Coca-Cola STAR program gathers 1,000 women entrepreneurs in Cebu

MANILA — The economic empowerment program of Coca-Cola Philippines for women micro-entrepreneurs is one of the most responsive and inclusive advocacies in the Asia Pacific region.

To date, the Coca-Cola Sari-sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program has impacted the lives of more than 80,000 women.

“The STAR Program in the Philippines is a model program on how Coca-Cola can create a more direct and positive contribution to the development of the communities where we are present,” said John Murphy, The Coca-Cola Company Asia Pacific Group president.

The STAR Program has expanded to include women in agriculture, distressed and repatriated women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) through the Overseas Workers Welfare Association of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), beneficiaries of the government conditional cash transfer program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development – National Capital Region, women micro-entrepreneurs under the Kapatid Program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and GoNegosyo, and women in disaster-stricken areas.

“This year, we are doubling our efforts to bring the STAR Program to more women by partnering with various government agencies and local government units, said Gilda Maquilan, 5by20 Lead and Sustainability Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines.

During a visit to Cebu, Murphy interacted with around 1,000 women micro-entrepreneurs — some of whom are STAR scholars while others are members of the Philippine Association of Store and Carinderia Owners (PASCO). The event enjoined the women in a day of learning, entertainment, and prizes.

Coca-Cola Philippines launched the STAR Program in 2011, in line with the 5by20 global initiative of The Coca-Cola Company to economically empower 5 million women within its value chain by 2020.

The Coca-Cola 5by20 STAR Program was implemented in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

The STAR Program is designed for women micro-entrepreneurs who own and manage sari-sari stores or carinderias. It hopes to address the barriers these women face by helping them achieve business success. The STAR Program has three components: access to training, access to resources, and access to peer mentoring.

To date, the STAR Program has 390 accredited facilitators teaching and training women retailers to become better entrepreneurs. The Program is being implemented in over 47 locations nationwide and has reached more than 80,000 women.

Aside from TESDA, partners also include Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, Alay sa Kaunlaran, Inc. (ASKI), First Community Cooperative (FICCO), Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Inc. (NWTF), ASA Philippines, and National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO).

Coca-Cola, with its 19 manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, and over 10,000-strong labor force, is proactive in promoting women empowerment through 5by20.