Concerted efforts from both public and private sectors are pivotal in emerging in a post-pandemic normal
This sentiment is clear for companies like SM Investments Corporation (SM), the country’s leading conglomerate, which has helped bolster the national government’s recovery plan at the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) through several health and community initiatives.
“We are always committed to serving the community better. We use the synergies across our businesses and mobilize resources using our broad network to provide wide support around the country,” said SM Investments President and Chief Executive Officer Frederic C. DyBuncio.
Helping Drive Vaccinations
At the forefront of broad vaccination and health efforts, SM ordered over 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for its employees and in support of national needs.
Across the group, about 130,000 SM employees have been vaccinated to date as the company continues to push for enhanced health and protection among its people.
SM offered its facilities as vaccination sites across the country to aid local government units (LGUs) to inoculate their respective communities safely and conveniently. SM Supermalls has supported the vaccination program of various local governments with over 7.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in 71 malls around the country.
For its staunch commitment to the vaccination campaign, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Diseases (IATF) gave special recognition to SM for having administered COVID-19 vaccines nationwide.
SM Prime is on the front lines of UN ARISE, a Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, which calls for a collective effort to incorporate disaster resilience as a core business strategy. It also promotes private-public partnerships to share global best practices in building disaster-resilient cities and communities.
SM Prime allocates 10% of its capital expenditure to integrate disaster-resilient features in its property designs. This has proven successful in enabling it to operate safely during calamities and even serve as a safe haven for communities who are affected.
When Typhoon Odette (Rai) struck, SM malls in Cebu, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Puerto Princesa provided temporary shelter to customers and nearby residents by offering free Wi-Fi, charging stations, drinking water, light snacks, overnight parking and help desks ready to serve customers affected by the typhoon.
In times of disasters, SM swiftly mobilizes the immediate distribution of relief goods using its broad footprint and through its foundations. It also provides critical mobility for essential equipment and goods through its logistics firms. It gives shelter and connectivity to those affected by the typhoon in its malls and activates its banks and malls as collection points for donations while keeping open its stores, banks and malls whenever it could to provide essential public service.
SM also quickly reopened essential stores to provide for the immediate needs of the people after the devastating typhoon. It also opened its banks to assist customers’ transactions needs.
Adopting Renewable Energy
“Above and beyond the pandemic, climate change is a serious threat to the planet, and the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries. We recognize the part we need to play in addressing our own energy needs sustainably and supporting the development of renewable energy for the country,” Mr. DyBuncio said.
SM Prime Holdings, SM’s property company, announced it aims to increase its use of renewable energy sources to more than 50% across all its business segments in 2022, well ahead of the national goals to be 35% renewable by 2030.
Its diversification of energy suppliers’ program will highlight the company’s use of solar roof decks in its various properties that will support the electricity requirements of its business operations.
BDO has accelerated efforts in sustainable finance.
BDO Unibank recently disclosed plans to raise P5 billion through the issuance of peso-denominated fixed-rate sustainability bonds. This will diversify the bank’s funding sources and finance or refinance eligible assets under its Sustainable Finance Framework. This is the first time the bank will be issuing such bonds to both institutional and retail investors after its US$150-million green bond in 2017 with the International Finance Corporation as the sole investor.
In over a decade of pursuing Sustainable Finance, BDO has financed 2,184 megawatts of the country’s total installed renewable energy capacity.
SM continued to support business continuity of MSMEs.
Through its SM StartUp Package (www.smsupermalls.com), SM is offering start-up packages to MSMEs to boost their initial entry into retail markets. These include start-up friendly rental rates and use of kiosks or carts free of charge; marketing assistance to give the brand free exposure in SM online assets and ad spaces inside malls; financial assistance with BDO Unibank; and mentorship from SM experts on operations and marketing. SM Supermalls launched the first batch of MSME shops through the SM StartUp Markets in 13 malls nationwide.
BDO Network Bank is also dedicated to providing MSMEs and the beneficiaries of Overseas Filipinos with businesses access to additional funds. The MSME Loan or Kabuhayan Loan was designed to assist small business owners in need of extra funding to increase their inventory of stocks, purchase business equipment and assets, and pursue plan of expansion.
Building a Sustainable Future
SM promotes sustainable practices through water recycling. In 2020, SM was able to recycle 28.9 million cubic meters of water.
To help protect communities during disasters, SM Prime has constructed 22 rainwater catchments nationwide, helping reduce flooding in communities, particularly those most vulnerable.
With city mobility affected by COVID-19 restrictions, SM also created a bike-friendly network in its integrated lifestyle cities and facilities to meet the growing needs of cyclists going to work, helping lower carbon footprint while promoting health.
Meanwhile, NEO, a part of SM Investments’ equity investments portfolio, was cited as the first company in the world to be certified as EDGE Zero Carbon for all their buildings by the International Finance Corporation. NEO is also the first office portfolio in Southeast Asia to achieve the WELL Health-Safety Seal. Its entire portfolio is certified 5 Stars under BERDE (Building for Ecologically Responsive Design Excellence), the country’s national voluntary green building rating tool.
SM is taking further actions to address climate action. Both SM Investments and SM Prime Holdings signed on as supporters of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an international framework on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) reporting.
SM has also consistently taken the sustainable development agenda as an integral part of its business strategy, sealing its commitment in March 2019 when SM Investments enlisted as a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact.
To show its commitment, SM established a group-wide Sustainability Office to ensure best-in-class standards, drive initiatives and support all the SM businesses to help promote a sustainable brand for everyday Filipino life.
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