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Grameen, J.P. Morgan partner in COVID response

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.

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Women micro-entrepreneurs are the main target beneficiaries of our program as they play a major role in decision making for their household. / Photograph courtesy of JP morgan

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.

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Be fearless against hair loss

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Medic Hair brand manager Lucio Pua has the solution for thinning hair. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF MEDIC HAIR

Thinning hair and balding has been a problem for some Filipinos for quite some time, but it does not mean that they just have to accept it, as here comes Medic Hair, the newest all Filipino-made hair loss scalp solution.

In a study conducted by the Philippine Council for Health and Research Development (PCHRD), at least 50 percent of Filipino men would experience hair loss by the age of 40.

While it’s a common condition for men, hair loss still negatively impacts most guys’ self-esteem.

For online personality, DJ and brand manager Lucio Pua, hair loss has affected the way he handles his work.

“I do have relatives that went bald. At first I thought they were just stressed, but the genetic combination is inescapable,” Pua said. “It’s bothering me a little bit, especially my line of work and of course, going out to promote my liquor brands. It’s a hassle.”

However, Medic Hair provides an effective solution for men’s hair loss problems to further boost their confidence.

Created by Nutriplus Laboratories Corporation, the innovators who produced the first ever FDA-approved anti-hangover capsules WrecOver, Medic Hair believes that early preventive measures are key to becoming fearless every day.

Specifically formulated for men, Medic Hair utilizes natural ingredients that are essential in promoting male hair growth, namely, the powerful combination of Saw Palmetto and Ginseng extract. Unlike the existing brands in the market today, Medic Hair works as an effective DHT blocker.

DHT stands for Dihydrotestosterone, which is considered the root cause of hair loss for most men. With aging, testosterone, the primary hormone for male physical growth, is converted to DHT by the enzyme 5-alpha Reductase.

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Shopee enhances brand support

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Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, is expanding its initiatives to help brands and retailers launch, scale and succeed online, starting with its annual Shopee 10.10 Brands Festival.

As more brands and retailers step up their digitalization efforts to capture a growing proportion of online-first consumers, it is crucial for brands to find new ways to reach and engage with their consumers.

This 10.10 Brands Festival, Shopee enhances its support for brands with the launch of its Shopee Media Agencies Partner Program (SMAP) covering seven markets and the strategic program is the region’s first and largest of its kind, comprising five leading global media agencies — Dentsu Aegis Network, Omnicom Media Group, Publicis Groupe, Havas Group and Mediabrands.

Through this program, Shopee will equip media agencies with in-depth knowledge and skills on using Shopee’s suite of brand marketing tools, including advertising solutions such as Shopee Ads, products such as in-app branding assets and other value-added services.

Shopee will also provide the media agencies with a deeper understanding of e-commerce sharing best practices on store management, campaign execution, and optimization. As brands invest more in growing their online presence, SMAP will enable media agencies to leverage a broader range of e-commerce tools to maximize the return on investment of their clients’ media spend.

Also, media agencies and their clients will have the opportunity to get exclusive first-hand access to Shopee’s new marketing solutions and products.

“We’re encouraged by the growth in the number of local and international brands joining Shopee Mall, who trust and rely on Shopee to sustain and expand their businesses. Helping our brand partners make a seamless transition online, amplify their online presence and boost brand affinity has always been a priority,” said Martin Yu, Associate Director at Shopee Philippines.

“We’re excited to launch the SMAP program, which complements our existing end-to-end support system for brands to achieve success online. We will continuously innovate our platform to deliver better value for brands and their customers,” he added.

Aside from SMAP, brands can further elevate their online presence and scale their e-commerce business with Shopee’s strong ecosystem of solutions — robust logistics and warehouse solutions which enables brands to fulfill their orders with ease, especially when sales volumes are high.

It also added that with Shopee’s custom-built Shop Decoration Tool, brands can easily customize the layout of their Official Stores to reflect their brand image and identity. This is especially useful for brands to build authentic connections with their customers through enhanced brand storytelling.

