Investing in women leads to the betterment of the family and the community, and Coca-Cola aims to empower as many as it can with its Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.
Under this campaign, women micro-entrepreneurs join a 12-week program where they are taught entrepreneurship skills, financial literacy, merchandising, and gender sensitivity among other things, said Atty. Adel A. Tamano, Coca-Cola vice president for public affairs and communications.
He added that studies conducted by Coca-Cola worldwide showed that if women handle the budget in the households, the money primarily goes to food and education.
“When you want to help communities, it makes sense to invest in women,” Tamano pointed out.
Coca-Cola’s multi-awarded STAR program has trained more than 83,000 mostly women sari-sari storeowners in the Philippines over the course of five years, according to Tamano.
He said it makes sense for Coca-Cola to partner with women micro-entrepreneurs since over half of company earnings come from the sari-sari stores in the country that now number one million.
Since it was launched in 2011 as part of the 5by20 global initiative of The Coca-Cola Company to economically empower five million people within its value chain by 2020, the program has evolved and undergone improvements.
Tamano said Coca-Cola partners with local governments, micro-finance and other groups, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to reach as many women as possible. Other partners include Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Alay sa Kaunlaran, Inc., First Community Cooperative (FICCO), Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Inc., ASA Philippines, and the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO).
STAR program recruitment
On Sunday, May 7, Coca-Cola gathered over 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Danao City, Cebu as part of a massive recruitment campaign to the STAR program. Tamano said a similar recruitment activity was first done in Davao City.
The training will happen every Saturday or Sunday of the week for 12 weeks. “We used to do the training all in one week but the dropout rate was high. We now do it in a way that works with their schedule. The sari-sari stores are also the women’s homes and they can’t be away for one week,” he said.
Women who join also receive additional benefits: they get connected to Coca-Cola’s bottling partners and learn to take advantage of promos and discounts and have access to microfinance programs.
The STAR program, which now has 390 accredited facilitators to teach and train women retailers, is being implemented in over 47 locations throughout the Philippines.