The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered people’s lives and business activities globally since 2020. The Philippine government responded by imposing enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to contain the spread of the virus causing the temporary shutdown of MSMEs in the country.

Estelita Sarmiento is one of the fish vendors in Balungao market in Pangasinan who experienced the impact of MSME’s temporary shutdown. “Napakahirap ng sitwasyon namin noon, halos maubos ang ipon ko dahil matumal ang benta. Wala halos nai-aangkat na mga isda, hindi kami pinayagang makabenta araw-araw, at tuloy-tuloy ang singil para sa upa ng aming pwesto (Our situation was very difficult then, I almost ran out of savings because sales were sluggish. There were hardly any imported fish, we were not also allowed to sell every day, and yet we were being charged daily for the rent of our place),” she tearfully shared her experience during the lockdowns.

Estelita with her sister to help out in selling due to high demand of fish in the market.

Estelita thought that her business will permanently end because her income dropped to half, just enough to feed her family for the entire day. However, her determination and perseverance prevailed.

Through DSWD Field Office 1 – Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), Estelita received Livelihood Assistance Grant (LAG) to aid her livelihood and continue its operation. Because of this, her enterprise prospered, and she was able to generate other sources of income like grilling of milkfish and a sari-sari store.

Estelita while grilling milkfish as her side hustle while selling fresh fishes

Maraming, maraming salamat sa ating gobyerno lalong lalo na sa DSWD sa binigay nilang tulong sa maliliit naming negosyo. Dahil ditto, mas napalago ko ang tindahan ko ng isda at nakapagpundar ako ng iba pang negosyo (Thank you so much to our government especially to DSWD for the financial help they gave for my small business. Because of this, I have grown my fish shop and I was able to establish another livelihood),” said Estelita.

SLP-LAG is one of the government’s responses to help poor households recover from economic losses due to COVID-19 pandemic by providing support to their new or existing micro-enterprise projects. #(by: John Chris B. Zureta, Social Marketing Officer, Sustainable Livelihood Program)