Makati, Philippines – May 22, 2020 The Ayala Group (Ayala) has launched the Ayala Enterprise Circle (AEC), a group-wide Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) network that enhances the group’s ongoing initiatives to educate, connect, and enable SMEs. This synergistic initiative is currently focused on helping its existing 250,000 SME partners continue their operations and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic
“Today’s times are certainly unprecedented and very challenging for enterprises of all sizes, much especially for our SMEs who have always been critical players in our country’s economy… We realized that now, more than ever, do we need to accelerate our efforts to proactively reach out to you,” said Ayala Corporation Chairman & CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala during his welcome address at AEC’s first ever webinar attended by over 900 Ayala SME clients, suppliers, and partners. “We envision the Ayala Enterprise Circle as a network where you, our valued SME partners, can have access to exclusive Ayala Group solutions and offerings, expert mentorship from industry leaders, online dialogues and masterclasses, and business-matching and co-marketing opportunities. We are very excited for what this program has to offer, and we hope that you would continue to join us in this journey as members of this exclusive network.”
The group has been working since the onset of the pandemic to help meet SMEs’ critical needs, such as financial support, business continuity, and healthcare.
As of May 19, 2020, the Ayala group has helped ease the strain on its SME partners through P766-M worth of free services and business operations fees. The latter includes, among others, rental condonations. Ayala Malls alone has waived P280-M covering over 2,400 of Ayala Malls’ SMEs in the last two months.
Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) has encouraged its SME clients to take advantage of its Loan Reprieve Program (a loan payment deferment program) for up to 90 days to help them manage their cash flows affected by the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). BPI also waived interbank transfer fees to lighten client costs when transferring funds to other local banks for the duration of the ECQ.
Similar grace period programs were extended for qualified loan clients (for credit card, auto, personal, and home loans). BPI was one of the first banks to proactively offer deferred payment programs when the ECQ was first announced, and have since updated them to align with the Bayanihan Act. BPI is now working with PhilGuarantee to refine its loan products for qualified clients.
Ayala is also helping SMEs cope with the disruptions brought about by the ECQ through various business continuity solutions. Globe Telecom (Globe), for example, is helping SMEs thrive through various connectivity offerings to keep their businesses running from home, or to support their online operations. Similarly, Ayala Malls and Zalora are exploring new retail and ecommerce models to give SME tenants an alternative digital channel, with the former serving as community pick-up points for digital purchases.
Lastly, the Ayala group has been working to help protect the health of its workforce, including its SME network, by ensuring the continued availability of AC Health’s clinic, pharmaceutical, and telemedicine services. AC Health has made HealthNow, a web-based online consultation platform, available to everyone including Ayala Group SMEs, free of charge until June.
According to a DTI report, SMEs and microbusinesses cover 60% of the total annual revenues of all Philippine businesses, contribute 35% of the country’s GDP, and employ 63% of working Filipinos. Though SMEs have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the Ayala group recognizes their significance in sustaining the national economy. It remains fully committed to supporting its existing SME partners during this difficult period through various AEC initiatives in the months to come.
“Across the Ayala Group, we have a renewed commitment to all of our partner SMEs, who have been with us through so many years and have been gravely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We want to assure them all that we at the Ayala group remain steadfast in our support, and we thank them for their continued trust in us. Through Ayala Enterprise Circle, we hope to forge even deeper partnerships with our SME network as we move forward together into the ‘New Normal,’” said John Philip S. Orbeta, Ayala Corporation’s Chief Human Resource Officer and Group Head of Corporate Resources, who heads the AEC.