Working Together to Respond to
Disasters in the Philippines
Marlene Latayan, 38, and Reynaldo Latayan, 40, are the owners of ‘Reynaldo Latayan’s Superstore’, a wholesale business that covers 152 micro retail stores in San Pablo City and Alaminos, Laguna Province, Philippines.
Marlene and Reynaldo recently took part in the Business Continuity Planning (BCP) training supported by Unilever. The project helps micro, small and medium enterprises prepare for a disaster by training them to create their business continuity plans.
During the training, participants are asked to identify the hazards their businesses are facing. Although their place is usually spared from typhoons and floods, Marlene says that the greatest risk to their business is fire.
Marlene and Reynaldo have turned their home and garage into a stockroom to accommodate the increasing number of volume of stocks to sell to retail stores, from personal hygiene to cooking products, and everything else. They are now staying with their parents who live next door. Their house-turned-stockroom is located in a small, one-lane street, where all the houses are beside each other. One can only imagine the devastating impact on the whole neighbourhood if a fire broke out.
This is also the case for the retail stores that they serve. These are usually small stores located in side and inner streets and attached to their owners’ houses.
Armed with the BCP training handout, Marlene goes to their local municipal fire department to share the training and the importance of coming up with a plan in case of emergencies. She also brought the centre’s leaflet to their local Department of Social Welfare and Development officer to explore different ways of collaborating.
“The training is an eye-opener for us. We realized that we should not only just be focusing on income and earnings but we really have to take care of the business.” – Marlene
Unilever Hero Priyadarshi (PD) Pandey, from Hindustan Unilever India, came to visit Marlene and Reynaldo as part of his community visit to the Philippines. PD was appointed Assistant Area Sales and Customer Manager in Jammu and Kashmir when the flooding struck the Kashmir region in September 2014.
As the region began a 15-day power shortage with communications severely restricted, PD set about ensuring the safety of every member of his team before rebuilding the ability of retailers and local partners to keep business going in hard times.
For her part, Marlene explained to PD and the BCP project team her plan to share the knowledge gained at the training with other small stores during the Kabisig Summits of Unilever (‘Kabisig’ means ‘small stores’). The summits equip Kabisig owners with skills to help them better manage their business, enhancing livelihood and promoting sustainability.
PD’s visit and the BCP training made Marlene feel special. She explained:
“Even if we are a small business, we feel that we are being given importance. We are more encouraged now to strive for the business to grow, to give back through community service and to share our learnings from the training.”
To share her knowledge to more kabisig owners, the BCP project recognises that Marlene is a possible peer facilitator who can help roll out the trainings to other sites to support 1,000 business owners prepare their business continuity plans.
Now this is what you call paying it forward—saving businesses to save more lives.
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