SM Group to help entrepreneurs survive coronavirus pandemic

SM INVESTMENTS Corp. (SMIC) is launching a support program for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as it highlights the need to assist small businesses within its ecosystem to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Timothy Daniels, investor relations consultant for the listed conglomerate, said during a BusinessWorld webinar on Wednesday that SMIC is giving MSMEs financial and skills training support to help them bounce back from pandemic-related headwinds.

As of the first half of 2020, the SM Group has already allotted more than P11 billion as relief to mall tenants in its mall network. It has also launched “Kasama ng SM,” a campaign that provides local producers with marketing support and general business advice.

“We recognize that right now, MSMEs are so important in this country, both as employers and as a source of economic growth and development. We touch over 80,000 SMEs within the group, so we find it incumbent on ourselves right now to really try help them get through this,” Mr. Daniels said.

He noted SMIC puts prime importance to ensuring business sustainability, and part of this is making sure that the small businesses within its ecosystem can power through the economic onslaught of the pandemic.

“It’s a good use of your money, because what you’re really doing is you’re preventing future costs, you’re de-risking your own long-term survival as a company. It’s not a short-term, long-term tradeoff…, it’s about actually guaranteeing your own survival for the very long-term,” Mr. Daniels said.

“In our case, we’re enabling our tenants to carry on operating in our malls. We’re giving our customers ways to carry on dealing with us that reflects their new realities. We are working with the community so that they can support our own development and growth,” he added.

SMIC and its subsidiaries operate property, banking and retail businesses, employing around 160,000 individuals both directly and indirectly.

During the first semester, the group’s profits slumped 69% to P7.09 billion, as revenues dropped 21% to P185.53 billion, reflecting the impact of the pandemic across its business segments.

Amid the financial decline, Mr. Daniels said the way forward for SMIC is to assist small players that are more prone to suffering deeper blows from the current economic slowdown.

“Everybody needs to come through this together, and if we’re in a position of relative safety to do it, then it’s incredibly important for us to reach out and make sure we share that with everybody else,” he said.

“We’re in a period of having to be very adaptable, and that starts with looking at the needs of your customers, making sure that… you’re working to try and repair and preserve the supply chain for the many business partners that you have,” he added.

SMIC shares at the stock exchange closed at P921 apiece on Wednesday, up P11 or 1.21% from the last session.

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