Food, News

Coca-Cola PH has opened additional centers to offer entrepreneurship skills, in an effort to further empower micro-retailers

Coca-Cola Philippines, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the City Government of Tagum andthe Tagum City Council of Women Foundation launched the iSTAR Center for Entrepreneurship in Davao del Norte on July 4, 2024.

With the opening of Centers for Entrepreneurship (CFEs) under the digital Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (iSTAR) program in seven important areas, Coca-Cola Philippines hopes to empower more micro-entrepreneurs across the country. The CFEs—which are situated in the cities of Davao del Norte, Cagayan de Oro, Taguig City, Nueva Ecija, Cebu, Bacolod City, and Camarines Sur—will function as long-term centers that provide small business owners with financial support, training, and mentorship.

Through the use of digital platforms, the iSTAR program aims to empower individuals with entrepreneurship and provide them with the skills they need to create and run retail enterprises.

“At Coca-Cola Philippines, we are committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit and unlocking the potential of aspiring entrepreneurs. The launch of the iSTAR Centers for Entrepreneurship is a testament to our dedication to foster economic growth and sustainable development at the community level,” said Coca-Cola Philippines President Tony del Rosario during the launch of the CFE in Tagum, Davao del Norte.

The program is the result of a public-private partnership between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Coca-Cola Philippines. This collaboration supports Coca-Cola Philippines’ broader economic empowerment strategy to break the cycle of generational poverty.

For more than a decade, this partnership has expanded with seven regional microfinance and non-governmental institutions across the country, making iSTAR’s modules free and accessible nationwide through the TESDA Online Program.

iSTAR aims to address key barriers that hinder the development of women entrepreneurs, such as limited access to training, resources, and mentorship. Through its expanded digital platform, iSTAR has empowered over 150,000 micro-entrepreneurs, surpassing its 2025 target of 100,000 graduates. Earlier this year, the program was showcased at the 68th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Coca-Cola Philippines, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the City Government of Tagum, and partner CSOs and microfinance institutions with the over 800 iSTAR graduates in Davao del Norte

“These CFEs represent hope, opportunity, and the collective effort of our partners like TESDA and the Tagum City Council of Women Foundation Inc., whose dedication is instrumental in making this initiative a reality. Together, with a shared vision of economic empowerment, we can bridge existing gaps and create a truly inclusive environment where micro-entrepreneurship can thrive,” added del Rosario.

TESDA also acknowledges how the iSTAR program helps bridge the digital divide among micro and small businesses. “The Philippines is lagging behind in digitalization, but with Coca-Cola Philippines introducing this digital platform to educate and empower women, we are heading in the right direction,” said TESDA Deputy Director General for Special Concerns Felizardo Colambo.

Building a network of sustainable support

The CFEs represent a strategic expansion of the iSTAR Program by establishing regional hubs that aim to provide business development, training, and support to micro-entrepreneurs.

Students of iSTAR during a learning session at the Center for Entrepreneurship in Tagum City

The hubs will be managed by a network of trusted partners, including microfinance institutions, cooperatives, civil society organizations, and the local government units of the hubs’ locations. This initiative reinforces Coca-Cola Philippines’ commitment to building the capacity of Filipinos in entrepreneurship and empowering them through the strategic use of digital platforms and the fostering of business networks.

“When the CFE was offered to us at the Tagum City Council of Women Foundation (TCCWFI), we accepted it with open arms, without hesitation. We immediately saw the need for it, not just in our area, but throughout Mindanao. We are grateful to the City Government of Tagum and Coca-Cola Philippines for bringing this initiative to our city,” said TCCWFI President Alma Uy.

Scaling impact with technology

The iSTAR Program and CFEs are among Coca-Cola Philippines’ projects that seek to leverage technology to amplify the reach and impact of its support for micro-retailers. It’s  similar to the Tindahan Extra Mile (TEM): Balik PET Bottle program, which utilizes innovative methods to promote the circularity of plastic packaging.

By assisting in the conversion of their sari-sari stores and carinderias into recyclable PET bottle collection points, TEM, in partnership with the Basic Environmental Systems and Technologies, Inc. (BEST) and the Philippine Association of Stores and Carinderia Owners (PASCO), hopes to assist micro-retailers in their role as frontline environmental advocates. Customers are urged to discard their plastic bottles since they are more visible and close to these drop-off containers. By gathering bottles, micro-retailers can accrue environmental points that they can exchange for merchandise and rewards, enhancing their bottom line.

Graduates of the iSTAR program receive assistance in joining the Coca-Cola Philippines network of TEM partners, enabling them to expand their enterprises and encourage their local communities to maintain clean environments.

Visit the Coca-Cola Philippines Sustainability Hub to find out more about the company’s community outreach programs.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply