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DSWD livelihood program helps businesses to rise amid the pandemic


Maintaining a livelihood amid the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the challenges faced by small Filipino business owners. Due to community quarantine declarations, some businesses which were not providing basic necessities were forced to restrict their operations or temporarily close as part of safety protocols.

To help micro and small enterprise owners, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) provided the Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) to eligible low-income families or those from the informal sector whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic and the implementation of community quarantines.

The LAG assisted in the recovery of eligible beneficiaries from economic losses by augmenting financial aid to their new or existing micro-enterprise projects and/or augmenting their expenses for pre-employment requirements.

In Pangasinan, two small businesses were able to rise again despite experiencing temporary closure during the implementation of community lockdowns in 2020.

One of the business was the Mr. Kwek food cart, owned by Jeffrey and Louela Bergonia, from the municipality of Bani which received P7,000 under the LAG program.

“Natigil ang aming negosyo ng tatlong linggo at hindi namin alam kung saan kami maaaring makahanap ng pera. Mabuti na lamang pagkatapos ng unang lockdown ay pinayagan kaming makapagbenta gamit ang isa naming cart ng kalahating araw, ngunit napakaliit ng aming kinita dahil walang masyadong tao sa labas” (Our business was halted for three weeks and we didn’t know where we could find money. Fortunately, after the first lockdown, we were allowed to sell using one of our carts for half a day, but we only earned very little because there weren’t too many people outside), shared Louela.

“Gusto na naming sumuko noon dahil sa napakalaking pagsubok na dulot ng pandemya ngunit dahil sa pinansyal na tulong mula sa ating gobyerno ay unti-unti na naming napapalagong muli ang Mr. Kwek. Malaki ang aming pasasalamat dahil hindi kami pinabayaan ng DSWD at sa patuloy nilang pag-alalay sa kanilang mga benepisyarong nakararanas ng mga ganitong pagsubok” (We wanted to give up then because of the huge ordeal caused by the pandemic but because of the financial help from our government, we were able to recover and gradually Mr. Kwek flourished. We are very grateful that DSWD has not neglected us and that they continue to support their beneficiaries who are experiencing such trials), said Jeffrey.

DSWD Foodcart
A food cart business and an ukay-ukay store from Pangasinan were able to continue to operate during the pandemic through the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG).

Meanwhile, the ukay-ukay (thrift) store of Marlon Nevago from Brgy. Matias, Burgos, Pangasinan also had his share of struggles during the community lockdowns.

“Noong kasagsagan ng pandemic halos lahat talaga ng mga negosyo nagsara, kasama na kami doon. Nahirapan kami sa mga panahon na iyon dahil natigil ang aming pinagkakakitaan” (At the height of the pandemic almost all of the businesses actually closed, including us. We struggled during those times because our livelihood stopped), shared Marlon.

He decided to borrow money from his mother and started raising ducks as their alternative source of income while waiting for the quarantine to loosen up. Finally, when his ukay-ukay business was allowed to operate again, he decided to seek financial assistance from the DSWD.

Thankfully, Marlon received P5,000 under the LAG which he used to purchase ukay clothes and surplus products to increase his thrift store’s inventory.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa gobyerno dahil isa ako sa mga natulungan, kung hindi dahil sa tulong niyo hindi ko alam kung saan ako kukuha ulit ng puhanan para masimulan ko ulit ito” (I am grateful to the government because I am one of those who received help, if not for your help I do not know where I will get more so I can start again), Marlon added.

In 2021, the SLP and LAG have provided more than P3.3 billion worth of livelihood assistance to over 109,000 participants across the country.

Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, the DSWD pledges to continue to implement programs to help low income families recover from the socio-economic impact of the ongoing health crisis.

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