Month: November 2014

PH social enterprise covers 2.5M poor Filipinos – study

MANILA, Philippines – Social enterprises in the Philippines have covered at least 2.5 million people living below the poverty line, according to a study commissioned by Oxfam.

The number, which is more than half of the total government count of poor Filipinos in 2012, could double if government lends a hand in promoting social enterprise, said Marie Lisa Dacanay, president of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia.

The study, called “Poverty Reduction and Women Economic Leadership: Roles, Potentials and Challenges of Social Enterprises in Developing Countries in Asia,” covered Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines and was presented at the 1st Social Enterprise Advocacy and Leveraging Conference in Asia on November 25 to 27.

“Social enterprise should be a complimentary poverty-reduction strategy of the government,” Dacanay told Rappler on Thursday, November 27.

Social enterprises are businesses of traditional capitalism models but with solutions that seek to address long-term goals such as poverty.

In the Philippines, social enterprises can be classified as cooperatives, microfinance institutions, (MFIs), fair trade organizations, trading development organizations, and new-generation enterprises.

MFIs alone made the highest impact in reaching poor Filipinos, according to the study, with more than 90% of contribution among other social enterprises.

As of December 2013, the study cited that MFIs had 23,672 cooperatives, with a total combined assets at P266.80 million ($5.94 million*). Cooperative members were at least 12.6 million, although not all of the members can be considered “of the poor” and “serving the poor.”

Out of the 12.6 million members, about 2.5 million Filipinos are clients of non-governmental organization-linked MFIs.

“Microfinance therefore plays a significant role in providing business,” the study said.

The Philippines does not have an official count of social enterprises though, but researchers estimate at least 30,000 institutions have been providing programs and services in the country.

Government support not enough

Government statistics said there were 4.2 million of poor Filipinos in 2012, an increase from 3.8 million 2006.

The Asian Development Bank explained such was caused by a dearth of poverty reduction measures and insufficient job generation.

To address this pressing concern, the country needs to enhance its public-private partnerships (PPP), develop capital markets, and boost access to finance, said ADB Philippines country director Richard Bolt.

At present, government’s role in social enterprises is manifested through the Department and Trade and Industry, People’s Credit and Finance Corporation, Land Bank of the Philippines, and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

Other state-sponsored microfinancing programs also include the Livelihood Credit Assistance Program and the SME (small and medium enterprise) Unified Lending Opportunities for National Growth program.

But government efforts to support social entrepreneurship are not enough, Dacanay said.

At Thursday’s social enterprise conference here, stakeholders from different Asian countries urged lawmakers to pass bills supporting the industry which are pending in the Senate and Congress.

Two versions of the “Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship” bill aims to provide a backbone for institutions that are engaged with such business practice.

The bills are inspired by South Korea’s Social Enterprise Promotion Act which was put to law in 2007. (READ: Developing social enterprise: Lessons from Korea)

Current government regulations, such as taxing small cooperatives while giving tax holidays to big-ticket investments, do not jive well with the country’s bid to take the poor out from their predicament, Dacanay said.


Social enterprises: Vehicles for poverty reduction and inclusive growth

One out of four Filipinos continue to live below the poverty line. The Philippines will not be able to achieve by 2015 its commitment to cut in half those who are living on USD1.25/day or the threshold of absolute poverty.

Such bleak picture from the Philippine government’s own assessment of the country’s development performance is in sharp contrast to the glowing figures of economic growth over the past 6 years. If we add the glowing figures about the increase in assets of the richest Filipinos, one could easily make the conclusion that our country’s economic growth has not been inclusive.

The Philippines is not the only country that is not going to reach its development target of cutting in half their population living below the poverty line. But despite this, the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons that was commissioned to study and recommend the world’s post-2015 development goals has made a call for new global partnerships to transform economies, eliminate poverty and achieve gender equality by 2030.

It is in this context that social entrepreneurship is being proposed and explored as a strategy by the First Social Enterprise Advocacy and Leveraging Conference in Asia (SEAL-Asia).

Social entrepreneurship is all about innovative and sustainable solutions to social problems. And in the context of poverty and inequality, social enterprises with the poor as primary stakeholders or SEPPS have emerged as innovative responses to these problems.

