Philippines

Family enterprises amid the Covid-19 environment

Among the vulnerable groups highly impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic include workers and professionals who lost their jobs. Records show that as of April 2020, the country experienced an unprecedented unemployment rate of 17.7 percent representing 7.3 million Filipinos who lost their jobs as they bore the brunt of economic disruptions brought by the pandemic.

As we continue to face unfolding events in the sudden shift in work settings and lifestyles, we begin to notice the seemingly rise of enterprising household members who have seized opportunities to start microenterprises right within their homes. In particular, we refer to apparent symptoms of increasing home-based enterprises in the food business. We are witness to some friends and relatives who recently set up a small food business using their home as a production area. Through social media and networking with friends, relatives and old acquaintances, they have gradually developed a customer base to expand their business. As they can better pace their activities while at home, they have unleashed their creativity. Some have crafted a unique selling proposition for their product to enhance memory recall. While maybe lacking in formal entrepreneurship training, family members discover innovative ways to package their product to ensure safe consumption and efficient delivery, while maintaining the attractive features. Realizing that procurement and inventory are challenging in the light of uncertain conditions amid Covid-19, family members strive to be more resourceful in locating reliable suppliers to meet production goals. In this light, this sudden experience in “learning-by-doing” approach to micro-entrepreneurship approach augurs well for developing further small family startups which help mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19 on income streams.

In the context of organizational learning, the home environment of a small family enterprise continues to be a rich resource for entrepreneurship research and management practice. For one, the theory of imprinting helps to explain how the lessons learned by family members — transmitted over time through family interrelationships — bear an impact on the development of human resources in the family firm. The theory points out the importance of imprinting positive work values and ethical practices by older family members to their younger, budding entrepreneurs. Parents are significant role models for their children. As such, the results of imprinting in family enterprises is significant in its implications to entrepreneurial legacy and continuity, although they may not necessarily be always positive. In particular, this would occur when inappropriate or unethical business behavior is manifested by parents, or when some negative traits such as entitlement and injustice become imprinted early in the family culture.

In this light, educational institutions have an important role in promoting lifelong learning that integrates the positive and creative experiences of teachers, parents and learners. Lifelong learning represents the continuous cultivation of one’s hobbies, interests and career aspirations throughout life. Organizational learning within the context of the home’s entrepreneurial setting provides the right opportunities for transforming individuals into more responsible, productive and humanistic organizational members in their own homes and as part of outside society.

Dr. Rachel Alvendia-Quero is an associate professorial lecturer at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University (DLSU), Manila. She teaches Management Action Research and Strategic Human Resource Management at the graduate levels. She authored a textbook on Business Enterprise Simulation for senior high school and recently volunteered as coach for college students undertaking social enterprise projects under the Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development Program. Comments are welcome at rachel.quero@dlsu.edu.ph. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, and its faculty and administrators.

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