By Tom Noda
With the aim of transforming ?sari-sari? store owners into technology entrepreneurs, tech firm Qualcomm has partnered with social enterprise group Hapinoy to enable micro-businesses to generate additional income and provide financial services to underserved communities.
The US-based chipmaker, via its Qualcomm Wireless Reach initiative, will provide primary funding for Hapinoy’s Mobile Money Hub project along with project management support and wireless expertise.
Hapinoy co-founder and president Mark Ruiz said are about one million sari-sari stores in the Philippines. They are known as small neighborhood convenience stores that are normally set up in homes.
Hapinoy launched its project in 2013 and is focused on educating sari-sari store owners on how they can use mobile technology to expand their business.
Mantosh Malhotra, senior director for business development of Qualcomm Technologies, said the Philippines is a vibrant mobile market and Filipinos today are enjoying a connected lifestyle as reflected on the country’s mobile penetration rate at 101 percent, and a 22-percent year-over-year increase in smartphone adoption in 2014.
Aside from Qualcomm, Hapinoy also collaborating with MasterCard, Smart Communications, and globally renowned Grameen Foundation to enable the use of dual-SIM Android smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processors to access mobile financial services like mobile money, remittances, and bill and loan payments.
Besides smartphones, mobile applications using the Smart Money platform is also being utilized in the project.
Malhotra said since the inception of Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub project, it had trained 3,000 store owners who don’t know how to run the systems and technology, but also can’t afford a point-of-sale device or card reader.
According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas head of inclusive finance advocacy Pia Roman-Tayag, around 37 percent of municipalities in the Philippines have no banking office and are part of the 2.5 billion people worldwide, especially in emerging regions, that lack access to financial services like banks and credit cards, and are burdened to make payments or transfer money.
Also, small retailers such as sari-sari store owners have difficulty justifying the cost of a point-of-sale device or card reader. They have, however, mobile phones which they can use for purchasing goods and services, paying bills, and sending and receiving money.
Ruiz explained the mission of Hapinoy’s small retail store program is to empower and equip “nanays” to be effective micro-entrepreneurs that can turn their stores into a sustainable family business.
“In Hapinoy, we train sari-sari store owners mobile literacy or how to offer mobile-based financial solutions such as mobile money, remittances, and bill and loan payments using smartphones,” Ruiz said, noting the female micro-entrepreneurs now understand the business value in owning a smartphone and acquiring a mobile wallet.
Ruiz added micro-business owners are supplied with mobile literacy training, access to capital via microfinance institutions (MFIs), and technology through mobile money operators and technology developers.
Other project stakeholders Grameen Foundation and MasterCard play significant roles. Grameen provides advisory services on strategy development, design, and implementation plan, while MasterCard provides project funding, training, and scholarships to storeowners who wish to enroll in the Mobile Money Hub project.