eight to nine months, Grameen will deliver its Resilient Life, Resilient Business curriculum to MFIs to enhance their capacity to address the needs of their members and promote financial resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. A monitoring and feedback mechanism will be incorporated to enable the MFIs to track areas where beneficiaries need additional support.