No matter where you are in the world, having a business plan, marketing projections, customer needs and sales charts are probably something that is part of your day-to-day life.
In some countries, being vulnerable to disasters such as earthquakes, floods and frequent typhoons is another huge worry. This is what the Philippines local businesses are dealing with, particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that are mainly one-man shops or family-run establishments that sit in the heart of their community.
The Humanitarian Leadership Academy and Unilever have been working together to develop a pioneering programme to provide business continuity planning (BCP) training to micro, small and medium enterprises in the Philippines.
The aim was to build the capacity of 1,000 business leaders and to accelerate pre-disaster planning and post-disaster rehabilitation in their communities. The training focused on building resilience of small-scale retailers in local supply chains, getting businesses back up and running as quickly as possible after a disaster, and contributing to enhanced livelihoods in vulnerable communities.
How to prepare before a disaster strikes?
When the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, over 6,000 lives were lost. Infrastructure is not resilient, and housing, especially for the poor, is not resistant. Many businesses are damaged by extreme weather, often there is a breakdown of security and firms are looted. Access to food, water and medical supplies can be severely constrained across the region.
There is an urgent need to have better systems and disaster plans in place to reduce the impact of crises and to ensure businesses thrive, communities can quickly recover and livelihoods are saved.
Small businesses represent sixty-two per cent of the entire workforce in the Philippines, and of the 900,000 businesses registered as MSMEs – only two in ten have business continuity plans. Typhoon Haiyan had a disastrous effect on these businesses and at least half of them have not recovered since.
Saba Al Mubaslat, Chief Executive, Humanitarian Leadership Academy, said: “The goal of this programme was to equip micro, small and medium sized enterprises with the right set of skills and knowledge and tools to assess the risks and to plan to avoid the risks that their enterprises may face in cases of natural disasters.”
The training started as a pilot in 2016, in the Philippines, and has been tailored for the type of disasters they often have to deal with: typhoons, earthquakes, and floods. However, the course can be modified for any context and for any type of crisis.
The pilot programme trained 1,000 MSMEs business leaders and other organisations in the regions of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao with the knowledge and tools to be able to assess the risks to their business, mitigate hazard impact, and continue business operations after a disaster. The programme also trained twenty-five master trainers, equipping them to facilitate BCP training for MSMEs beyond the life of the pilot programme.
Rebecca Marmot, Global Vice President, Sustainability, Advocacy & Partnerships, Unilever said: “It is essential that we prepare our business and extended value chain in advance of an emergency and help to ensure their resilience afterwards. Micro, small and medium sized businesses play a key role in disaster resilience and recovery, sustaining livelihoods and helping communities to survive and thrive.”
For more information about our business continuity planning programme, please go to http://bit.ly/infoBCP.
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