Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI)—the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country—has expanded its Balik Pinas program to national scale to reach more repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and help them start their own business at home.

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Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO.

“Coca-Cola’s commitment to Filipinos has only grown stronger, in weathering this crisis together,” said Gareth McGeown, CCBPI President and CEO. “We will help and support where we can. Through Balik Pinas, our goal is to help repatriated OFWs who have lost their livelihood abroad to start anew, via owning and operating their own business and be successful here, at home, with their families.”

With the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), CCBPI aims to reach more OFWs who are interested to start their own business through Balik Pinas.

Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs show that as of September 2020, over 190,000 overseas Filipino workers have been repatriated. Balik Pinas gives opportunities to OFWs to be part of the Coca-Cola family as a distributor, wholesaler, or a community reseller.

Balik Pinas is a journey that the company and new entrepreneurs take together at every step—from setting up the business, to sustaining it, to ensuring growth. Coca-Cola assists former OFWs in choosing a suitable business model for their area, helps in managing their cash flow and inventory, and sees to it that they are given proper guidance and training until they are fully ready and equipped to operate on their own—all in all, a sustainable and profitable business founded on practical support from a global beverage brand.

According to Carlos Rivera, CCBPI Territory Sales Team in Naga City, the Balik Pinas Program started as a small-scale initiative in Naga City to help former OFWs.

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Just a couple of months after returning home, Carlos Manzano and his family was able to set up their business as Coca-Cola distributor through the Balik Pinas Program, which Carlos said has reshaped his life and outlook forever. IN PHOTO: Carlos and their family’s multi-cab routing unit with the Coca-Cola Naga Sales team.

When the program’s pilot rollout started, the Manzanos—brothers Carlos and Jazz, and their father Lito—were among the pioneer members. Carlos and Jazz had both been working for several years in Qatar until the COVID-19 pandemic shook the trajectory of their career and, consequently, the well-being of their families. Together with their father, Lito, who also used to be an overseas worker, they set up a beverage distribution business in their hometown Naga City.

Their optimism, as with any new business venture, was tempered with anxiety over how it would all turn out—especially with the considerable challenge of launching during such tenuous times until Rivera offered them membership to the Balik Pinas Program of Coca-Cola. Now, the Manzanos are running a profitable business as Coca-Cola distributors.

“Even when I had to leave Qatar suddenly because of the lay-offs, I always envisioned that I would head back to work there when things settle. But with Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas, I have a livelihood that doesn’t take me away from my family as being an OFW had,” said Carlos. 

Lito can still remember his first order of 60 cases of Coke products. Now, the Manzano  family business has grown to an average of 4,000 cases a month, just five months after they started—a feat magnified for it being in the middle of a pandemic and strict quarantine measures. The Manzanos have also since invested in routing units to augment their business’s capabilities—a multicab and a tricycle.

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Since starting his business in 2019, Billy Belleza (left), is now one of the prominent Coca-Cola distributors in his area and has added another mini truck to serve more routes and deliveries. Billy is one of the pioneers of Coca-Cola’s Balik Pinas program.

Another Balik Pinas program pioneer member is Billy Belleza who decided to return to the country after working for 20 years in Brunei. “I am really thankful that Coca-Cola reached out to me to be a part of this. They have never failed to present opportunities for me and my business to grow since I decided to take part in the Balik Pinas Program. My sales actually soared this year,” said Belleza, who is also based in Naga City.

According to Rivera, Balik Pinas Program was really designed for returning OFWs like Billy, Carlos, and Jazz and their families to set up and run a viable business at home. “With their success and in light of current events, this program was expanded to operate on a national scale, so the company can lend assistance to repatriated OFWs and their families as they weather through new challenges brought on by the pandemic,” Rivera said.

Coca-Cola has consistently sought to create programs to support MSMEs, more so now with the COVID-19 pandemic having disrupted countless lives and livelihoods.

With programs like Balik Pinas, Coca-Cola remains firm in their commitment to help local communities, contributing to the restart of the national economy—by way of reaching out to Filipinos. 

To know more about the program, you may reach Coca-Cola’s contact center at (02)-8813-COKE (2653). For SMART/PLDT users: toll-free number: 1800-1888-COKE (2653); and for GLOBE users: toll-free number: 1800-8888-COKE (2653). You may also contact 0919-160-COKE (2653) via SMS.

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