As more consumers seek greater entertainment while shopping online, brands can leverage in-app features such as Shopee Live to bring together unique entertainment, real-time interactions, and instant purchases.

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PLDT strengthens defenses vs child porn

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Telecommunications company PLDT is ramping up its efforts to protect children from online predators,a s it has blocked more than 2,900 sites linked to online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

PLDT added that it is constantly working with the government to beef up cyber defenses against these crimes.

The company is also exploring opportunities with other organizations to promote children’s welfare.

After seeking the guidance of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it has integrated child-safeguarding policies into its business. These cover various processes and programs for the workplace, marketing activities, product and service offerings and trade community engagements.

PLDT and its wireless unit, Smart Communications Inc. (Smart), have also provided connectivity and technical assistance to the PNP text hotline 7444-64 for quick reporting of online sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The Philippines’ largest and only integrated telecommunications company is also going beyond protecting children in the internet. It has doubled down on keeping all its subscribers safe from malicious activities, now that more of them are spending time online whether for work or for online learning.

Angel Redoble, Chief Information Security Officer and First Vice President at PLDT, ePLDT and Smart noted that hackers have also increased their activities since the start of the quarantine.

“In July alone, our cyber security operations center has blocked more than 12 billion attempts by our subscribers to open compromised pages. That’s more than 24 times the total attempts blocked in the first quarter of the year,” said Redoble.

PLDT is also actively working with other players in the industry to provide a safe online environment for children. Last month, the Philippine Chamber of Telecom Operators urged the government to amend RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, citing “conflicting” provisions.

In their position paper submitted to the Department of Justice, the group pointed out Section 9 of the law that obliges internet service providers to notify authorities within seven days from discovery that any form of child pornography is being committed using its server or facility.

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Globe, Smart among world’s best improved mobile operators

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Telecommunications giant Globe Telecom and Smart Communications are among the world’s top 30 “most improved” mobile operators in terms of video experience and fourth generation (4G) availability, according to a report by an independent mobile analytics company.

The UK-based Opensignal Ltd. said in a report that the country’s top telco companies scored big and reached the category of “Global Rising Stars” for having comfortably above average 4G and video experience.

To be able to reach the Global Rising Stars status, a mobile operator must meet these criteria — download speed and upload experience, video experience and 4G availability.

According to Opensignal, Smart’s 4G availability rose by 13 percent to 17.9 percent from the first half of 2019 and the first half of 2020, which made the MVP-led telco win the 4G availability category.

For video experience, on the other hand, Globe saw its score rose to 32.7 percent, Opensignal said, improving its average download speed for users by 24.5 percent.

This category measures the average video experience of 3G and 4G networks for each mobile operator, while the download speed experience is gauged by the average download speed experience of users across 3G, 4G and 5G networks.

In separate statements, Globe and Smart credited the Opensignal citations to their commitment to improve their services and substantial investment for better mobile experience of their subscribers.

“As one of the Global Rising Stars recognized by Opensignal, Globe is proud to be a telco company that commits to improve data service to our subscribers. Expect more of these remarkable improvements as we continue with our aggressive efforts to upgrade the network for better connectivity and service,” said Gil Genio, Globe chief technology and information officer.

“This citation is a testament to our commitment to improving the experience of our customers. As the country’s largest and only fully integrated telco, we will continue to invest in improving our network and our services, and we will benchmark our performance against countries like Vietnam and Thailand to be better. I think every Filipino deserves that kind of service,” said Al Panlilio, Smart president and chief executive officer and PLDT Inc. chief revenue officer.

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Siomai King launches mouth-watering seasonal products

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Siomai King Express Mantho is a thick and chewy dough bun that has four variants including the Classic White Cream Mantho, Wheat, Brown Sugar, and Ube Mantho.

Online franchise sensation Siomai King now brings to the market authentic, all-time Chinese food favorites thru its online ordering portal with more choices to enjoy.

