Grameen Foundation — in partnership with J.P. Morgan — recently announced the launch of COVID-19 RELIEF (Response to Enhance Livelihoods of Individual Entrepreneurs and Families) in the Philippines.
The program aims to provide immediate relief and longer-term recovery support to 3,500 women entrepreneurs running microenterprises.
“J.P. Morgan understood early that relief and recovery of individual entrepreneurs, especially women, would be a critical step to ensuring the economic resilience of the Philippines in this time of crisis, and we are proud to partner with them on this important initiative,” said Steve Hollingworth, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation.
With the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, it has restricted local travel and stores, businesses, and offices had to close, which severely impacted the livelihood of much of the population.
Women microentrepreneurs, and likely primary caregivers, have found it challenging to sustain their incomes due to the lockdown, while the Microfinance Institutions (MFI ) that traditionally support microentrepreneurs with financial and non-financial services — are also facing constraints sustaining their businesses.
Access to essential health, business and government information and linkages to additional services, are also problems that they are addressing.
“J.P. Morgan is committed to helping address the impact of COVID-19 in communities around the world. Here in the Philippines and through our partnership with Grameen Foundation, we are tackling inclusive recovery with a focus on supporting the most vulnerable individuals as they go through these difficult times,” said J.P. Morgan Philippines senior country officer Carlos Ma. G. Mendoza.
To implement the program — one of several in its overall COVID-19 RELIEF initiative — Grameen will target vulnerable individual female microentrepreneurs and their families located in Metro Manila and Cebu City.
Grameen will collaborate with and provide technical assistance to selected partner MFIs to reach these entrepreneurs.
In Phase I of the program, lasting three to four months, Grameen will facilitate delivery of non-cash vouchers for pharmacies and supermarkets or in-kind packages of goods distributed through MFI centers.
Existing MFI client/member data will be leveraged to develop criteria for beneficiary selections.
Grameen will also employ an SMS (short message service) campaign to send actionable advice on financial coping mechanisms and healthy behaviors related to COVID-19 to loan officers and microentrepreneurs.
In Phase II, lasting eight to nine months, Grameen will deliver its Resilient Life, Resilient Business curriculum to MFI in order to enhance their capacity to address member needs and promote financial resilience during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. A monitoring and feedback mechanism will be incorporated to enable the MFI to track areas where beneficiaries need additional support.