UNAWA takes center stage as sole regtech firm in She Loves Tech Philippines 2020

UNAWA takes center stage as sole regtech firm in She Loves Tech Philippines 2020

It represented the regtech industry and its growing potential in the country

 

 

Regtech startup UNAWA was one of the 10 finalists in She Loves Tech Philippines 2020, the local unit of the world’s largest startup competition focused on women and technology. UNAWA joined nine other Philippine startups that were also led by female founders and executives. 

 

“The UNAWA team is honored to have been selected as a finalist for She Loves Tech 2020, and we are proud to represent and pioneer the country’s emerging regtech sector,” said Atty. Mona Dimalanta, CEO of UNAWA. “As a regtech startup primarily led by female Filipino professionals, UNAWA understands and is mindful of its responsibility to deliver innovative solutions to the Philippine market that make ease of doing business something that can truly be at our fingertips.”

 

 

The pitch competition was held online on October 8, 2020 in partnership with QBO Innovation Hub, the country’s first public-private partnership focused on the startup community. Established in 2015, She Loves Tech aims to put the spotlight on women-led and women-focused startups around the world, highlighting the importance of female innovators populating the startup and technology industries.  

 

“We do all of this because we believe that the combination of women and technology is key to solving the world’s greatest challenges,” said Rhea See, Co-Founder of She Loves Tech. “Not having women on the table, not having women in this industry, is depriving us from some of the most innovative technologies that can help us move the needle.”

 

Fintech startup SukiPlus won the competition, and it will represent the Philippines in the She Loves Tech global finals. Completing the podium are healthtech firm reach52 and e-commerce platform GrocerGenie.

 

Digital Transaction Hub

Watch Full Event Here!

 

In UNAWA’s first-ever pitch, the startup presented its Digital Transaction Hub, a suite of regtech solutions that helps businesses participate and succeed in the digital economy. Created in response to the challenges that businesses continue to face in the pandemic, UNAWA equips micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with the tools they need to quickly overcome these challenges and create more value for their businesses. 

 

“In a world that has rapidly gone digital, transforming digital transactions creates great value for small businesses and entire economies alike,” said Niña Terol, Chief Marketing Officer of UNAWA, in the She Loves Tech 2020 pitch. “It generates up to 80% cost savings per company, gets business done 21 times faster than paper documents, and empowers MSMEs to be part of the US$300-billion digital economy.”

 

The UNAWA Digital Transaction Hub includes SafeForm, which enables businesses to digitize their analog forms and create automated workflows; SignSecure, an e-signature service helping entrepreneurs close digital contracts and agreements more quickly; and SignSecure RNotary, which gives clients access to secure and efficient remote notarization services. 

 

“Through the UNAWA Digital Transaction Hub, we champion She Loves Tech’s mission of creating impactful innovations through female-led startups,” added Atty. Dimalanta. “As we continue to roll out our solutions, UNAWA is keen on empowering more of its fellow businesses to not only survive, but also thrive in the digital economy.”


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Wet, Electronic, and Digital: The Three Types of Signatures

Wet, Electronic, and Digital:
The Three Types of Signatures

Which ones are legally binding?

 

 

A signature is one of the most common and definitive ways of authentication. As it is unique to every individual, a signature allows transacting parties to verify each other’s identities and acknowledge each other’s consent. This is why signed documents are required for almost every kind of transaction.

 

With the advent of technology, signatures have evolved to be an essential part of digital transactions, with parties now able to sign these documents electronically. With the COVID-19 pandemic making it harder to transact in person and shifting the world towards a “new normal,” many businesses are looking at digital and contactless alternatives for their documentary needs, with their signatures following suit.

 

In this article, we will talk about the three main types of signatures, their pros and cons, and which signatures are considered legally binding in the Philippines.

Related: If you want to experience how e-signatures and electronic documents can make your business transactions easier, learn more about SignSecure.

 

Wet Signatures

The inked signatures we are most familiar with are called “wet signatures”. They come from an individual, by physical movement of the hand, using a writing implement with ink scrolling on a piece of paper. 

 

As wet signatures have been around far longer than their “dry” counterparts, they are considered the standard for any documents that need verification. Most Philippine laws that require signed documents contemplate the use of wet signatures, and it was not until recent years that laws and regulations made any distinction made between “wet” and other types of signatures.

 

While wet signatures do not have legal restrictions or limitations, they are increasingly becoming much harder to implement in the new normal. Strict quarantine and physical distancing requirements have made it difficult to set in-person meetings, and sending documents through couriers pose additional risks to all parties.

 

Electronic Signatures

Enter electronic signatures, or “e-signatures” as they are often called. As the name implies, e-signatures are any type of marks that an individual uses to signify their identity in an electronic document. While the most common example of this is an individual signing on a digital platform, e-signatures can also take the form of digitally scanned wet signatures or even an audio recording of the individual authenticating the transaction.

 

E-signatures were already growing in popularity even before COVID-19 hit, as businesses  began incorporating digital processes, but they are becoming indispensable tools in today’s business landscape. Instead of arranging physical meetings that may pose a health risk to the individuals involved, or mailing a document at the risk of loss, damage, or violations of confidentiality, many businesses are now creating electronic documents that can be verified through e-signatures. By using electronic documents, businesses are able to transact safely, quickly, and efficiently.

 

One common concern raised against the use of e-signatures is whether these are all recognized by law. However, e-signatures have already been accepted by Philippine law as legally binding, as long as they satisfy the requirements laid out in the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000, which revolve around presenting evidence that the party that provided the e-signature actually consented to the transaction. 

Related: Do you need to sign legal documents and ensure the validity of your e-signature? Click here.

 

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures are usually considered the strongest and most secure out of the different kinds of electronic signatures. These signatures use cryptographic technology to not only verify the identity of both parties, but also to authenticate the contents of the electronic document itself.

 

Digital signatures often rely on a set of private and public “keys,” which can be likened to digital fingerprints that represent the identities of the individual signing as well as the document used in the transaction. By encrypting a document with the sender’s public key, it ensures that only the recipient with their corresponding private key can decrypt the message and verify the authenticity of the document’s contents. Any outside tampering made to the document can be easily identified, thanks to this private key-public key dynamic, ensuring the security of the transaction.

 

 

As they are a subset of e-signatures, digital signatures are also recognized by Philippine law as legally binding, and they must also comply with the requirements of the Electronic Commerce Act of 2000. In addition, electronic documents signed by either e-signatures and digital signatures can also be admitted as evidence in any situation, by following the Supreme Court’s Rules on Electronic Evidence. This gives them the same legal effect and authenticity as physical documents.

