To help fast-track the recovery and growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and cooperatives that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through the power of digital innovation, Aboitiz Foundation, Inc., the corporate social responsibility arm of the Aboitiz Group, partnered with Smart Communications to launch ‘Aboitiz Smart Cooperatives.’
Launched last October 28, the ‘Aboitiz Smart Cooperatives’ provided the 19 beneficiaries with a ‘Digiskarte Package’ which includes a starter kit from Smart composed of sim cards, LTE handsets, retailer kit with load wallet, customized store signage, ICT training, and other freebies supplemented by a mentoring program. The initiative is part of the ‘Byaheng Digiskarte,’ the mentoring program of Aboitiz Foundation which encourages and educates more MSME and cooperatives on using digital platforms to market their products and services to boost their earnings.
Apart from providing additional revenue streams, the program aims to connect the beneficiaries to their market through the use of mobile phones and other technological tools to be able to transact business online and make the digital marketplace accessible to them.
“The ‘Digiskarte Package’ will serve as their starting point for their new business and pave the way for prosperous and innovative cooperatives. Our support does not end here, Aboitiz Foundation together with SMART will continue to guide and assist you through training and mentoring so that we can further develop your business,” said Aboitiz Foundation President and Chief Operating Officer Maribeth Marasigan.
The ‘Digiskarte Package’ is a digital tool and technology that can help cooperatives adapt to the new normal while providing sustainable livelihood and employment to their members.
“We at PLDT at Smart are one with Aboitiz Foundation sa pagsuporta sa ating mga koop—lalo na pagdating sa ‘digitalization initiatives’ katulad ng Biyaheng Digiskarte (We at PLDT and Smart are one with Aboitiz Foundation in supporting our cooperatives especially when it comes to their digitalization initiatives like ‘Biyaheng Digiskarte’). Through our ‘Digiskarte Package’ for our partner coops, makakatulong tayo sa kanilang ‘digital transformation’ para makabangon sila mula sa pandemya (We can help them with their digital transformation so they can recover from the pandemic).” said Alex O. Caeg, Senior Vice President and Head of Consumer Sales Group of PLDT and Smart.
One of the beneficiaries of the program is the multi-awarded Thanksgiving Multipurpose Cooperative (TMPC) based in Tuba, Benguet. Supported by Aboitiz Foundation since 2011, the cooperative grew from being a micro to a large-scale cooperative with 950 members at present.
“Ang pagiging digital ay malaking hamon sa bawat isa sa amin. Maraming salamat dahil ang proyektong ito ang magiging daan upang mas mapadali ang aming transaksyon sa pamamagitan ng teknolohiya. Maraming salamat dahil sa bawat byahe namin ay kasama namin kayo. Sa aking mga kasamahan sa kooperatiba sabay-sabay tayong maging madigiskarte. Maraming salamat po. (Being digital is a huge challenge for each one of us. Thank you because this project will pave the way to make our transactions easier through technology and we know you are with us in this journey. To my colleagues in the cooperative, let us all be ‘madigiskarte’ together. Thank you very much.)” said TMPC Founder and Manager Emma Golocan.
‘Byaheng Digiskarte’ is a flagship project of the enterprise development program of Aboitiz Foundation. Since its launch last April 2021, the program has partnered with several stakeholders namely the Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry, non-profit organizations, financial institutions, and other e-commerce platforms. One of its ongoing projects is a collaboration with MayaniPH and Save the Children Philippines that targets to alleviate hunger among impoverished children by providing nutritional boxes while bringing sustainable livelihood to Benguet farmers.