Before the COVID-19 pandemic, public markets were filled with people and tricycles could carry multiple passengers to different destinations. As the pandemic took its toll, people were forced to stay home, causing the market sellers and tricycle drivers to lose income. To aid these struggling livelihoods, the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo and Quezon City Government, through the partnership of the Angat Buhay program and the Small Business and Cooperatives Development Promotions Office, officially launched the Community Mart app last May 11, 2020, allowing QC residents to order fruits, vegetables, meat, and other market goods online to be delivered by tricycle fresh from Kamuning Market to their homes. Because of the Enhanced Community Quarantine guidelines in effect at the time, letters had to be sent out to inform the pilot barangays and the MMDA of the program and the hiring of Kamuning TODA as Community Mart delivery drivers. Initially, Community Mart launched in six pilot barangays near Kamuning Market: Kamuning, Laging Handa, Mariana, Obrero, Sacred Heart, and South Triangle before expanding to nine more barangays, including Damayang Lagi, Horseshoe, Immaculate Concepcion, Kaunlaran, Kristong Hari, Paligsahan, Pinagkaisahan, Roxas, and Valencia.
Community Mart sought to accomplish two things. First, it sought to sell market goods and deliver these directly to residents’ homes. Second, it sought to help both market sellers and tricycle drivers recover from the effects of the pandemic. From this perspective, Community Mart can be considered a success during the period it was active. In the first month, the app was well received and used, reaching PhP 1 million worth of sales for Kamuning Market.
There are two factors that facilitated the success Community Mart had achieved. First, it was marketed well and backed heavily by both the Office of the Vice President and the Quezon City Government. Both offices laid a good foundation for the service to launch during the ECQ when regulations were stricter non-essential travel was prohibited. Second, it forged strong partnerships among market sellers and tricycle drivers. These partnerships translated to success stories, such as that of Disirie Gruta whose sales had suffered due to the pandemic, but recovered with the help of Community Mart. However, it became evident with the expansion of Community Mart that the manpower, facilities, and resources available were insufficient.
As quarantine restrictions have loosened up, recent sales of Community Mart in Kamuning Market have slowed down considerably, which led to the decision to conclude its operations on August 1, 2020. For LGUs who wish to include their own public markets in the app, they should provide enough manpower, facilities, and resources to manage the market’s operations six days per week. They should also ensure that there is a sufficient demand of market goods from smartphone users within the market’s vicinity that can be sustained.