 

Signing in the New Normal

With both electronic and digital signatures bearing the same weight as wet signatures, businesses can continue to transact digitally while worrying about fewer legal restrictions on their electronic documents. As the new normal brings new challenges, businesses can quickly adapt by digitizing their signatures and making their documents and transactions more efficient.

 

UNAWA can help you get started on setting up your electronic documents today. Find out more by clicking here.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Is Remote the Next Normal for Notarization?

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly reshaped Philippine society in the span of a few months, thanks to a combination of what has been reported as “the world’s longest lockdown,” ever-evolving travel and access restrictions from both the government and the private sector, and strong health and safety concerns from the public in general. These have forced various sectors to scramble for ways to go about their day-to-day dealings as approximately close to how they used to do so pre-COVID.

The legal services industry has been one of the sectors heavily affected. Notaries public have particularly been hindered, given the heavy reliance on face-to-face interactions with their signatories. 

 

Notarization, in the Philippines, is generally not a pre-condition for the validity of legal documents. However, many essential transactions require notarization, such as real estate dealings and submissions to the BIR, LGUs, and many other government agencies. Further, even when notarization is not required, the Philippine public tends to rely on notarization as a source of legitimacy for their transactions. Commerce has thus suffered, with parties finding themselves ready to sign a contract or document but unable to proceed with the transaction for lack of access to a notary.

 

The Supreme Court has thankfully noticed. In July, the Court issued the Interim Rules on Remote Notarization to address these concerns. The Interim Rules do not completely overhaul the notarization system, but they depart from the traditionally “analog” Rules on Notarial Practice in some meaningful ways.

 

The biggest change comes from the introduction of videoconferencing. Under the previous notarial practice, parties were required to appear before notaries and confirm that they voluntarily affixed their signature on a document presented to the notary (in the case of a notarial acknowledgment), or sign and swear to a document before the notary (in case of an affidavit or jurat). The Interim Rules dispense with this personal appearance requirement, in favor of an online appearance by way of videoconference. 

 

Under the Interim Rules, a signatory pre-signs the document and, together with their competent proof of identity (e.g., passport, driver’s license, etc.), couriers the signed document to their notary. Upon receipt, the notary schedules a videoconference with the signatory, during which the notary confirms the signatory’s identity, and requests the signatory to confirm that they voluntarily signed the document. The notary then affixes their notarial seal and certificate per usual practice, but with an annotation that notarization was done by videoconference.

 

An inherent difficulty with any online notarization process is that notarial commissions are necessarily geographical (a notary commissioned in Makati, for example, cannot notarize in Pasig). The Interim Rules have creatively addressed this problem by allowing signatories to present GPS location-enabled devices during the videoconference, in order to validate that they are located within their notary’s commission area. Interestingly, the Rules also allow location validation through landmarks. So if they happen to be in the right location, a signatory can put aside Waze or Google Maps, and instead show their notary the view outside the window.

 

Bowing to security considerations, the Rules include robust safeguards to ensure the integrity of the notarized document. At the outset, the pre-signed document must be sent to the notary in an envelope sealed with the signatory’s initials. The notary opens this sealed envelope only during the videoconference, and the document taken from the envelope must be kept in full view of the signatory throughout the videoconference. 

 

The Rules also have redundant measures for the notary to verify the signature on the document: (1) the signatory must send the notary a video clip of themselves signing the document, (2) during the videoconference, they need to sign a blank piece of paper and show this to the notary for comparison with the signature on the document, and (3) the notary is even required to pose searching questions to satisfy themselves that the signatory freely and voluntarily signed the document.

 

If there is one criticism of the Rules, it would be that they can only be used to notarize documents signed with traditional handwritten or “wet” ink signatures. While other government agencies such as the DICT have made a strong push toward digital methods of signing documents, the restrictions on notarization will undoubtedly dampen the momentum of this shift.

As their name implies, the Interim Rules are only temporary. Applying only to areas placed under Community Quarantine, the Rules will eventually lapse once travel restrictions are completely lifted by the authorities. The Rules, however, are the first step in the right direction. And hopefully the legal community, through the leadership of the Supreme Court, will use the intervening period as an opportunity to take stock of our notarial system and find ways to move it further towards digitization by accommodating electronic and digital signatures on a more permanent basis.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


List of Documents Requiring Notarization

As a general rule, notarization is not required for the validity of contracts and other documents. Hence, contracts are considered validly executed even if signed electronically. However, the following documents listed below must be notarized (and hence physically signed).

 

DOCUMENT NAME LEGAL BASIS PURPOSE
FAMILY CODE     
Marriage License Application Article 11. Where a marriage license is required, each of thecontracting parties shall file separately a sworn application for such license with the proper local civil registrar x x x  Necessary to implement the transaction
Marriage Advice Article 15. Any contracting party between the age of twenty-one and twenty-five shall be obliged to ask their parents or guardian for advice upon the intended marriage. If they do not obtain such advice, or if it be unfavorable, the marriage license shall not be issued till after three months following the completion of the publication of the application therefor. A sworn statement by the contracting parties to the effect that such advice has been sought, together with the written advice given, if any, shall be attached to the application for marriage license. Should the parents or guardian refuse to give any advice, this fact shall be stated in the sworn statement. Necessary to implement the transaction
CIVIL CODE    
Donation of real property Article 749. In order that the donation of an immovable may be valid, it must be made in a public document, specifying therein the property donated and the value of the charges which the donee must satisfy.The acceptance may be made in the same deed of donation or in a separate public document, but it shall not take effect unless it is done during the lifetime of the donor.If the acceptance is made in a separate instrument, the donor shall be notified thereof in an authentic form, and this step shall be noted in both instruments. For validity
Wills Article 806. Every will must be acknowledged before a notary public by the testator and the witnesses. The notary public shall not be required to retain a copy of the will, or file another with the office of the Clerk of Court. For validity
Granting/revoking rights over real property Article 1358. The following must appear in a public document:(1) Acts and contracts which have for their object the creation, transmission, modification or extinguishment of real rights over immovable property x x x Necessary in order to take effect against third persons
Renouncing rights of spouse or heir(s) Article 1358. The following must appear in a public document: x x x (2) The cession, repudiation or renunciation of hereditary rights or of those of the conjugal partnership of gains; x x x Necessary in order to take effect against third persons
Power of attorney over property Article 1358. The following must appear in a public document: x x x (3) The power to administer property, or any other power which has for its object an act appearing or which should appear in a public document, or should prejudice a third person; x x x Necessary in order to take effect against third persons
To revoke rights previously granted in a notarized document Article 1358. The following must appear in a public document: x x x (4) The cession of actions or rights proceeding from an act appearing in a public document. x x x Necessary in order to take effect against third persons
Assignment of a credit, right or action Article 1625. An assignment of a credit, right or action shall produce no effect as against third persons, unless it appears in a public instrument, or the instrument is recorded in the Registry of Property in case the assignment involves real property. Necessary in order to take effect against third persons
RULES OF COURT    
Extrajudicial settlement by agreement between heirs Rule 74, Section 1. If the decedent left no will and no debts and the heirs are all of age, or the minors are represented by their judicial or legal representatives duly authorized for the purpose, the parties may, without securing letters of administration, divide the estate among themselves as they see fit by means of a public instrument filed in the office of the register of deeds, and should they disagree, they may do so in an ordinary action of partition. For validity
PROPERTY REGISTRATION DECREE    
Dealings with land Section 112. Deeds, conveyances, encumbrances, discharges, powers of attorney and other voluntary instruments, whether affecting registered or unregistered land, executed in accordance with law in the form of public instruments shall be registerable: Provided, that, every such instrument shall be signed by the person or persons executing the same in the presence of at least two witnesses who shall likewise sign thereon, and shall acknowledged to be the free act and deed of the person or persons executing the same before a notary public or other public officer authorized by law to take acknowledgment. Where the instrument so acknowledged consists of two or more pages including the page whereon acknowledgment is written, each page of the copy which is to be registered in the office of the Register of Deeds, or if registration is not contemplated, each page of the copy to be kept by the notary public, except the page where the signatures already appear at the foot of the instrument, shall be signed on the left margin thereof by the person or persons executing the instrument and their witnesses, and all the ages sealed with the notarial seal, and this fact as well as the number of pages shall be stated in the acknowledgment. Where the instrument acknowledged relates to a sale, transfer, mortgage or encumbrance of two or more parcels of land, the number thereof shall likewise be set forth in said acknowledgment. For validity
REVISED CORPORATION CODE    
Amendment of Articles of Incorporation Section 15. x x x The original and amended articles together shall contain all provisions required by law to be set out in the articles of incorporation. Amendments to the articles shall be indicated by underscoring the change or changes made, and a copy thereof duly certified under oath by the corporate secretary and a majority of the directors or trustees, with a statement that the amendments have been duly approved by the required vote of the stockholders or members, shall be submitted to the Commission. x x x For validity
Sworn statement for increase of capital stock Section 37. x x x the Commission shall not accept for filing any certificate of increase of capital stock unless accompanied by a sworn statement of the treasurer of the corporation lawfully holding office at the time of the filing of the certificate, showing that at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the increase in capital stock has been subscribed and that at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the amount subscribed has been paid in actual cash to the corporation or that property, the valuation of which is equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the subscription, has been transferred to the corporation: Provided, further, That no decrease in capital stock shall be approved by the Commission if its effect shall prejudice the rights of corporate creditors. x x x Necessary to effect the transaction
Resolution authorizing the amendment and/or adoption of new bylaws Section 47. x x x Whenever the bylaws are amended or new bylaws are adopted, the corporation shall file with the Commission such amended or new bylaws and, if applicable, the stockholders’ or members’ resolution authorizing the delegation of the power to amend and/or adopt new bylaws, duly certified under oath by the corporate secretary and majority of the directors or trustees. x x x Necessary to effect the transaction
Voting Trust Agreement Section 58. One or more stockholders of a stock corporation may create a voting trust for the purpose of conferring upon a trustee or trustees the right to vote and other rights pertaining to the shares for a period not exceeding five (5) years at any time: Provided, That in the case of a voting trust specifically required as a condition in a loan agreement, said voting trust may be for a period exceeding five (5) years but shall automatically expire upon full payment of the loan. A voting trust agreement must be in writing and notarized, and shall specify the terms and conditions thereof. For validity
Foreign corporations’ application for license to do business Section 142. Application for a License. — A foreign corporation applying for a license to transact business in the Philippines shall submit to the Commission a copy of its articles of incorporation and bylaws, certified in accordance with law, and their translation to an official language of the Philippines, if necessary. The application shall be under oath and, unless already stated in its articles of incorporation, shall specifically set forth the following:   x x xAttached to the application for license shall be a certificate under oath duly executed by the authorized official or officials of the jurisdiction of its incorporation, attesting to the fact the laws of the country or State of the applicant allow Filipino citizens and corporations to do business therein, and that the applicant is an existing corporation in good standing. If the certificate is in a foreign language, a translation thereof in English under oath of the translator shall be attached to the application.The application for a license to transact business in the Philippines shall likewise be accompanied by a statement under oath of the president or any other person authorized by the corporation, showing to the satisfaction of the Commission and when appropriate, other governmental agencies that the applicant is solvent and in sound financial condition, setting forth the assets and liabilities of the corporation as of the date not exceeding one (1) year immediately prior to the filing of the application.x x x For validity
LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS    
Barangay Clearance Application for securing Business PermitCertificate/Letter of AccommodationBoard Resolution and Secretary’s Certificate, if applicable Requirements may vary for every Local Government Unit. Notarization is not expressly required under the Local Government Code. For validity
Locational Clearance ApplicationCertificate/Letter of Accommodation For use of the government agency concerned
Sanitary Permit ApplicationAffidavit of No Employee (if without employee) or Certified list of Employees (if with employees) For validity
Tax DeclarationSworn StatementAuthorization Letter (if applicant is not the owner) For validity

 

 

 


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


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The Future of Tourism

With most of the world on lockdown, tourism and all of its related industries have experienced a massive slowdown in operations that is seen to continue while there is no COVID-19 vaccine. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) already predicted that over 100 million jobs in the travel and tourism sector will be lost around the world, leading to a total global GDP loss of about US$2.7 trillion (Php135.8 trillion).

With this context in mind, UNAWA felt it fitting to close its free “Navigating the New Normal” webinar series with a discussion focused specifically on the tourism, travel, and hospitality industries. Its eighth and final webinar, “Travel & Leisure 2.0: Reimagining the Travel and Hospitality Sectors,” featured a star-studded panel of industry leaders who shared their tips and insights on how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in these industries can rise above the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

Here are the highlights:

1. Strengthen safety protocols.

In a pre-recorded message, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat shared what the government plans to do to revitalize the industry. She revealed that the DOT was planning to explore the concepts of “travel bubbles” and “travel corridors,” which will link tourist spots in the Philippines with no COVID cases with other tourist spots around the region in the same situation.

