MANILA – Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat urged micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to avail of the CARES for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood (CARES for TRAVEL) Program to help them sustain their businesses and keep their workers amid the on-going pandemic.

This, after the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp), announced the opening of loan applications under the CARES for TRAVEL program during a DOT-hosted webinar titled “Covid-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES): Accessing to Zero Interest Working Capital Loan” on October 27.

“The CARES for TRAVEL program primarily seeks to assist tourism MSMEs. The support we give them now will come a long way in ensuring their survival in the coming days as we embark on slowly resuming tourism. The DOT is thrilled to share the news that enterprises may submit their loan applications online, while we are awaiting the download of funds to SB Corp,” Puyat said.

Through the DOT and SB Corp’s CARES for TRAVEL program, tourism MSMEs will have access to zero interest, no-collateral loans with a loan term period of up to four years, including a corresponding grace period of up to one year. The borrower MSMEs will only need to pay a one-time service fee to the SB Corp, the amount of which will depend on the loan term period: 4 percent for one year; 6 percent for two years; 7.5 percent for three years; and 8 percent for four years.

SB Corp will evaluate and process all loan applications of DOT-accredited MSMEs and local government (LGU)-accredited small-scale tourism-oriented enterprises to ensure their eligibility and will determine the loanable amount and terms in accordance with the CARES for TRAVEL program guidelines.

According to SB Corp, MSMEs with financial statements (FS) in 2018 or 2019 filed with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and have no unresolved negative credit dealings are automatically eligible to apply for a loan under the program.

The initial loan amount to be granted to MSME applicants will be based on the submitted BIR-filed FS: not more than PHP1 million for medium enterprises; not more than PHP500,000 for small enterprises; and not more than PHP200,000 for microenterprises. Applications a higher loan amount may be approved by the SB Corp, provided that enterprises submit their written plan on how to restart or improve their business models.

Meanwhile, the SB Corp shall require additional requirements for MSMEs without BIR-filed FS, which includes 2019 Mayor’s Business Permit for loan requests exceeding PHP50,000, and 2019 Barangay Business Permit for loans less than PHP50,000. Enterprises must also submit pictures and videos of inventories, equipment, and assets to SB Corp and have no major unresolved negative credit dealings.

Last October 12, Romulo-Puyat and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez signed a memorandum of agreement that seeks to disburse the PHP6-billion budget allocated to the SB Corp’s CARES program under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), directing the agency to expand its loan programs, including that for tourism and “to administer loans for DOT but subject to guidelines from the DOT.

“It was through our consultations with our stakeholders that we were able to pinpoint working capital loans as one—if not the most pressing need of tourism enterprises. Realizing the important role that MSMEs hold in the recovery of the tourism industry, the DOT shall see to it that the allocation for the CARES for TRAVEL program is dispersed fairly to qualified enterprises who will apply,” Puyat added.

Tourism enterprises may access the SB Corp’s CARES Bayanihan 2 Borrower Registration System here: https://brs.sbgfc.org.ph. (PR)