MANILA, Philippines. March 3, 2021 – Agnes Gabatbat cooks for a living. She has been operating a karinderya in Batasan, Quezon City for six years now. Her husband lost his job because of the pandemic, and the family of 12 had to rely on Agnes and her karinderya for their daily needs.
“’Yung mga anak ko patuloy na nag-aaral kahit pandemic kaya patuloy din ako sa paghahanap-buhay. Nagtulungan kami ng mister ko sa karinderya (My children have to continue with their studies despite the pandemic, which is why I have to continue earning. My husband and I worked together at the karinderya),” she said.
Like Agnes, many small businesses were greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Agnes used to make around Php 6,000 to 7,000 per day, but due to strict quarantine protocols and financial challenges brought about by the pandemic, her sales were halved, and she eventually lost some of her customers.
To help small business owners like Agnes weather the effects of the global health crisis, Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) has partnered with Kasagana-Ka Development Center (KDCI) and Kabuhayan sa Ganap na Kasarinlan Credit and Savings Cooperative (KCoop) to assist and re-establish the operations of karinderyas from low-income communities in NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal. Every karinderya that is that is part of the program serves meals to 20 families in their community for a period of 30 days.
JGF, KDCI, and K-Coop are all part of the COVID-19 Civil Society Sector Organizations & Private Sector Coalition (or NGO Collab), a group of civil society and private sector organizations that have banded together to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on varying issues in the Philippines.
“Sinabihan po ako ng Kasagana-Ka tungkol sa Project Karinderya. Ako po ay nagpapasalamat dahil napabilang ako sa proyektong ito. Hindi po biro na makasali dito kaya malaking biyaya po ito sa akin (Kasagana-Ka told me about Project Karinderya. I’m very grateful to be included in this project, and this is a huge blessing for me),” said Agnes.
Singapore-based Temasek Foundation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the DEG (German Investment Corporation) also recognized the impact of the project and provided grants for the meal subsidy of family beneficiaries.
Food Safety Training
JGF provided karinderya owners with trainings on food preparation, food safety, and customer service. “All livelihood programs that we undertake in Jollibee Group Foundation are aimed at addressing the felt-need in communities and empowering beneficiaries so that they become self-sustaining. We have the same goal for Project Karinderya—we aim to help karinderya owners upskill themselves and develop the right mindset of persevering amid this pandemic,” said Jollibee Group Foundation Executive Director Gisela Tiongson.
Under the program, karinderya owners and their personnel were also required to wear face masks, face shields, hairnets, and aprons for safety. Karinderyas also used plastic coverings for the dishes and posted a daily menu to help customers choose their preferred food faster and to prevent overcrowding.
To ensure that the protocols and practices shared with the karinderya owners were being practiced, Health Cadet volunteers of KDCI visited karinderyas weekly during the project’s implementation to monitor the karinderyas’ compliance to the project guidelines.
“Ngayon pa lang po ako naka-attend ng ganoong seminar. Malaking bagay po ito sa akin dahil marami po akong natutunan dito. Importante po na malinis ang mga pagkain. Kailangan din nating sumunod sa mga protocol tulad ng social distancing (It was my first time attending this kind of seminar and I learned a lot from it, like the importance of food safety and following safety protocols like social distancing),” shared Agnes.
Financial help for families in need
Just like Agnes, Lilia Albario was struggling to make ends meet because her children also lost their jobs during the pandemic. She and her grandchildren are making doormats to earn. But like everyone else, the pandemic made it hard for them to sell and continue with the business. “Wala po kaming masakyan. Naglalakad pa po kami ng malayo para makarating sa palengke at makapagtinda (There was no available transportation. We even walk long miles so we could go the market and sell),” she shared.
Through Project Karinderya, financial subsidy in the form of vouchers were given to vulnerable families like Lilia’s. Beneficiaries were given vouchers for 30 days, which they used to claim food from the participating karinderya in their area.
To reach the families most deserving of financial help, KDCI, K-Coop, and JGF prioritized families with pregnant and lactating women, those with five kids under 15 years of age, and those with senior citizens and/or disabilities. “We were systematic in choosing the families who would be part of the project because wanted the project to be effective in targeting those most in need of help in the communities,” said K-Coop General Manager Maria Ana de Rosas-Ignacio.
“Kaya malaking tulong po sa amin ‘yung Project Karinderya kasi ‘yung naibibigay nila na pang-ulam namin araw-araw ay hindi na po nanggagaling sa aming bulsa (Project Karinderya is a big help because the food given to us every day does not come from our own pockets anymore),” Lilia said, adding that the food served is nutritious, with a mix of vegetables and meat.
As of February 2021, the partnership has served 30-day meal subsidies in the form of meal vouchers to 4,600 families through 230 karinderyas in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.
Organizations who would like to support or replicate the project may get in touch with the NGO Collab secretariat at email@example.com.
About Jollibee Group Foundation
As the social development arm of Jollibee Group, the Jollibee Group Foundation implements programs on agriculture, education, and disaster response with partner communities nationwide.
About Jollibee Group
Jollibee Group is one of the fastest-growing Asian restaurant companies in the world. It operates in 33 countries, with over 5,800 stores globally with branches in the Philippines, United States, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, United Kingdom, Italy, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Panama, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and India. It has eight wholly-owned brands (Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, MangInasal, Yonghe King, Hong Zhuang Yuan, Smashburger), four franchised brands (Burger King and Panda Express in the Philippines, Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Ho Wan in certain territories in China), 80% ownership of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and 60% ownership in the SuperFoods Group that owns Highlands Coffee and PHO24 brands.
Jollibee Group is a significant investor in Titan Dining LP, a private equity fund and the ultimate holding entity of the Tim Ho Wan (THW) Brand and has a joint venture with the THW Group to open THW restaurants in Mainland China. It also has a business venture with award-winning Chef Rick Bayless for Tortazo, a Mexican fast-casual restaurant business in the United States. The Group will also establish a 50/50 joint venture to operate and expand Yoshinoya - one of the largest and most recognized Japanese restaurant brands globally - in the Philippines.
Jollibee Group was named the Philippines’ most admired company by the Asian Wall Street Journal for ten years. It was also honored as one of Asia’s Fab 50 Companies and among the World’s Best Employers by Forbes. In 2020, Gallup awarded the Jollibee Group with the Exceptional Workplace Award, making it the first Philippine-based company to receive the distinction.
Jollibee Group has grown brands that bring delightful dining experiences to its customers worldwide, in line with its mission of serving great tasting food and spreading the joy of eating to everyone.