“These are the things that we are discussing with our other ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) partners, that we can have this travel corridor and travel bubble wherein the tourists will feel safe because they are going to a place in our country which has no COVID,” said Romulo-Puyat.

This highlights that while the DOT is pushing for the reopening of the country’s tourism sector, it is only doing so by taking every measure to keep both tourists and service providers as safe as possible. Internally, it will only be allowing hotels, restaurants, and other similar establishments to operate if these accommodations are strictly enforcing health protocols within their locations.

“All these accredited DOT-accommodations have to follow health and safety protocols, and the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) recently approved that no accommodation can operate unless it is accredited by the DOT,” added Romulo-Puyat. “And again, the DOT will not accredit if we cannot ensure the safety and health of our guests.”

2. Accept the realities—then plan accordingly.

While it is good to look at the bright side of things, it is important to be aware of the entire picture. Jaison Yang, President and Co-owner of travel agency Travel Warehouse Inc., says that it is important for his fellow SME owners in the travel and hospitality sectors to know where the industry is going so that they can plan their strategy for both the short-term and long-term.

“I’m not saying let’s not be optimistic, but I think this is the time to be realistic, because the only way to recover is acceptance,” said Yang. “If you don’t accept that these things are happening, you cannot plan and you cannot recover.”

That reality is how travel agencies such as Yang’s are in a “wait-and-see” scenario, wherein they will not only have to wait for the government to reopen the country, they will also have to wait for other related industries to be confident enough to continue operations as well. While Yang knows that the situation is grim, he nevertheless finds it important for entrepreneurs to take all of these realities into account when planning for the future.

“If I may quote a colleague, some people are sugar coating that the tourism industry is just on vacation. But he said that the industry is not on vacation, but it’s on forced leave,” he added. “For us, it’s a wait-and-see. No matter how many times we plan ahead, it will always depend on the situation within the hotel industry, airline industry, and other partners.”

3. Communicate and build trust with your clients.

Bel Castro, Assistant Dean of the College of Hospitality Management at Enderun Colleges, shared many well-researched insights for SME owners in the hospitality sector, or those who run hotels and other similar accommodations. Among her tips was in response to a question about how budget hotels can compete with 2-star or 3-star hotels who were slashing prices, where she shared the importance of being communicative with prospective customers.

“If you are managing your safety issues, you must communicate, communicate, communicate,” said Castro. “If you go into hiding and you disappear from people’s view… when [people] start planning to travel again, you’re not on their shortlist. Nakalimutan ka na (You’ve been forgotten).” 

She cited research from travel market intelligence agency Skift, which has been publishing various studies on the state of the travel and tourism industry during and after the pandemic. One research she highlighted was how the most effective businesses in the sector were using the pandemic as an opportunity to rebuild trust with their clients by actively communicating with them, which will prove helpful in the long run.

“It’s a great quote from Mr. Ali who runs Skift, [who] said, ‘Wear your pain on your sleeve.’ Let your customer know that you are suffering just like them, [that] you are taking care of your staff, because by extension they will believe that you will take care of them. These will pay dividends later on because no one is going to buy your products if they don’t trust you, and that trust has to be built,” advised Castro.

4. Find opportunities to collaborate.

Airlines were among the most impacted by the pandemic, as the global lockdowns meant that they were among the first to be restricted to operate because of the health risks involved. But Atty. Jomar Castillo, Chairman of AirAsia Philippines, revealed that despite all these setbacks, the airlines were still operating in some capacity with the help of the government. 

“It’s wrong that airlines stopped operations completely. All of us were part of the repatriation flights of the DOT,” shared Castillo. “Airlines were operating during the pandemic, so we’re pretty much ready to fly people safely after the lockdowns.”

What Castillo found surprising, though, was how all of the major airlines were helping each other out throughout the lockdown, despite being each other’s competitors. He highlighted that this culture of collaboration should extend to all kinds of businesses, whether they’re competitors, related industries, or even other faraway sectors.

“In this time when we’re all in a crisis, everybody needs to work together. During the pandemic, the airlines were all working together, [even if] we’re direct competitors,” said Castillo.

Itinerary for Recovery

The recovery process for businesses in the tourism, travel, and hospitality sectors will be a slow and challenging one, but we hope that these tips, along with the other great dscussions and insights from the webinar itself, will help SMEs get started. The itinerary for this recovery journey may be long and complicated, but businesses must be laser-focused so that they can successfully reach their destinations.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Leap to Entrepreneurship banner

Leap to Entrepreneurship

Because of the adverse effects of the lockdown, many Filipinos are now looking into starting their own businesses to make a living. You may have seen stories of recently laid-off employees or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) turning their setbacks around by going into entrepreneurship and becoming their own bosses.

That was the topic of UNAWA’s recent free webinar: “From Zero to Hero: Leap from Unemployment to Entrepreneurship.” We invited self-made entrepreneurs who were able to grow their businesses from scratch, to share their insights on how their fellow Filipinos can start their entrepreneurial journeys.

Here are three of the tips they shared:

1. Do your research

Before Rolandrei Viktor “Zark” Varona became an entrepreneur, he wore many hats in various food establishments, most notably as part of the cold kitchen staff of a cruise liner for two years. However, throughout his professional life, he still stuck to one dream: open and run his own restaurant.

When he finally opened fast-food chain Zark’s Burgers in 2009, he had to take the leap from being a chef to being a restaurateur, and it wasn’t easy. On that end, Varona shared one simple but very important tip for other aspiring entrepreneurs: doing extensive research about what they’re getting into.

“‘Yung biggest challenge para sa ‘kin, nag-jump ako from cook [tapos] naging entrepreneur (The biggest challenge for me was jumping from being a cook to being an entrepreneur),” said Varona. “Ang ginawa ko, mas doble effort para pag-aralan yung mga best practices ng mga nauna na, ng mga malalaking brands (What I did was to exert double the effort in studying the best practices of the ones before me, of the big brands).”

He also added that he was able to ask for advice from his colleagues in previous jobs. As these were experienced restaurant managers, he was able to apply their insights into his own business.

Humingi ako ng tulong sa mga supervisor, sa mga manager ko sa dating trabaho. Buti naman, we shared the same vision, same values, so tinulungan nila ako magbuo ng company (I asked for help from my supervisors and managers from past jobs. Good thing we shared the same vision, same values, so they helped me build a company),” shared Varona.

2. Don’t be afraid to fail

One of the biggest reasons why most people are scared of starting their own business is all of the risk and uncertainty that comes with it. It’s almost guaranteed that an entrepreneur will first need to put in money when they start the business, and it will take them some time to recoup that initial investment.

Rodel Anunciado, co-founder of agritech firm BINHI Inc., has a unique way of viewing the losses entrepreneurs incur from running their businesses. For him, it’s best that business owners treat these losses similarly to the tuition fees they pay to study in a university, except the school in this case is the business.

“When you lose money doing business, it’s a form of tuition fee,” said Anunciado. “With all the challenges, with all of these things that happen to you and your business, you just have to fight on. Learn and move forward.”

He added that most aspiring entrepreneurs are afraid to start their own businesses because they are pressured to make it as perfect as possible, and to execute their strategies without making any mistakes. Anunciado stressed that it’s not about doing things perfectly, but doing things as best as you can and then improving afterwards.

“My mindset [is] positive action more than perfectionism,” he said. “You get things done whether [it’s good or not], and then you go back and make it more ‘perfect’. Use data and then do it, because once you don’t do it, you don’t know whether it will work or not.”

3. Look into government programs for help

For those who need extra support in starting their businesses, the government has various programs aimed at helping aspiring entrepreneurs learn the necessary skills needed. Various government agencies offer workshops, training programs, and other useful programs that can help an entrepreneur get started, scale up, and become successful.

One of these agencies is the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA. In the webinar, Rosalina Constantino, Assistant Executive Director of TESDA’s Planning Office, talked about TESDA’s various programs to help Filipinos start their entrepreneurial journeys. She highlighted the TESDA Online Courses, which are free and accessible resources for anyone to learn more about entrepreneurship and a variety of other topics and industries.

“We have programs to help Filipinos upskill and retool themselves and prepare them for a job and a livelihood after,” said Constantino. “We have this battle cry, ‘TESDA abot lahat’ (TESDA reaches all), [which means not just] towards global competitiveness or workforce readiness, but also those who are unreached, [the] social equity part of our responsibility.”

The webinar also featured a special guest speaker: Melvin Santiago Rojo, who runs Iloilo-based bakery Myrnz Cakecreations with his wife Myrna. Rojo shared his story of how he and his wife used to work as OFWs in Brunei, but then came back to the Philippines because they wanted to start their own business.

What was able to help the couple was the Negosyo Center program of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). With the support of the DTI, the two were not only able to grow their business into one of the most well-known cake shops in Iloilo, but also promote their cakes around the country through DTI’s roadshows and exhibitions.

Take the leap

These three tips only scratch the surface in terms of what entrepreneurs will need to start their own business, but we hope they were helpful all the same. As Anunciado puts it, you’ll never know whether or not your business will work until you try it out and take the leap.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Banner - Overcome These Top Business Barriers

Overcome These Top Business Barriers

With businesses now being allowed to slowly reopen, owners of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are looking for ways to reopen and operate safely, and also refine their business strategy to meet changing needs. Several months of community quarantine have dampened their sales and forced them to adjust to the new normal, so the next few months will be critical in keeping their businesses afloat.

Fortunately, they do not have to do it alone. Many government agencies, large companies, and even fellow MSMEs have rolled out products, programs, and projects aimed specifically to help small business owners get back on their feet. These MSME enablers were the highlight of our sixth webinar, “Ready, Set? Reboot! MSME Enablers in the New Normal.”

In the webinar, the panelists were asked to identify the biggest barriers MSMEs are currently facing in their road to recovery. Here, we list their replies and highlight how each of their organizations are helping MSMEs adapt to the new normal:

Barrier #1: Lack of Information

When Jude Buelva established hyperlocal delivery startup Pandalivery as a college student back in 2017, he found it hard to find resources that would help him start his entrepreneurial journey. He highlighted how this lack of information is a major barrier for anyone who wants to put up their own business.

“As a student aspiring to become an entrepreneur years ago, hindi ko alam (I didn’t know) where to start. Entrepreneurs have a really hard time accessing information,” said Buelva. “Hindi nila alam kung paano magsimula, ano yung opportunity na meron sa kanila, and ano yung available na resources sa kanila (They don’t know how to start, what opportunities are present, and what resources are available for them).”

Today, Buelva is enabling other businesses in Camarines Sur and Albay through Pandalivery, a logistics startup for food, groceries, and medicine. His hyperlocal approach allows Buelva to contribute in building the business community of the Bicol region, ensuring that his fellow entrepreneurs have resources available to grow their businesses.. 

Ghian Marucot, Co-founder and COO of global e-commerce enabler eCFULFILL, recommended that MSME owners seek out enablers like the organizations of the panelists. These businesses, government agencies, and groups have a lot of useful information readily available to any entrepreneur who needs it. 

“[By using] these services, makikita niyo (you’ll see) how easy it really is to recover using online platforms,” said Marucot.

Barrier #2: No Confidence in Their Business

Both Buelva and Marucot also pointed to entrepreneurs’ lack of confidence in themselves and in their offerings as major barriers in scaling up. While entrepreneurs have to face many uncertainties in how their products will be received or how their business models will fare, both of them agree that these are necessary in order to scale up.

“When you talk about scaling up or expanding, parang natatakot sila kasi baka mawala sa kanila yung product (they’re afraid that they might lose control of the product) or they’ll actually spend more,” said Buelva. “But they don’t realize [that] if you don’t risk, you’ll never really grow.”

This barrier is especially close to Marucot’s heart, as eCFULFILL’s platform allows local retailers and merchants to sell and market their products to potential customers all over the world, through global e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Wish, and Etsy. He assured entrepreneurs that their products will find a market abroad, as Filipino-made goods already have a reputation for being high-quality.

“We have very good quality Filipino products. Our brands can be global brands,” claimed Marucot. “The way we present our products, yung mga designs natin (our designs), they’re globally accepted. Be confident with your product, let’s bring it out there. Magugulat kayo (You’ll be surprised) how [receptive] the global consumer is to the Filipino product.”

Barrier #3: Reluctance to Change

The webinar also featured two representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which have been rolling out and promoting various programs that are helping MSMEs cope with the effects of the pandemic. Both also talked about common barriers experienced by MSMEs that they’ve observed in their projects.

