The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today it has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Coca-Cola to support the revival of economic activity and livelihoods in Leyte, the Philippine province most devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in early November.
Under these MOUs, USAID, P&G and Coca-Cola will help establish new sari-sari stores (small community stores) and rehabilitate damaged or destroyed sari-sari stores located in public markets. In addition, the organizations will facilitate store owners’ access to microfinancing loans and other interventions to help them get back on their feet.
Announcing the partnerships as part of a broad relief, recovery and rehabilitation plan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This partnership with P&G and Coca-Cola is a great example of how we can bring the shared resources of the U.S. government and American businesses to help the people of the Philippines revive economic activity and restore livelihoods. Sari-sari stores are the backbone of the Philippines’ consumer economy and by supporting their reconstruction and rehabilitation in Leyte, we believe we will accelerate recovery at the grassroots level.”
Under these partnerships, USAID, P&G and Coca-Cola will help build the necessary infrastructure for the operation of sari-sari stores, promote opportunities for community entrepreneurship, and improve commercial capabilities and crisis preparedness of sari-sari store owners.
USAID/Philippines Mission Director Gloria D. Steele said, “The Philippines is a close friend and a long-standing ally of the United States and we will continue to partner with and provide support to the Philippine government in their efforts to help Yolanda victims rebuild and recover from the tragedy. We will also work with Philippine Government partners in implementing disaster risk-reduction programs to help increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to withstand and recover from natural calamities.”
While both Coke and P&G say they have donated over $2 million each in funds and goods to post-Haiyan relief efforts (and Coke suspended advertising in the Philippines in order to redirect that money to aid, as well), both companies say they recognize the need for broader, longer-term aid to foster the region’s economic recovery.
“P&G is committed to supporting the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Philippines. We recognize that now, in addition to the emergency response and disaster relief, there is need for a longer-term effort to restore livelihoods and regenerate the economy of Leyte,” said Sumeet Vohra, President and General Manager of P&G Philippines.
Through the partnership with USAID, P&G Philippines says it will leverage its portfolio of brands, along with its distribution network, its commercial expertise, and its history of partnership with sari-sari store owners to achieve this goal.
Guillermo Aponte, President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines said, “We still have a long way to go and more resources are needed to rebuild the areas affected. One organization cannot do it alone, and so we at Coca-Cola are happy to work with government, civil society groups and other corporations to rebuild the communities impacted.”
Aponte said that Coca-Cola Philippines will leverage its STAR (Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources) program, part of its broader 5x20 initiative, to help female sari-sari store owners rebuild their livelihood through a combination of social interventions, training and access to resources.
By partnering with USAID, P&G and Coke are stepping up in a way that consumers apparently have come to expect: According to Cone Communications’ 2013 Disaster Relief Trend Tracker, 87 percent of global consumers believe companies must play a role in natural disaster response — in part because the majority (69 percent) thinks corporations are better able to effectively respond in times of crisis.
Last month, in the wake of Superstorm Haiyan, CERES released a report detailing U.S. expenditures relating to extreme weather events, which cost U.S. taxpayers $100 billion for federal crop, flood, wildfire and disaster relief in 2012.