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Transportation is vital in all countries. In the Philippines, our transportation system is a very close issue to millions of Filipinos. It affects everyone from all walks of life, most especially the lower class. Currently, our government is working on a modern and efficient mass transport system to address traffic and congestion in the metro. But while we are trying to achieve that, we need to consider all players in the transportation ecosystem.
In the recent push for a modern transportation systems, jeepney drivers are a vulnerable group. Go Negosyo, however, can provide an opportunity to address some of their woes. Through the Go Negosyo’s Angat Lahat sa Digital Alliance, a network of digital players such as Grab and Angkas, we can find alternatives for stakeholders as we address the country’s transport concerns.
In my column last June 20, I shared the story of how the Ateneo de Manila University 2019 Class valedictorian Reycel Hyacenth Bendaña captured the hearts of people in most social media platforms through her speech. My goal was initially to let more people learn about her story and to draw inspiration from it. It turned out, however, she also gained inspiration from us.
She is actively working on some plans to help out the community where her dad belongs. Go Negosyo gave her the affirmation that she is not alone in her advocacy and that groups like us are open and willing to help a visionary and an advocate like her. Given the right channel and access to different kinds of resources, we both believe that we can work together towards affecting change in their community.
Bendaña is setting out to become a youth leader who will eventually get other youth involved in solving poverty in our country. Members of the youth like her and their vision will help to end poverty during their lifetime. After surpassing challenges in her life, I told her that she can now give back by starting her own social enterprise. She has to earn money so she can do more. That is why I took the initiative to arrange meetings with Angkas and Grab to start the conceptualization of Bendaña’s social enterprise.
As a follow through, Go Negosyo, represented by Jopin Romero and Mina Akram led the meeting that linked Bendaña to digital platforms Grab and Angkas, which both operate within the transport industry. It also served as a venue for digital platform leaders to hold initial talks with Bendaña. The meeting revolved mainly on the livelihood opportunities for jeepney drivers in the digital transformation.
Brian Cu, the president of Grab Philippines, expressed his intent to help reduce traffic in Metro Manila by providing alternative transportation solutions. He also shared that traffic is anti-poor because it reduces the ability of people to get from one place to another, which also leads to lost opportunities. According to Cu, “Traffic is caused by disorderly transportation and disorderly road planning. We support moves toward consolidation. But I think the first thing that we want to get on the same page on our debate is consolidation and rationalization, which is good for the country.”
During the meeting with Bendaña, leaders of the digital platforms offered to work with her and explore the creation of a pro-poor program targeting those who are directly affected by the modernization program. In the course of their exchange, Angeline Tham and George Royeca of Angkas also gained insights on the daily lives of jeepney drivers and a better understanding of how their transportation model works. Angkas also pledged to assist in training displaced jeepney drivers and integrate them as members of Angkas. They will then be driving motorcycles which cost less compared to modern jeepneys.
Through these meetings, Go Negosyo, Angkas, Grab, and Bendaña are set to work together to propose solutions for the affected drivers of the jeepney modernization program. These drivers need help in securing sustainable sources of income. Their inability to access new units of jeepneys to comply with the rules should not mean a total loss of income for them. It should, instead, pave the way for new income opportunities to come their way. Thankfully, digitalization can come to the rescue.
In this day of modern businesses, building a network is important. Aside from being a storyteller of inspiring stories, Go Negosyo also plays a vital role in linking advocacies and businesses. I believe that with these linkages and through digitalization, anyone including jeepney drivers, can earn a sustainable income by maximizing opportunities offered by different platforms such as Grab, Angkas, Lalamove, Ninjavan, etc.