Jerry Clavesillas, Director of the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development at the DTI, highlighted that entrepreneurs must be adaptive especially with how quickly the market is changing. MSME owners who still fall back to their habits and models prior to the lockdown will find it much harder to thrive in the new normal.

“During this time, the challenge for our entrepreneurs in getting back to their operations is the reluctance to change. Nagbabago ang preferences ng market (The market’s preferences are shifting), so you have to change, you have to adapt to the new norm,” said Clavesillas. “The mindset of our people should be attuned to the demands of the times.”

Clavesillas added that having a change in mindset was one of seven Ms that the DTI is promoting to MSMEs in order for them to succeed. For the other six Ms, check out this post from the DTI.

Barrier #4: Low Digital Skills

One of the key programs that the DTI rolled out during the lockdown was CTRL + BIZ Reboot Now!, a series of free webinars that highlight various topics on how MSMEs can enter the digital economy. Mary Jean Pacheco, Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines and DTI E-commerce Lead, shared in UNAWA’s webinar that hosting CTRL + BIZ has been a great learning experience both for the MSMEs and for the DTI.

For Pacheco, one of the insights she gathered was how there was a general lack in digital skills among many Filipinos and MSME owners. She enumerated tiers of digital readiness among MSMEs, and she noted how many MSMEs were still in the first tier: having an email for their business.

“We have to make sure that our SMEs are digitalized,” said Pacheco. “There are many SMEs who don’t even have an email. Dapat, geared up ang ating mga kababayan to do the basics (Filipinos should be geared up to do the basics).”

On the individual level, Pacheco urged Filipinos to be more productive with their use of the Internet. She cited how Filipinos were among the most frequent Internet users in the world, but also had low adoption of other digital products such as mobile wallets. 

“We spend 10 hours a day on the Internet,” she said. “If we will be more productive [by using] the Internet either as a consumer or as a seller, our e-commerce will really grow.”

Break the Barriers

As Pacheco highlighted, one of the most effective ways to break these barriers is to invest in digital platforms. By using technology to access information, increase confidence in their products, and change their operations, MSME owners can get a head start in their efforts to reboot their business.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Secure Your SME Digitally

“Navigating the New Normal,” UNAWA’s series of free webinars helping small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners with the new realities brought about by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), has addressed various aspects of business continuity in its past four webinars. One consistent recommendation brought up by our panelists is the need for businesses to go digital, with the remote working and social distancing environment benefiting from purely digital processes.

However, the push to go digital also comes with an increased need for data privacy and cybersecurity. As companies move their operations to digital platforms, they must also be aware of how to properly secure and safeguard these platforms from various cyber threats.

This was the focus of UNAWA’s fifth webinar, “Data Privacy and Cybersecurity–Is Your Company Ready?” Our panelists offered various insights from technological, legal, and professional perspectives on how SMEs can improve their data privacy and cybersecurity in an era of remote working and rapid digitalization. Here, we share five of these insights:

1. Don’t forget about data privacy and cybersecurity when digitizing your business.

Companies that are predominantly brick-and-mortar in nature are now exploring new ways to reach their customers digitally, such as putting up e-commerce platforms or setting up digital communication channels and apps. But Iannis Hanen, CEO of cybersecurity testing platform Secuna, reminded business owners going through this digitization phase not to forget about proper data privacy and cybersecurity practices. 

“As [businesses] cut corners, they use ways to collect and transfer information that’s very sensitive. And they usually tend to ignore the security aspect as they do that because at this point, a lot of SME owners are not thinking about security of the data. They just want to have transactions with customers,” Hanen pointed out.

This applies especially to companies who are developing or deploying their own app, website, or software. Business owners must be vigilant in ensuring the safety and security of these platforms and not simply focus on how they can boost the company’s operations.

“Some companies are a little bit more ahead and are already thinking of developing either a new site or a new app [for their operations]. At that stage, they’re not necessarily considering security, they’re just looking at functionality. They want to sell fast, and they are deploying software that’s not necessarily tested or vetted,” added Hanen.

2. Data processing must be transparent, have a legitimate purpose, and be proportional.

So how can companies practice proper data privacy and cybersecurity protocols? Atty. Leandro Aguirre, Deputy Commissioner of the National Privacy Commission (NPC), suggests a good starting point in the three guiding principles of the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (DPA), the country’s set of regulations governing how organizations should process personal information.

The first of these principles is transparency, which means properly disclosing to your customers how you’re processing their data. “Transparency goes into the whole idea of trust. You want to be transparent with your customers and with your employees in terms of how you’re processing their information, and you have to do it by communicating it to them in a clear manner,” explained Aguirre.

The second principle, legitimate purpose, simply states that if a company will process customer data, they must have a valid reason why they’re doing so. “We want [your business] to use information only for a specific purpose that you’ve communicated with your customers,” added Aguirre.

Last but not least, data processing must have a sense of proportionality. This means that the data you collect for whatever purpose must only be enough for that purpose, avoiding instances where customers are required to divulge too much information and increasing the risks of a data breach. “The idea here is we want to minimize the amount of information we collect. If you don’t need that information, don’t collect it,” said Aguirre.

3. Proper security is discipline, responsibility, and acting right without delay.

In the same vein as Aguirre, AJ Dumanhug, the Co-founder, CTO, and CISO of Secuna, also shared three factors that make up a good cybersecurity strategy. This can be summed up with one sentence: “Security is discipline, responsibility, and acting right without delay.”

By discipline, he meant that companies must be consistent and persistent in how they relay practices about cybersecurity to their employees and customers. This includes strategies against common cyber attacks, tips on securing their devices, and reminders on how to better protect their assets. “For discipline, [these are] regular things that your business should do, such as educating your employees [as well as] your colleagues and users,” said Dumanhug.

By responsibility, he referred to how a company is handling the data they’re processing and understanding the types of data they have to protect. While Dumanhug recommends conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), he also says that a PIA alone won’t be enough. “PIA is not just for the privacy, it should be working hand-in-hand with cybersecurity. You have to make sure that all the data [you are handling] are secure,” shared Dumanhug.

And by acting right without delay, he recommended SME owners to have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) ready in the event of a cyber attack. But at the most basic level, Dumanhug said that companies must be smart, fast, and prepared to respond to a cyber threat. “Always remember that the winner is not the one with the strongest tools, but the one who is acting right the fastest,” added Dumanhug.

