Building Better in the New Normal
Sixto Donato C. Macasaet
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us on a “new normal,” with many of us still coming to terms with the radical changes enforced in our lives.
From the way we do business, to our health habits, and even in our social interactions, COVID-19 has pushed us to rethink our priorities and strategies.
At FSSI, since the start of the enforcement of community quarantines in March 2020, we have implemented work-from-home schemes, with targeted planning of the delivery of urgent tasks so we can still service the needs of partner social enterprises (SEs).
We have also announced extension of due dates for all loan payments during the quarantine period and are discussing loan restructuring for some partners. Aside from these, FSSI has developed a Business Rehabilitation Loan, a loan package with discounted interest rates to help current SE partners cope with new or additional business requirements as they work to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the ensuing community restrictions.
The government has announced it is ramping up support to workers of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including SEs, whose workers have lost their wages and/or whose business operations have been affected. You can find a compilation of the summary of
these programs in the newsletter. What we aim to do at FSSI is to complement or help fill the gaps for social enterprises, especially those of the poor and vulnerable. We are currently revisiting and adjusting our plans for the rest of the year so we can be more responsive to the challenges brought by COVID-19. We also intend to review our Strategic Plans for 2020 to 2024.
Even when the lockdowns end, experts forecast that the fight against the coronavirus would be far from over.
In addition to the pandemic, our country has also been recently hit by attacks on our democratic rights and freedom of expression. In early May 2020, the government shut down ABS-CBN. Earlier this month, it rushed the approval by Congress of the Anti-Terrorism Act, and on June 15, Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos, Jr. of Rappler were convicted of cyber-libel. These certainly run counter to FSSI’s vision of “Empowered communities upholding social justice, respecting integrity of creation, and realizing fullness of life” and to our core values of inclusivity and good governance.
Facing these medical, socio-economic, and political storms, what we can, and should do for now is to hold the line, brave the winds, act in solidarity with one another, and collectively build a better normal and a future with fullness of life for all.