‘Smart Coops’ program empowers cooperative through digital technology

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In keeping with its commitment to the company’s core value of “malasakit”, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) is boosting the digital adaptation of the Cordillera Basic Sectors Transport Cooperative (CBSTC) through the Smart Coops initiative.

Smart Coops is an ICT-based capacity development program that enables digitalization of cooperatives through ICT solutions. This includes affordable device bundles like Smart Bro Prepaid and PLDT Home WiFi, discounted data packages like Unli GIGA Video, Unli GIGA Stories and Double GIGA Video, integration into the PayMaya platform, and additional livelihood opportunities through the Smart Ka-Partner retailer program. Partnering with Smart Coops also onboards the organization into the Smart Infocast platform, a web-based SMS broadcast solution that will facilitate seamless communication with members. To help cooperatives adapt to the digital shift, Smart Coops equips members with basic knowledge on digital tools that could help them improve their skills, expand their knowledge on online transactions, earn extra income and cope with the digitalization efforts of their cooperative.

“Digitalization also opens income opportunities for members. We want to help public transport drivers, conductors and operators who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic rise up with the aid of technology,” said Cathy Yap-Yang, First Vice President and Group Head of Corporate Communications of PLDT and Smart.

Smart recently tapped Limitless Lab to train select CBSTC members on how digital tools can help members augment their income. The participants, serving as instructors, will then share what they learned from the program with their fellow coop members that include public utility vehicle drivers, conductors and operators, ‘sarisari store’ owners and online sellers.

The interactive online session featured topics on the use of smartphones, browsing the internet, cybersecurity, social networking and online messaging platforms, social media marketing and e-commerce including digital payments.

CBSTC member Princess Mapili valued the discussion on cybersecurity, “Most members of CBSTC are senior citizens who are vulnerable to online scams. It’s very important for us to teach them about internet safety so they’re protected against cyberattacks.”

With the pandemic taking a toll on public transport drivers and operators, as well as business owners, CBSTC member Glaydy Baiwes appreciated learning about digital marketplaces. “The topic is very useful for us because it teaches us how to use technology in promoting our products and services as well as in connecting us with our customers,” Baiwes added.

The Cordillera Basic Sectors Transport Cooperative plays a major role in public transportation across the Cordillera region. The cooperative works to safely transport commuters and keep roads safe for other users as well. CBSTC drivers undergo a ladderized program before they’re deployed to the different transport routes in the region. The cooperative also prides itself as the first and largest transport group that supports the government’s Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP).

To support digitalization efforts of grassroots organizations like CBSTC, PLDT and Smart have been expanding their infrastructure to provide for the communication needs of Filipinos. These services are backed by PLDT’s most extensive fiber infrastructure, at more than 524,000 kilometers. This also supports Smart’s mobile networks, which now cover 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. Smart’s 5G network–the country’s first, fastest and widest, now has more than 4,000 sites across the Philippines.

The Smart Coops initiative underscores the commitment of PLDT and Smart to support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, particularly No Poverty (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8).

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