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A glimpse into the experiences of Filipino MSMEs during the onset of the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

These are critical times. Individuals and businesses alike have all been taking a hit due to the enhanced community quarantine or lockdown. With limited transport and business closures left and right, micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSME) are struggling to survive.

MSMEs make up 99.6% of all registered businesses in the Philippines and provide jobs for 62.8% of the country’s workforce. How can we assist the segment that has been tagged as the lifeblood of the Philippine Economy?

Let’s take a look at what digital data reveals about the plight of MSMEs during the crisis. 


The Challenges MSMEs face

MSMEs were not spared from the initial confusion regarding the community quarantine. When the government put Metro Manila in community quarantine last March 15 and the whole Luzon thereafter, there was a surge of online search on “what is lockdown” and “community quarantine.” Common search terms also included “meaning” and “guidelines” – indicating the public’s confusion on the terms used. Consequently, MSMEs had a difficult time deciding on their business operations due to unclear guidelines.

Search Terms during Lockdown
At its peak, “lockdown” was at 100 in Google Search index, while “community quarantine” was only at 37, indicating that the word “lockdown” resonated with the public more than the seemingly technical community quarantine terminology. GET THE FULL REPORT

While majority of the public was worrying about how to put food on the table and staying safe, MSME owners were also scrambling to figure out how to augment their financial resources during a crisis.

At the onset of the lockdown, questions such as “how to apply for loans?” and “how much can be loaned?” topped the online search queries and search for calamity or emergency loans peaked.

Government Reliance

Searches mentioned above were mostly accompanied by names of government agencies such as SSS, GSIS ang Pag-ibig, indicating a heavy reliance on the government as a safety net, rather than their own savings or loans from private institutions. FULL REPORT HERE

Perhaps, this is an opportunity for financial institutions to lend more of their resources not just to low-income individuals but to MSMEs as well.

The role of social media

Between March 10-15 alone, almost 30,000 posts were made mentioning changes to business due to COVID-19. MSMEs used social media to announce temporary closures and to assure the public of precautionary measures they are taking against the virus. SEE FULL REPORT

There are many other ways digital tools can help support MSME resilience and business continuity. Large companies who have MSMEs as their suppliers and providers can help their valuable partners leverage on digital platforms to keep them in business.

What this means for your organization

Despite the challenges they face, MSMEs remain hopeful – with some even shifting usual business operations to relief efforts and donation drives. 

Prayers and a positive attitude are not the only support MSMEs need. Whether you’re a large-scale business, a government agency, a financial institution or a non-profit organization, there are ways you can help MSMEs and therefore, help cushion the economic blow of the crisis.

By working together, we can build a stronger, more crisis-resilient Philippines.

Get the full report HERE.

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