4. Make sure your data privacy and cybersecurity protocols consider remote working arrangements.

With these frameworks in mind, companies should have an easier time laying out their data privacy protocols and cybersecurity strategies. But Atty. Glorie Pineda, Senior Associate at multi-awarded law firm PJS Law, advised that businesses must take into consideration the new normal brought about by the ECQ, specifically the increased reliance on a remote working setup.

“Work-from-home arrangements are now here to stay. You must take this into consideration when you are drafting your policies and protocols, meaning that you must provide your employees with adequate standards. What do they have to take into consideration when they are working from home?” said Pineda.

She also recommended that business owners assess how their employees are accessing company data remotely. Without the proper protocols in place, businesses face a great risk of a data breach with different individuals accessing sensitive data from non-secure devices or connections. Companies must be diligent in implementing these protocols to protect their data even if their employees are working from home

“This goes beyond having the proper equipment, having the proper software, but also the security or the encryption methods that you must put in place when there is remote access to data, not just business data but also personal data. How do you extend that security that you have been implementing in your workplace?” explained Pineda.

5. Protect your business from cyber threats like you would protect your house from a fire.

In his discussion, Andrew Hong, Regional Director for Asia Pacific of multinational cybersecurity solutions provider CyberScout, brought up an analogy for SMEs to better relay the importance of having a concrete plan against cyber threats:

“Imagine you are a homeowner. In the event of a small fire, in every house you have a fire hydrant or an extinguisher, whether the mini tube one or the big one. But do you know that the mini type of extinguisher, you need to renew every year for licensing? Most people don’t, they just ignore. So when a fire happens, they take the fire extinguisher, and nothing comes out. There’s no foam because the things inside are expired. When the fire gets bigger hours later, you call for the [firefighters] to come in with their big hydrants, but then at least 90% of your property is lost [by then].”

Hong then explains that the fire is analogous to a cyber attack, and the fire extinguisher represents your company’s internal plan on how to handle them. Just like the mini fire extinguisher, your company must be careful with how they maintain it, and to make sure that it will be available when it is needed. The firefighters are the external organizations and experts that companies should call for help when needed, and Hong recommended that businesses be quick in asking for help.

“What to do when you have a cyber attack? Call for help early,” added Hong. “Do not delay [your] call for help.”


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Lifelines for SMEs

With Luzon’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) lasting for over two months, many small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners have felt the impact in their businesses. As many SMEs deal with limited sales, non-moving inventories, and reduced foot traffic, entrepreneurs will have to make several difficult decisions to make their financials work for them.

Anticipating these scenarios, both public and private organizations have rolled out various programs and projects aimed at helping SMEs get back on their feet after the ECQ. These projects were the focus of UNAWA’s fourth free webinar, “Navigating the New Normal: Government Lifelines for SMEs,” which featured representatives from both government agencies and private organizations talking about various ways that entrepreneurs can steer their business in the right direction after the ECQ.

In this article, we summarized three ways SME owners can keep their businesses afloat mentioned in the webinar:

1. Apply for the government’s SME-focused loan facilities

Recognizing that SMEs will be among the most affected sectors by the ECQ, several government agencies have rolled out loan facilities, cash assistance programs, and other projects aimed at helping entrepreneurs. One of these agencies is the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), which recently rolled out the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises or CARES Program, a Php1-billion loan facility targeted specifically to micro and small business owners.

Frank Gonzaga, Vice President for Planning and Advocacy at SB Corp., shared that the CARES Program can help entrepreneurs get back on their feet after the ECQ is lifted. Micro businesses, or those with an asset size of Php3 million or less, can apply for a loan worth up to Php200,000, while small businesses,or those with an asset size of Php15 million or less, can borrow up to Php500,000 from the program. 

“What are the purposes for you borrowing [from SB Corp.]? It’s either that you are going to restock your inventory, yung mga perishables niyo gusto niyong palitan (if you want to replenish your perishables) and you need more capital, so you can borrow from us. Or if you think you need more working capital, say for example you’re going digital and you’ll need to hire someone who’s really good in e-commerce, and then you can also borrow from us. Worse is may utang ka na binabayaran (you’re paying a loan) and you need to update those loans, you can also borrow from us to update those loans,” explained Gonzaga. 

He added that the CARES Program is only one of several projects that the government is rolling out as lifelines for SMEs. Many other agencies such as the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Agriculture, and the Philippine Guarantee Corporation are also offering loan programs that target SMEs.

“There are lifelines that you can call, and this is one of the lifelines that the government can offer. We are not the only one lending,” said Gonzaga.

2. Consider talking to investors when raising capital

While they are the most common, loans aren’t the only lifelines that SME owners can take advantage of after the ECQ. For Vince Rapisura, President and CEO of capacity builder SEDPI, he recommends that entrepreneurs raise capital from investors instead so that they do not have to deal with loan repayment terms that may prove harmful to company financials in the long run.

“Rather than looking for loans to restart your business, why don’t you look for investors who would share the risk and the profit with you? If you want to be on the safer side, it’s better to focus on mobilizing investors rather than seeking debt to restart and reboot,” advised Rapisura.

Rapisura points to two possible sources of investments at this time: an entrepreneur’s inner circle, which consists of friends and family; and crowdfunding platforms, where entrepreneurs can pitch their projects and ask for funds from various donors. These sources allow business owners to raise capital in their own terms and have better tabs on how much cash goes in and out of the company.

More importantly, Rapisura recommends investments over loans so that entrepreneurs can have more control over the deal. And if they are offering a product or service that can stand on its own, then Rapisura believes that SME owners won’t have a hard time getting the investments they need.

“The terms and conditions that you have to ask from your investors when they come in is that you still have control over your business,” said Rapisura. “If you have a very good business plan and if you have a very good product or service, and the need is there, madali maka-raise ng funds (it’s easy to raise funds).”

3. Prepare tax documents in advance

One financial obligation that many business owners have been worrying about is how they’re able to settle their tax filings with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). While the deadlines have been moved because of the ECQ, SME owners will still have to deal with submitting their deliverables and filing their taxes when their business is already strapped for cash.

Mon Abrea, Chairman and Senior Tax Advisor of tax advisory firm Asian Consulting Group, reminds his fellow entrepreneurs that the best way to prepare for tax filing season is to prepare as early as possible. For him, dealing with the BIR only becomes a hassle if the business owner isn’t sufficiently prepared or is only doing the work on the deadline itself, especially with many BIR deadlines potentially overlapping in the near future.

