Many business owners especially micro and small enterprises were not prepared when COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. It brought unprecedented challenges that resulted in business disruptions, job losses, travel restrictions which affected the lives of everyone.
While it is difficult to predict when the pandemic will be over – unless there is a vaccine available already, there are inspiring business owners who turn this challenging time into an opportunity for them to innovate and develop other products in order to survive and thrive.
Here are some businesses that are pivoting their way through the pandemic:
1. From handcrafted leather bags to handcrafted leather mask
Harley Dave Beltran, owner of Handcrafted by Harl’s, has been running his business since 2014. His business is known for producing unique and innovative genuine leather products such as bags, wallets, keychains, and other customized items.
Aside from this, he also provides opportunities and employs persons with disabilities and underprivileged craftsmen.
He was among the entrepreneurs who were caught off guard by the COVID-19 pandemic. But with his entrepreneurial spirit, he managed to pivot and started developing an essential item needed during the pandemic.
From handcrafted leather bags, Handcrafted by Harl’s managed to come up with handcrafted leather mask and called it ‘maska.’ Their mask is made from leather and ticog mat. Ticog is harvested by an Abre Linea weaving community in San Miguel, Leyte.
Harley’s pivot did not only save his business from the brink of closing but also provided support to the family of persons with disabilities and the local weaving community of San Miguel.
Because of the uniqueness of his handcrafted mask, it caught the attention of celebrities and fashion designer in the Philippines like Jericho Rosales, Francis Libiran, Andrew E, and more.
2. From a travel agency to delivering Pinoy street food
With strict travel restrictions, the tourism sector was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Angely Dub of Access Travel, a travel agency that has been running for the last 10 years, also pivoted in order to survive during the pandemic.
Instead of waiting for the pandemic to be over, Angely decided to pivot quickly by launching a food business that delivers Pinoy street food called Bulilit Kitchen to satisfy the cravings of Filipinos for street food like isaw. Her food delivery business has then quickly expanded into delivering meat and seafood as well.
3. From offering caramel-flavored dried mango to providing frozen food products
With Audrey Regis’ products directly targeted tourists, her business, Audrey’s Confectioneries was extremely affected by the pandemic.
Although dismayed by the situation, she gathered her creative juices in order to develop essential products to help her business survive the pandemic. From offering dried mangoes with unique flavours, she shifted into offering frozen food products.
4. From food restaurant to offering frozen food products
Food restaurants are not exempted from the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic. When enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was declared in Manila and other nearby provinces, restaurants were forced to shut down for a few months and were only allowed to reopen with a limited capacity after ECQ was lifted.
With around 12 stores around the Philippines, Rico’s Lechon has to temporarily close their shops due to ECQ. This affected their employees which are around 600 employees.
To be able to support their employees and to still offer Cebu Lechon, Rico’s Lechon pivoted to offering frozen lechon products which can be savored and enjoyed even at the comfort of home.
5. From household products to bamboo handcrafted face shield
It is no doubt that businesses selling non-essential products are the most affected by the pandemic. This is why Agricultural Engineer Junroe Barrios from M’Lang, Cotabato stepped up to help farmers during these trying times. Together with the members of Central Mindanao Green Workers Association, they handcrafted eco-friend face shields made with bamboo.
According to the Facebook page of Mindanao Development Authority chairperson Manny Pinol, the group is just starting the enterprise and supporting their products will help them establish a formal manufacturing area.