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From Micro to Small: How an SGB is helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses in the Philippines

Posted By Stephanie Buck, Aspen Institute, Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The bright oranges, purples, blues, greens, and yellows advertising everything from coffee, to laundry products, to shampoo, to cigarettes are a common sight in the Philippines. These are the colors of the Sari Sari stores. Sari Sari roughly translates to “variety” in Tagalog. The stores often jut off of the owner’s home and can carry as many as 200 different types of products in one small area. And they are more than spaces to buy items for daily use. They are gathering places, an extension of the customer’s own pantry, and usually owned by women. There are upwards of a million Sari Sari stores throughout the country and while they may help their owners scrape by, they tend to remain very small and not hugely profitable.

When Mark Ruiz sees these stores, though, he sees their potential, and a question surges to the front of his mind: how can these micro-businesses grow and better meet the needs of their communities?

This question nagged at him, even while he was moving up the career ladder at Unilever, focusing on sales, customer marketing, and channel strategy. He enjoyed his work, and was grateful for the experience, but he started to feel like something was missing. His desire to help people grew stronger, and still the question would not let him go. He knew that, whatever the answer, he needed to have a business-based solution. And because of his experience and expertise in helping top Unilever clients improve their businesses through customized support in management and retail solutions, he thought, “Why not give that kind of tailored support to the smallest of store clients as well?”

And so, after seven years, Ruiz left his corporate job to co-found a social enterprise with his good friend, Bam Aquino. They eventually created Hapinoy, a play on Tagalog words that means “Happy Filipino.” After extensive research, Ruiz and Aquino determined that the main things these Sari Sari stores would benefit from would be access to capital through micro-financing, training, and new business opportunities. Focusing on these three components could help integrate the stores into the formal economy, and create alternative distribution methods to give marginalized populations better access to essential goods and services. 

Keep reading to learn how Hapinoy is helping these entrepreneurs grow their businesses from micro to small > 



Tags:  Information and Communication Technology  mobile  Southeast Asia 

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