Three letters guaranteed to strike fear, or should I write terror, into the hearts of every business owner are E, C and Q. Now that Metro Manila along with Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal have been placed anew under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for the next 7 days, micro, small, medium and big businesses are sure to take another hit to their still recovering bottom line.
In 2020, when the quarantine was enforced from ECQ, to MECQ (modified ECQ) to GCQ (general community quarantine), many companies could not cope with the losses and continued uncertainty and decided to close their doors. One of those affected was Maternidad Salili of GSS Enterprise.
Back in 2005, four years after her husband succumbed to lung cancer, Salili started her coil spring fabrication business in her hometown in Quirino Avenue, Davao City. The company grew steadily in the next 15 years. At the height of its success, Salili’s business counted as clients top-tier local corporations and multinational companies including Coca Cola Bottlers, Dole Philippines and San Miguel Corporation. In 2016, she was recognized as an outstanding microentrepreneur for the Mindanao region by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Philippines and Salili’s customers were forced to stopped operations. This meant less work for her and her small team of welders, and declining income. Her prospects became bleaker as the lockdown continued but Salili refused to let go of any employee, hoping for a return to normal.
While it made more business sense to cut back on her employees, for Salili it was time to reward and pay back their loyalty. When she was starting her business, it was her mostly male workers who taught her what she needed to know about spring coils and how to deal with her mostly male buyers. She learned the trade and continued learning to improve her products and how best to source quality, raw materials.
Her prayers were answered with a call from a private company in Davao asking if she could make spring coils for their contactless alcohol dispenser. They were looking to manufacture the hands-free sanitizing dispensers using foot press, and Salili’s coil springs can help their production.
How did they find her? “I was referred by some of my loyal customers when Watersource System Technology was looking for a spring coil supplier,” relates Salili. Her customers knew Salili’s business took a hit and wanted to help, largely because Salili’s positive business reputation had earned her goodwill among her clients and in her hometown.
While business has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, Salili remains grateful.
“I have five employees before the quarantine, and we still have all five of them. Instead of letting them go, we tried our best to support them throughout the quarantine period because it’s also hard to train new employees,” she says.
Salili counts all the support she and her employees received during the quarantine as blessings. “We were able to receive relief goods from our barangay. We also qualified to receive financial aid from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program,” recalls Salili.
She is also a member of the Kabalikat Para sa Maunlad na Buhay, Inc. (KMBI). Back in 2009, she qualified for her initial loan of P4,000 which she used to purchase raw materials for the continuous production of coil springs. Last year, KMBI extended loan moratorium to clients to help them recover. KMBI also continued the disbursement of loans for group and individual clients to reopen their businesses and have additional capital.
According to KMBI President Ed Jimenez: “KMBI exists in the service of microentrepreneurs like Salili around the country. Her faith gave her the courage to close one door and open another during the pandemic to keep her employees and her business running.”
This year’s International Women’s Day highlights the theme “Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World” and Salili’s grit and determination give women and men hope that brighter COVID-19 free days will come.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.