Experience the unique taste of Taiwan Beef Noodles, Pork Gyoza, Vegetarian Kuchai and regular Pork Dumplings, the oriental zesty taste of Spicy Chicken, Spicy squid and Spicy pork.

Also included in the Siomai King Express seasonal mouth-watering product line up are the unique Taiwan Asado and Bola bola siopaos that boast of rich taste, and its four Manthou line up namely; Regular, wheat, brown and Ube that can be enjoyed any time of the day.

Easy to prepare, with cooking instructions indicated on every Siomai King Express seasonal products, they’ll surely turn your dining room into a Chinese restaurant in no time!

Both Siomai King franchisees and customers  can enjoy the delectable frozen oriental choices.  As the demand continues to grow, Siomai King said it is committed to develop and innovate more of its services while adding more to its menu.

Browse online for those interested in franchising or buying Siomai King’s delectable offerings.

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ZRewards extends hand to jeepney drivers

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Z Rewards hands over a care package to a Lalajeep driver to at least ease the hardships brought about by the coronavirus disease pandemic. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF GLOBE

ZRewards by Zeal, in partnership with Lalamove and Minimart.ph, has turned over care packages composed of food, toiletries, laundry supplies, and protective equipment, to jeepney drivers and their families who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The move was part of the HELPJEEP campaign launched by the three parties last July wherein the public was encouraged to take part by simply becoming a member of ZRewards for free.

ZRewards, in turn, committed to provide care packages upon reaching its target membership milestone.

“We are proud to have gone through this initiative to help our jeepney drivers and their families together with Lalamove and Minimart. It is important for us to proactively serve the community and practice our commitment to make sure that no Filipino is left behind,” said Glenn Estrella from the Zeal Entrepreneur in Residence.

ZRewards is the country’s newest one-stop shop for premium and solid deals, discounts, and vouchers ranging from food, beauty, health and fitness, entertainment, among other offers, redeemable at online shops and physical stores.

For the HELPJEEP campaign, ZRewards partnered with on-demand delivery company Lalamove to access the Lalajeep drivers who were among the hardest hit by community quarantine restrictions.

The jeepney drivers who lost their livelihoods were taken in by Lalamove in agreement with the Quezon City local government unit. Instead of carrying passengers, Lalajeeps carry goods for businesses which need a more affordable means to deliver their products.

Minimart.ph, on the other hand, provided a generous discount for the items as well as free packaging and free delivery to the QC distribution site designated by Lalamove.

“The partnership with Zeal and Minimart is aligned with our goal to empower our Lalajeep community to continuously reach out to them. The jeepney community was among the most heavily affected by the pandemic, and we are very happy to continue to provide them a means to earn, and moreover, deliver possibilities of having a care package for them to provide essential goods,” said Lalamove Philippines managing director Dannah Majarocon.

ZRewards continues to support the stricken communities and anyone can help by signing up for free at https://zeal.ph/signup. ZRewards members will also benefit from the different discounted offers from a wide array of merchants such as Flowerstore.ph, Minimart.ph, Melo’s Steakhouse, Beauty Scout, ZALORA Philippines, The Naturale Market, Audio-Video Solutions Corporation, Avignon Clinic, Digits Trading Corp, Harem Inc, AJ Wellness Corporation, IAJ Wellness Corporation, papemelroti, Malongo Atelier Barista, The Smile Bar, Chris Sports, Toby Sports and Trident Food Holdings Inc.

ZRewards by Zeal is a brand of 917Ventures, the largest corporate incubator in the Philippines and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Globe.

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Batangas, Muntinlupa vie in We Love Cities 2020 tilt

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The cities of Batangas and Muntinlupa are in the running for this year’s leg of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)’s We Love Cities Campaign — a public engagement initiative that aims to raise awareness on the sustainability progress being made in these cities as well as inspire citizens to become a part of the process.

