To help her youngest son attend college, Carmelita Aspiras opened a sari-sari store in 2012. But the endeavor was anything but easy. She struggled with the business and was plagued with problems. In the first two years, she lost a lot of money and had to deal with her constantly decreasing inventory.
It wasn’t until 2015 when Carmelita’s life changed. At that time, she joined the Coca-Cola 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) program. It was there where she learned the ropes and was trained on business professionalism, planning, and management among others. This helped improve her small business.
“I didn’t expect the positive effect it would have on my life. We really enjoyed our training because we learned a lot and experienced so many new things that we didn’t expect we would ever go through in our lives,” she said as she reminisced about her unique experiences like team building with fellow sari-sari store owners.
Carmelita is just one of over 130,000 female micro-entrepreneurs that Coca-Cola has helped through the STAR program since it was established in 2011. In line with the global campaign, the program aims to empower 200,000 Filipinas by 2020.
With a growing number of participants in the STAR program, Coca-Cola Philippines decided to measure its impact among the trainees, conducting a research from 2015 to 2017 comprised of five waves of surveys among 500 graduates.
The training proved to be highly beneficial for Carmelita as she easily put into practice her learnings like applying correct markup prices to products and paying attention to customer preferences and competition. The 5by20 Impact Report said that 97 percent of the STAR program participants found the training useful while 98 percent of them applied their learnings to their business.
With these newly-acquired skills, Carmelita also became a part of the 96 percent of women who reported business growth in their sari-sari stores and whose income, revenue and inventory size increased by 12, 17, and 20 percent, respectively.
Now, with a thriving sari-sari store business, Carmelita moves forward with entrepreneurial confidence, applying what she learned to other supplementary ventures such as selling home-cooked meals, offering made-to-order Filipino desserts and baked goods, and even selling clothes and shoes. She funds her side projects with income from her business to continuously invest towards a more stable financial future.