Speaking at the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Expo of the League of Corporate Foundations (LCF) on July 5, Sen. Bam Aquino talked about how a “bayanihan economy” can help the Philippines achieve inclusive growth.
The term “bayanihan economy”, coined by former NEDA Director Dr. Cielito Habito, speaks of an economy where “all players work together toward a shared goal of uplifting the lives of all.”
According to Aquino, who was pointing to a classic visual depiction of rural folk lifting a nipa hut as a display of bayanihan, “You don’t know anymore if the guys lifting the house are the owners, their neighbors, or are passersby who offered to help. In bayanihan, everyone has a role to play.”
A former social entrepreneur who has won local and international awards for his micro-enterprise program Hapinoy, Aquino identified possible interventions that can help the Philippines move closer toward a “bayanihan economy.” These are:
1. Micro-finance. According to Aquino, there are currently around 4.5 million micro-finance borrowers in the country. “But the current capacity of microfinance institutions can accommodate another six million borrowers, which means that through micro-finance we can have six million more potential micro-entrepreneurs who can lift their families out of poverty.”
2. Social enterprise development. “Social enterprises are the missing middle, connecting large corporations and small communities,” Aquino said. Citing his experience in developing the Hapinoy program, Aquino said that the willingness to help of large companies is there but the capacity to reach the community is sometimes unavailable. He also added, “The role of social enterprise is to make sure that these communities and companies get to talk and work together.”
3. MSME development. Aquino cited the large contribution of micro- and small enterprises (MSMEs) to the Philippine economy, pointing out that 92 percent of all businesses in the Philippines are micro-enterprises that largely belong to the informal sector, while only seven percent belong to the small and medium category. “Sadly, MSME’s don’t get enough support from the government.” One of his priority bills, Aquino said, is to help create a more “enabling environment” for MSMEs “beyond entrepreneurial training.”
“More MSMEs are able to provide more employment than large corporations,” the first-time lawmaker added as another reason for helping boost MSMEs.
4. Youth entrepreneurship. “Youth unemployment is one of the largest problems not only of youth in the Philippines, but also in the entire world,” Aquino pointed out.