Launched by WWF in 2013, the campaign engages people across the globe in promoting sustainable urban development by voting for their favorite finalist and posting improvement suggestions for these cities.

It also gives the general public an opportunity to celebrate, vote and upgrade their city through suggestions made and addressed to decision makers.

Since its inception, over 150 cities have participated and more than 100,000 citizen improvement suggestions have been shared with city officials.

With cities accounting for 70 percent of carbon emissions worldwide and playing a pivotal role in generating the global GDP, they are encouraged to share climate mitigation plans centered in their critical role of building a sustainable and climate-safe future, taking into consideration their influence and power to transition to a more stable climate.

Atty. Angela Ibay, WWF-Philippines’ Climate and Energy program head, expressed her appreciation for the country’s local qualifiers this year as they participate in this campaign to promote sustainable urban development.

“Even at a time when cities are addressing the effects of the pandemic, our finalist cities are showing that getting its residents involved in this campaign would enable the cities to further share and strengthen their actions towards sustainable development and hopefully inspire and empower others to do so,” she said.

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Araneta City beefs up COVID response

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A safety initiative implemented three years ago has allowed Araneta City to come prepared in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

In 2017, Araneta City started installing energy-conserving Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) modules for air sanitation at the Gateway Mall and Gateway Tower.

The UVGI — installed in an establishment’s air handling unit — uses UV light to kill or inactivate microorganisms that may be harmful to human health and a total of 48 UVGI modules were installed in Gateway Mall and 92 UVGI modules in Gateway Tower for improved indoor air quality to match most commercial establishments.

Araneta City partnered with MSL Global Corporation, a local company that specializes in innovative ventilation solutions focusing on UVGI as its core technology.

The company has been promoting ASPIRO UVGI in the Philippines since 2011.

By March 2020, COVID-19 began spreading in the country, compromising health security and daily life operations.

While it was initially believed that the virus is spread through close contact, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in July confirmed that airborne viral transmission is also possible in indoor settings.

The WHO finding supported the position document of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in April, which recommended ventilation-related strategies — which include UVGI — to mitigate the spread of virus indoors.

Araneta City’s foresight has played a contributing role in its preparation for scenarios such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

As validated by AHRAE’s position document, Gateway Mall and Gateway Tower came ready in terms of robust indoor air management.

The UVGI initiative program started years ago now complements the City of Firsts’ safety guidelines and protocols to keep the Gateway properties safe for shoppers and tenants.

“With the UVGI modules, we now embrace a ‘multi-barrier approach’ for viral transmission control. Apart from our efforts to educate people with proper hygiene and to put in place government-mandated safety measures, we have also utilized energy-efficient technology as an additional intervention for preventing the spread of virus at Araneta City. Indeed, safety comes first at the City of Firsts,” said senior vice president for Operations Antonio Mardo.

To keep Araneta City proactive and vigilant in promoting public health and safety, Mardo added that they are planning to install more UVGI modules in other malls and properties at the City of Firsts soon.

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Rebisco, DepEd join forces

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Keeping the Filipino bayanihan spirit alive, the Republic Biscuit Corporation (Rebisco) recently launched new programs to aid the continued education of school children during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

As the Department of Education (DepEd) pushes for online learning at home to curb the spread of the virus, Rebisco has come up with a series of learning materials in various formats that both educators and students can use.

In July, Rebisco began its distribution of supplementary learning kits to 240 public schools in NCR which contains school materials such as pencils, crayons and other basic school supplies.

According to Quezon City, Pasay and Las Piñas school divisions, Rebisco is the first private stakeholder to respond to DepEd’s “Bayanihan Para Sa Paaralan” which seeks for support from private sectors in producing modified learning materials fit for home education.

As the effects of the global pandemic were utterly unexpected, support from private entities are very crucial in accomplishing all planned activities for restructuring and reorganizing the education system to cope with the changes.

Supplementary activity worksheets were also produced by Rebisco and will be incorporated into the printed modules that the DepEd will distribute to students once the school year officially starts on 5 October.

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