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The response of San Miguel Corporation amid the pandemic proves businesses must prioritize life over anything else.

The workforce remains largely affected by the closure of businesses across the world. It is unfortunate how only a number of companies could afford to keep their businesses running. However, there are those that stand out, proving themselves as stellar examples of retaining business.

San Miguel Corporation, headed by business tycoon Ramon S. Ang, continues to be lauded for its exceptional response towards the terrible impact of COVID-19. What started out as shifting their production into manufacturing disinfectants, grew into widespread and efficient initiatives that prioritize life above anything else.

Ramon S. Ang. (Photo from SMC)

Choosing the Priority

Any business owner and entrepreneur share a similar sentiment on the impact of the extended quarantine on their businesses. While this is for the general safety of the public, it spells a huge financial threat to both owners and employees. Keeping a business afloat at this time of crisis is no easy task. After all, in the next few months, the Philippines may lose an estimated P276.3 billion to P2.5 trillion. Sectors in retail and manufacturing are among those that are taking a hard hit in this crisis.

Even billionaires are facing massive losses. SMC President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang alone has a net worth of $1.5B. Yet he lost an estimated 46.43% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the tycoon seemed to downplay this. In an interview, he shares, “At this point, what is more important are lives, not money” continuing, “We can make money again but life, once you lose it, it’s gone forever. So between life and money, I’d choose life.”

Ang’s statement holds gravity, especially to the workforce that suffers the most. Of course, he understands the influence of his conglomerate, and what it can do at this time of crisis. In SMC’s official Instagram, the company emphasized and upholds the value of ‘malasakit’ or compassion in how they respond to the negative effects of the pandemic. So, how exactly does Ang lead his company to thrive? How does he live up to his eye-opening statement that can help his fellow tycoons and even small-time entrepreneurs in handling their respective businesses?

SMC continues to help farmers by purchasing their products and distributing them as part of their COVID-19 relief initiatives. (Photo from SMC’s Instagram)
SMC built and delivered booths for COVID-19 testing to Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Manila. (Photo from SMC)

Genuine Benevolence

As it is, the power SMC currently holds should only be equivalent to the depth of social responsibility it adopts during this crisis. As of writing, SMC has spent P3.09B on the continuous salaries and benefits of workers, consultants, and contract workers. They have also begun releasing stories of SMC employees and how they continue to serve people amid the pandemic. These admirable individuals carry out their roles in SMC. It is not only for their families but for others affected in these challenging times.

Apart from supporting its employees, SMC launched initiatives to assist hospitals and communities. As of writing, they have spent P13.08B for relief funds to those affected by the pandemic. It includes P500 million to purchase protective personal equipment (PPE) to frontline workers. They have also built quarantine facilities and have produced over P91.8M-worth of ethyl alcohol as disinfectants to hospitals, local government units, and organizations.

Temporary closure of businesses due to pandemic. (Photo from Center for American Progress)

Adopting the Example

Ang acknowledges the power SMC holds. Thus, it is only befitting for the business giant to have this kind of response. But what about those in small to medium enterprises? How can owners and entrepreneurs adopt the widespread response of SMC? It lies in Ang’s statement, “what is more important are lives, not money.” Of course, life couldn’t be sustained without funds that put food on the table. Yet what Ang underscores here is choosing to prioritize the welfare of employees rather than mere profit.

On one hand, there is the concern of reopening a business. Before you reopen, consider recovery plans first. There are many ways to continue operations while decreasing health risks. Meanwhile, there remains the issue of when a business has difficulties reopening. This is the case with startups, small-time businesses, and sectors low on the priority of reopening post-quarantine. Fortunately, the government has social amelioration programs. While these may seem ambiguous and inadequate at times, these are presently being restudied for expansion.

(Photo from Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Certainly, every business has a different situation. Yet when an owner or an entrepreneur understands and upholds the value of life above anything else, there will always be doors that open to ways in winning the battle against the pandemic.

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