Microenterprises magnified in focus for MCR-ADMU’s final Climate Voices webinar
12 Apr 2023 | Daniel C Ratilla
On 28 October 2022, the My Climate Risk – Ateneo de Manila University (MCR-ADMU) Regional Hub, which is hosted by the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability, organized a webinar titled “Climate Risk and Microenterprises.” My Climate Risk is a lighthouse activity of the World Climate Research Programme which aims to develop and mainstream a bottom-up approach to regional climate risk, and has a mycorrhizal network of hubs that span all continents except Antarctica.
The webinar featured two resource speakers: Dr Maria Assunta C Cuyegkeng, Professor at the Department of Educational Leadership and Management of the Gokongwei Brothers School of Education and Learning Design (GBSEALD), and Ms Raquel Cementina-Olpoc, Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership and Strategy of the John Gokongwei School of Management (JGSOM) and Program Director of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management. Both Dr Cuyegkeng and Ms Cementina-Olpoc are from the Ateneo de Manila University, and shared their research into the ways and systems that microenterprises deal with climate risks. The session highlighted the experiences and limitations of microentrepreneurs in terms of climate adaptation, and delved into possible interventions in understanding their role in the broader context of the climate system.
Dr Philip Arnold P Tuaño, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government and a Collaborator of the Hub, opened the program by highlighting the importance of microenterprises, and briefly talked about how they are one of the sectors most affected by climate change. Dr Emmanuel D Delocado, Program Manager for Sustainable Development Goals of the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability, delivered the Closing Remarks, voicing his appreciation for the diversity of voices featured in the webinar series, and of the learnings shared by Dr Cuyegkeng and Ms Cementina-Olpoc from their study. Ms Jean Jardeleza Mijares, Program Manager for Climate and Disaster Resilience of the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability, moderated the session.
The plenary commenced with Dr Cuyegkeng sharing the observed knowledge gap in disaster preparedness of microenterprises in the Philippines, which Ms Cementina-Olpoc characterized as mostly family-owned, operating informally, and which are located in vulnerable parts of the country. Dr Cuyegkeng discussed disaster risk factors as a combination of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability, which can be alleviated with coping capacity. This capacity is determined by resilience, and is contrasted with vulnerabilities as measured by economic capacity. Microenterprises’ coping capacity would then depend on how much they invest in disaster readiness and business continuity, and would take a longer time to recover from a disaster.
According to Ms Cementina-Olpoc, 99.51% of the business establishments in the country can be classified as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and from this figure, 88.77% are considered microenterprises; however, this did not include many sari-sari stores, market vendors, and other informal and home-based enterprises. She added that developing resilience in supply chain management is key to developing their resilience. As they operate informally and outside industry norms and regulations, their ability to implement risk management is severely limited, resulting in a lack of disaster preparedness associated with financial and economic constraints, inadequate knowledge and skills, and complacency.
The research of both Dr Cuyegkeng and Ms Cementina-Olpoc revealed two emergent themes, of vulnerability and resilience of microenterprises. The former showed a lack of awareness of the risk from their practices, and of the relationship between climate risk and day-to-day business concerns, coming short of just connecting how climate risk can affect access to supplies, damage to assets, and loss of customers. For the latter, Dr Cuyegkeng discussed the presence of agility, grit, resourcefulness, and creativity, encapsulated in the Filipino term “diskarte.” This is manifested in relocating assets, investing in equipment, diversifying income streams, and building strong social capital by being active in their cooperatives and organizations, and tapping into these during crises. Dr Cuyegkeng also shared the dynamics of microenterprises and their ecosystem using causal loop diagrams, demonstrating how systems thinking tools may be incorporated into a study on microenterprises and resilience.
Summarizing their findings, Dr Cuyegkeng and Ms Cementina-Olpoc emphasized the need to improve awareness of microenterprises and further develop their competencies. By using systems thinking and going to the grassroots, they added, we can better understand their needs in order for them to be more resilient to climate risks.
The session was attended by participants from the Philippines, with international attendees from Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, the United States, and Vietnam. This webinar was the final session in a series titled “Climate Voices on the Ground: Perspectives from Different Sectors.” The series occurred on successive Fridays of October 2022. Replays and highlights of the webinar series are available in the following page.
INVITATION: ASOG Webinar on “Trilateral Cooperation Among Philippines, United States, and Japan: Acceptability, Implications, and Impact on Regional Security” (27 June 2023)
09 Jun 2023