In a bid to restart the local economy, the Davao City government seeks to reignite consumer spending by promoting the importance of buying local goods and help rebuild businesses.
Davao Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCII) president, and economist John Tria highlighted the importance of patronizing local produce as it “aids in the total recovery of the whole community”.
“What goes around, comes around. The money you spend fuels the local economy. We can all benefit from it,” Tria said.
Tria said DCCII is also promoting the adoption of technology to further increase patronage of local consumer goods among Dabawenyos.
“We, as a chamber, have promoted such through local online apps. We intend to expand this by engaging other organizations to drive a wider “buy local” consciousness that will influence consumer behavior and buying culture. This, in turn can help local businesses and create a resilient local economy against disruptions,” he said.
The city’s economy – as have others — has taken a beating following the containment measures of the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The closing down of the 22-year old Marco Polo Davao, the first five-star hotel in Mindanao, is a testament of the heavy blow the local business has suffered from the pandemic.
But as soon as the quarantine protocols and transportation suspensions eased down, DCCII and other business groups noted the local government’s swift actions to fuel recovery in the business sector.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Davao City Field Office Director Rachel Remetio said that even when the city was under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), the agency has conducted massive campaigns in several platforms encouraging Dabawenyos to get into business.
“We rolled out campaigns on the benefits of having online businesses registered to make their operations legitimate, thereby, getting the confidence of buyers to continuously patronize their products,” Remetio told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.
In DTI Davao City’s Facebook Page, links to webinars they host were shared regularly to its followers. The director said that they aim to inspire micro small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) to continue with their venture and “not lose focus despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic”.
DTI-Region 11 constantly updates its followers to avail of the free webinars hosted by them and other partner government offices. In the webinar, the audience are taught various marketing strategies and innovations useful at the time of pandemic.
Remetio also underscored the importance of performing timely facilitation of queries, requests for assistance, as well as response to complaints by the MSMEs.
“Most of the problems had to do with movement of goods/products when they reach the borders to other provinces/regions. Thus, DTI-Davao City had a direct line with checkpoint personnel, compiled all Inter Agency Task Force in Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) directives and other government orders,” she explained, adding that they made sure the MSMEs are equipped with vital information for an unhampered movement of essential goods.
Local consumers, on the other hand, were also encouraged to purchase goods sourced from their own area.
Remetio said the local agency conducted Presyo Diskwento Caravan in partnership with the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) “Kadiwa on Wheels” to bring discounted essential goods available to the communities and assist producers market their products
“Kadiwa on Wheels” are rolling stores that sell affordable fresh fruits and vegetables as well as fish, chicken, and meat from individual farmers and livelihood cooperatives.
New business owners
In the same interview, Remetio shared that in the month of May 2020, the number of business name registration by online sellers spiked to 1,032.
“The increase of online sellers manifests that the public is influenced by the campaigns,” she said.
Noting that in the previous months of the same year, there were only single digit registrants that were recorded.
Before Covid-19, the statistics showed there were seven registrants in January; nine in February; and five in March. At the start of the pandemic, 13 were recorded in April and 1,032 in May.
Lyka Picardal, 27, launched CFranca Home and Office Decor Retailing on June 11.
Picardal said she noticed the sudden increase of food businesses in the city.
Davao City resident Lyka Picardal’s business @shopcasfranca gained popularity among millennials looking for home decorations and food business owners who need materials for their promotional photoshoots.
“Food business owners need to market their products. Thus, to cater to this need, I started Casa Franca where kitchen wares can be used for food and product shoots to help them create their marketing collaterals,” she said.
With support from friends and family, Picardal continued her hustle until her business, that mainly attracted an audience online through its Instagram account: @shopcasafranca, even reached customers from outside the city.
“I believe that online businesses are great to start because almost everyone has social media accounts so the reach is really wide. And it’s one way to help the economy during this trying time,” Picardal added.
DTI-Region 11 Director Ma. Belenda Ambi, in a separate interview, said delivery services and online banking noticeably expanded during the quarantine period.
“It has not only provided convenience and access for the online selling industry but it has also offered jobs to Dabawenyos,” she said.
Keeping business alive
Patrick Co, owner of local favorite restaurant The Fat Cow, shared that the pandemic has pushed him to change his usual operations to adapt to and survive from the public health issue as a businessman.
“Instead of being a high-end dine-in restaurant, we immediately shifted to take outs and deliveries but we made sure to preserve our quality that our local clienteles love,” the 24-year-old businessman said.
The Fat Cow, while ensuring the taste and quality of their produce, also guaranteed that they “perform safety protocols to make sure everything is safe to consume”, Co said.
Even Fat Cow’s social media account regularly shares video updates where customers can see how cooks safely handle food preparations – from package to delivery.
As advised by marketing professionals, in one of DTIs free webinars, Co set-up a website for his restaurant to give easier access to his clients when shopping for food.
He also made sure that none of the restaurant staff would be terminated, so he turned them into delivery men “to assure safety transport”.
His products are ready-to-eat steaks, samgyupsal sets, and he also made his signature Fat Cow and Asian Cow favorites into microwavable frozen goods.
“In this pandemic, I have learned it’s essential to adjust quickly and really learn the customer’s demands. We also offer something new in our menu every week, everything that’s on trend we should have so people keep on choosing us,” he said.
The Fat Cow Davao quickly adapted to change to offer their customers convenience during the pandemic.
DCCI president Tria said businessmen need to be mindful of challenges and opportunities, as well as market preferences, under certain economic conditions.
“Innovation and digitalization will be critical. The recent months have shown that Davao has opportunities for business that are resilient even during disruptions, like food production and exports, BPOs, agribusiness and digital services. As the economy continues to recover more businesses will begin their restart under new normals,” he added.
Improving business climate
He said the LGU has helped businesses by waiving penalties and interest on business taxes that were falling during quarantine periods and extended deadlines for real property tax payments.
“This, of course, apart from the measures to contain and control infections,” Tria said.
The local government has provided support for local farmers by ensuring the transport of their goods to markets.
“This also helps local businesses by ensuring raw material supply especially for local restaurants,” he added.
The LGU, he said, laid out several programs such as ”Work for Davao and Eskwela Davao” that are helping many who were unemployed or lost their jobs during the quarantine period.
“As a whole, this will drive both demand and consumption which is good for business, the climate of which has improved,” Tria added.
Source: Philippines News Agency