Newly established Starlink program helps MSMEs in Catanduanes with internet issues 

Several micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Catanduanes bid farewell to internet connectivity issues with the help of the Sarilink program which was initiated by Packworks, a newly established business venture, in partnership with Help.NGO, an international non-profit organization.

The program aims to bridge the digital divide in the Philippines, starting with Catanduanes, by providing Starlink internet connectivity to several sari-sari stores through the installation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communications terminals.

Starlink offers an internet connection that goes up to 220 megabits per second (mbps) for download and 80 mbps for upload, which grants local entrepreneurs an opportunity to digitize their operations, improve business management, and access digital tools for growth. 

“Bridging the digital divide, especially in isolated communities, can bring outsized impact on resiliency by giving people the ability to communicate and connect to the internet, they are able to build their own resilience. We are excited to work with local partners, including Packworks, to push resilience through connectivity,” Help.NGO Innovation Director Matthew Cua said.

Additionally, the enrollees of the program had their sales growth monitored using Amazon Web Services (AWS) data analytics in order to ensure effective support for business optimization, as AWS services enable efficient data collection, processing, analysis, and visualization, ultimately supporting effective business. 

Among the beneficiaries who shared their success from the program was Cynthia Icaonapo, a 49-year-old store owner of Nisos Variety Store in Pandan, Catanduanes, who recorded a 53 percent increase in transactions in February 2024.

“Noon, manu-mano naming sinusulat ang bawat pinamimili ng mga customer at mobile data lang ang gamit namin na mabagal sa aming lugar. Kaya laking pasasalamat namin at nakabitan kami ng Starlink Internet dahil mas pinadali na nito ang bawat transaksyon namin sa araw-araw,” she said.

Starlink is a global satellite internet system operated by SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk and has the goal of providing high-speed internet to all places across the globe, especially in rural areas where internet is a deficit.

This desire to develop urban areas has led to this project targeting urban areas with business establishments as its target beneficiaries.

“We are thrilled to partner with Help.NGO, a collaboration that advances our vision of bringing digitization to the forefront of Philippine economic development. This partnership is not just about providing technology but about crafting a future where every small business owner has the tools to succeed in the digital age,” Packworks Co-founder and Chief Platform Officer Hubert Yap shared regarding the partnership. 

“Through this strategic collaboration, we are excited about the potential to expand this initiative, ensuring that the benefits of digital connectivity reach every corner of the Philippines and setting a precedent for grassroots-level economic resilience and sustainability.” | Jerwin Basas