City Holdings takes action against COVID-19

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting what M2030 partners are doing to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

In the last month, COVID-19 has spread quickly around the world. The speed and scale of the pandemic’s growth caught most by surprise. As communities scrambled to respond to this unprecedented health crisis, it became clear that effectively dealing with COVID-19 would require the combined efforts of governments, healthcare systems, businesses, and the actions of everyday people.

In Myanmar, City Holdings, Ltd. runs City Mart supermarkets, the largest chain of supermarkets in the country. As an M2030 partner, City Holdings have played a key role in raising awareness and funds to strengthen local health systems in support of malaria elimination. When COVID-19 emerged as a threat for the country, City Holdings continued their commitment to public health by taking action.

One week before the first cases of COVID-19 were even confirmed in Myanmar, City Holdings, through their City Love & Hope foundation, donated over 60 million kyats worth of medical equipment to the Myanmar Ministry of Health and Sports. This donation was specifically for COVID-19 preparedness, and would better prepare local hospitals to test and treat COVID-19 patients.

As the largest supermarket chain in the country, City Mart stores quickly responded to panic buying from consumers reacting to the COVID threat. Although unwarranted, countries around the world experienced panic buying as people stocked up on food, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper in response to the spreading pandemic. Myanmar was no different as nervous shoppers prepared for the worst.

To keep the public calm and informed, City Mart issued a public statement assuring there were no expected shortages of any essential foods or goods. City Mart also announced that prices in their stores would remain fixed in an effort to reduce price gouging on the local market. Although stores experienced two waves of panic buying as the pandemic spread to Myanmar, City Mart worked to quickly restock shelves to keep up with demand.

While Myanmar works to control the spread of COVID-19, City Holdings continues doing its part to keep communities healthy. City Mart stores are now checking temperatures of all visitors before they enter, providing free hand sanitizer for shoppers, and increasing the frequency and thoroughness of store cleaning.

On April 6th, City Love & Hope Foundation will also launch a new “Keep The Spirit High” campaign to combat COVID-19 by increasing accessibility to hand sanitizer for City Holdings staff and customers. The foundation will provide 200 million kyats worth of hand sanitizers for the first phase of the campaign. Hand sanitizer refill stations will be placed at City Holdings internal offices from April 6th onwards, and at five Ocean Supercenter locations in Yangon from April 7th onwards. Other stores and regional cities will be launched in future phases of the campaign.

Customers and employees can bring their own bottles for refills at the stations, limited to 500ml per person per day. The sanitizer will be provided with a participatory pricing scheme of “Pay What Your Heart Feels” where customers can choose to pay whatever amount they feel is fair, or not pay at all. The proceeds collected will be used to sustain the campaign and enable donations to selected organizations, authorities or communities to fight COVID-19 in Myanmar.

As an M2030 partner, City Holdings has supported the strengthening of local health systems, improving the capacity of communities to test for and treat malaria. Much like the effort to eliminate malaria, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will also require the private sector to work together with governments and healthcare professionals in a coordinated effort to fight the disease. City Holdings’ quick response to COVID-19 to keep people safe, calm, and informed demonstrates how critical businesses leadership can be during an emerging public health crisis.

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