Mag-ooverlap ang maraming deadline, pero instead na mag-panic kayo, plan it now (Many deadlines will overlap, but instead of panicking, plan it now). Plan it ahead. There are ways to defer payments, and there are ways to reduce taxes. Gawin niyo na po ngayon, hindi kung kailan deadline (Do it now and not when it’s already the deadline). It’s not just being resilient, but we have to be more proactive,” said Abrea. 

He also advised entrepreneurs to take advantage of any deductible expenses they may have incurred during the lockdown period. As long as these expenses are properly documented, they can help ease the burden of tax filing for any SME owner.

“Make sure that you maximize whatever possible deductive expenses. Halimbawa, marami sa ating mga kababayan (For example, many Filipinos), even the small entrepreneurs, mga nag-donate (donated) during this pandemic. Might as well use it as a deductible expense,” said Abrea.

Seek the Lifelines for Your Business

Recovering from the ECQ won’t be easy, but SME owners don’t have to do it alone. Both public and private organizations have rolled out various ways that can make this recovery easier, and entrepreneurs only have to be diligent enough to apply for these different projects. Now more than ever, there is no shame in asking for help.

If you want to find out more about other lifelines that the government is offering to SMEs, check out our article on the Philippine government’s 4-Pillar Strategy. We also have a Telegram group where we continuously update members on the latest government releases focused on SMEs and give tips on how businesses can better cope with the effects of the ECQ.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.


Remote Work Management

Ask people about their “new normal” amid the pandemic, and chances are you’ll get many answers about working from home. While remote work has been the norm among freelancers and in certain industries even before the lockdown, it has moved from alternative to mainstream as a result of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Many workplaces are suddenly adjusting their operations to keep their businesses up and running.

UNAWA’s third free webinar, “Navigating the New Normal: Employee Welfare in a Remote Work Environment,” trained the spotlight on these issues and shared how business owners and leaders can keep the entire team engaged, productive, and well-adjusted while working from home. The panel featured representatives from the business, medical, and legal sectors who shared insights on how businesses can optimize their remote work setups.

In this article, we compiled one insight from each of our panelists on how SMEs and startups can better implement their remote working setups.

1. Find a daily schedule that works for you.

At its inception, game development company Altitude Games founded by Gabby Dizon in 2012 already implemented a remote work setup for 80% of its employees. The set up has been welcomed by many to the point that Gabby is now recognized in many other webinars for leading this remote working experience. 

One tip he shared in UNAWA’s webinar is for employees who are new to the remote working setup is to add structure to their daily routine. While an office-based setup automatically provides this structure, a home-based setup will need employees to create and adopt a structure that allows them to adjust to a remote working setup and achieve work-life balance.

“One of the things that we tell our team is to be able to create a structure for themselves, between what time they wake up, …prepare their breakfast, …do focused work [and] meetings, [and time] block[ed] off for their kids or family,” shared Dizon. “Without that kind of schedule or structure for yourself, it will be hard to thrive in a home-based environment.”

Employers should also be mindful of these schedules and help their employees adapt as much as possible. They can implement flexible working hours to account for more variation in schedules, and they can make sure that all communication lines are monitored in such a way that they are not used to outside of an employee’s schedule.

2. Explore collaborative ways to promote employee welfare remotely.

With working from home being an unfamiliar experience for most employees, some of your team may have difficulty adjusting to the new normal. Employees who are used to having casual conversations or hanging out with their workmates, for example, no longer have those outlets. This can lead to undue stress and feelings of loneliness.

Emma Guevarra, people director at multinational outsourcing firm TaskUs, revealed that the company has resorted to more creative ways of boosting morale while almost all of their employees are working from home. For one, most of their wellness activities, such as yoga and Zumba sessions, transitioned from in-person to a virtual platform, with many employees around the world joining in their video conferences to these sessions.

Guevarra also revealed that the company’s president releases wellness videos every week to help employees cope with the remote working setup. TaskUs has also established a website dedicated to helping their employees achieve “work-life harmony”.

“Even before COVID, we [have really been] advocating for a work-life alignment. You just need to set the boundaries, and the leaders respect that,” said Guevarra. “We continue that practice and culture even virtually.”

3. Executives should promote employee wellness efforts.

Following on from Guevarra’s sharing of her company’s practices, Suzy Roxas, a life and career strategist, highlighted another important factor that makes TaskUs’s activities work. Roxas pointed out that it was important that these employee wellness initiatives are either being promoted by the company’s executives, or are led by the executives themselves.

For Roxas, this setup allows employees to more easily integrate these programs into their daily schedules, which leads to them prioritizing their welfare. Business owners and leaders are best placed to set an example for the rest of their teams, as in an unfamiliar environment such as a remote working setup, employees will turn to their leaders for guidance more than ever.

“When the business leader is on top of the wellness program and he has a hand in measuring the quality or the importance of the wellness program and he holds everybody as part of the wellness program and actually participates in it, that buy-in automatically makes the employees value the wellness program, value well-being, and therefore join in the bandwagon,” explained Roxas. “As a result, you have a more flourishing work environment even in the time of stress.”

4. Analyze which parts of your operations can be done remotely.

While ideal, not every business can operate with every person working remotely. Some businesses require people to be on-site to be able to deliver their products and services properly, while others need to have an office-based team at all times. For these businesses, Atty. Regina Jacinto-Barrientos, managing and founding partner of award-winning law firm PJS Law, should think about how their workspaces can be more conducive to promoting a healthier environment.

“One of the things people should consider is analyzing their workspace,” reminded Jacinto-Barrientos. “Because there’s social distancing required, now you should determine how many people are in the room and if you need to be six feet apart. You need to analyze those things and consider moving people around, doing things, and even reconfiguring your office.”

Atty. Mona Dimalanta, CEO of UNAWA, adds that business owners should carefully examine their operations and determine which aspects can be done remotely. She believes that remote working strategies should be something that all business owners should think about when navigating the new normal.

“Break down your operations, …how you do your work, and take it up from there. What can be done remotely? What needs to be done in the office?” said Dimalanta. “There are also means like working in shifts to limit the number of people in the workplace at any given time.”

Make work-from-home work for you

While remote work has crept up on many businesses, it is nevertheless part of the new normal that employers and employees alike have to integrate into their lives. We hope that these tips can help you and your team craft a remote work strategy that can steer your business through the new normal while keeping your employees safe and healthy.

If you want to read more tips about working from home, Dizon shared a deck that goes over several tips and tricks on how your company can build an effective remote work strategy, which you can read here.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.