These social enterprises engage the poor not only as workers, suppliers and clients but also as partners in their development. At their best and over time, the poor are enabled to become pro-active stakeholders in value chains and economic subsectors; co-owners, managers and decision makers of their own social enterprises; as well as empowered citizens in their communities and society at large.

SEPPS in the Philippines include social mission-driven microfinance institutions like the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI); social cooperatives and their federations like the Omaganhan Farmers Agrarian Reform Cooperative and the National Federation of Cooperatives of Persons with Disability; fair trade organizations serving small farmers like Bote Central and Alter Trade Foundation Inc; trading development organizations serving marginalized producers like Pilipinas Ecofiber Corporation and Rural Reconstruction Trade; and new generation social enterprises like Human Nature and Hapinoy.

External challenges

A survey involving a sample of 32 SEPPS in the Philippines, conducted as part of a multi-country study by ISEA and Oxfam to be shared during SEAL-Asia, shows great potential for this sector to play a key role in addressing poverty and inequality in the next decade. The combined reach of these 32 SEPPS alone reached 2.5 million poor. If we assume that each poor family reached had 2 members, this figure represents about 30% of the estimated number of poor families in 2012.

The same study cited the many external challenges faced by SEPPS: extreme weather disturbances; government policies negatively affecting social enterprises; inaccessible or inappropriate government programs; corruption in government regulatory bodies; changing market environments and trade liberalization; inadequacy of programs supporting social enterprise development; and industry and market practices negatively affecting social enterprises.

These challenges are the main drivers why SEPPS and their support institutions in the Philippines have come together to set up two major platforms. One is the Reconstruction Initiative through Social Enterprise (RISE) to make social entrepreneurship a major strategy for building back better in Yolanda affected provinces. The other is the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Coalition, which is pushing for the enactment of a PRESENT law.

An important recommendation emanating from the Oxfam-ISEA study is informative: “…government and business institutions need to be willing to change the policies and practices that have not worked in favor of the poor, and undertake strategic innovations to support the scaling up of SEPPS.”

A strategic innovation toward this direction is the passage and implementation of the PRESENT bill being championed by Sen. Bam Aquino and Congressmen Teddy Baguilat/Cresente Paez in both houses of Congress.


Sen. Bam Supports March of Coco Farmers via Filing of Trust Fund Bill

A senator has filed a bill seeking to create a Coconut Levy Trust Fund to help boost the development of the coconut industry and alleviate lives of coconut farmers and their families.

“For more than forty years, coconut farmers have long been fighting for their rights, not only to access to the Coco Levy Fund but also for the opportunity to develop their industry,” Senator Bam Aquino said in Senate Bill No. 2467.

Earlier, Sen. Aquino supported an indirect initiative filed by Kilusan para sa Ugnayan ng Samahan ng mga Magniniyog or KILUS Magniniyog, calling for the creation of a trust fund from the coco levy fund.

“The livelihood of millions of coconut farmers depends on the coco levy fund so it must be used to uplift the sector,” the group said in a statement when it filed the initiative.

The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported that coconut farmers are earning just between P16,842 to P23,000 per year, a far cry from the P61,000 average annual net income of an agricultural household.

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), for its part, said 41 percent of coconut farmers live below the poverty line.

“It is high time to change its narrative from one of the poorest sector in the country to a great economic driver and source of pride of the Filipino people,” added Aquino.

Aquino stressed that the P73-billion Coco Levy Fund will further advance farming technology and intercropping, which in turn, harness the coconut industry’s potential to address increasing demands and offer coco fiber, water, and oil, among others to new markets.

Earlier, the Supreme Court declared that the coco levy fund belongs to the government and should be used for the welfare of coconut farmers.

Aquino’s measure seeks to finance programs for the increased productivity of coconut farms, capacity building of farmers, research and development of coconut-based enterprises, and implementation of poverty-alleviation programs.

“The goal is to rehabilitate and revitalize the industry to stimulate production and attract investments that will make it again a viable, profitable and sustainable endeavor,” Aquino said.

In addition, the proposal seeks to modernize the farmers and stakeholders to make coconut production globally competitive and become a vital source of economic income for the country.

“It is thus urgent and important to provide the coconut farmers the enabling environment and proper opportunity to thrive and flourish, and be able to participate in building this nation” Aquino said. 

Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview after the inspection of Noche Buena/Media Noche Goods at Welcome Supermarket in Pasay

QUESTION: Ano po ang inyong assessment sa inspection natin?

ANSWER: We checked ang Noche Buena list natin sa SRP. Lahat naman pasok. In some cases, mas mababa pa nga sila. We’re quite happy with the inspection. Pagdating nga sa pasta, compared to last year, malaki nga ang binaba sa presyo.

Of course, everytime bumababa ang presyo, masaya kami ni Usec Dimagiba at lahat ng mga namimili. So far, we’re happy to say that in this check, lahat naman pasok na pasok.

QUESTION: Iyon pong ham, napansin po namin, pabagu-bago po ang presyo?

ANSWER: Pagdating sa meat products, mayroon talagang fluctuations. Pero the ones that we saw earlier, pasok siya sa suggested retail price.

Sen. Bam Aquino’s Interview during the Destruction of Uncertified Christmas Lights at DTI

QUESTION: Ano po ang role ninyo sa activity na ito?

ANSWER: Ako kasi ang Chairman ng (Senate) Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship so we have oversight function sa Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Throughout the year, aside from helping our micro and small entrepreneurs, isang lagi rin namin ginagawa ay ang consumer check, of course with Usec. (Victor) Dimagiba and Secretary Greg (Domingo).

This time, ang nakikita natin ay iyong mga substandard Christmas lights. Dinudurog po siya rito, sinisira dahil hindi po ito safe sa ating mga bahay.

Kailangan tingnan po ang tamang sticker at dumaan sa tamang proseso para alam nating safe ang mga ito para sa ating mga bahay.

Ito po, iyong mga nakita nating substandard, walang tamang ICC sticker at kung makikita po ninyo, talagang marupok po ito at hindi talaga tamang gamitin para sa ating mga bahay

Q: Sir sa policy lang, paulit-ulit po kasi iyong problemang ito. Even if every year po ini-inspect po natin. From the policy side, ano po ang puwede nating gawin?

 A: From the policy side, pinag-uusapan namin ni Undersecretary Dimagiba, baka kailangang itaas ang penalties sa mga retailers na nagbebenta.

Last year, nag-check din tayo ng Christmas lights. This has to be a partnership between the public and government.

It won’t fully work kung panay confiscating lang ng DTI. Kailangan ang mamimili maging mapanuri rin sa binibili, tsini-check ang kanilang binibili kung akma sa kanilang mga bahay.

Q:  May proposal po ba kung gaano kataas ang penalties?

A: We’re discussing it now.  In fact, magkakaroon ng amendments sa Consumer Protection Law next year.


Sen. Bam Lauds Outstanding Youth Groups in TAYO Awards Finals

Senator Bam Aquino lauds the twenty youth organizations that made it to the national finals of the 12th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) Awards for their untiring efforts to address problems in their respective communities.

The National Capital Region (NCR) will be represented by Phi Lambda Delta Sorority, Children Museum and Library Inc. Junior Council Alumni Association, UP Circuit, Kanlungan Pilipinas Movement Inc., and UP Business Administration Student Council.

From Luzon, Youth for Environment in School Organization, LCNHS-Ransohan Ext, Red Cross Youth and Junior Rescue Team, CITE Youth Volunteer Group, Katipunan ng mga Kabataang Santiagueno, and Indigenous Youth Servant Leaders Association of the Philippines-Isabela made it to the national stage.

Kwaderno, Order of Asclepius, Rapid, Inc., University of San Agustin Little Theater and Youth for a Livable Cebu emerged as winners in the Visayas area finals held in Iloilo City last Nov. 9-10.

Finally, Move this World-Pilipinas Inc, ACCESS PYLP Alumni Association Inc.-ZAMBASULTA Chapter, Hearts and Brains Youth Volunteers, New Breed Special Force, and Rebirth Outdoor Trekkers and Adventurers Philippines Incorporated clinched the five spots for Mindanao after the area finals held in Cagayan de Oro.

“We laud these youth organizations for their untiring efforts and perseverance to find new solutions to solve age-old problems in their respective communities,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth and TAYO Awards co-founder.

“These TAYO national finalists have taken the initiative and went out of their way to help in the best way they can,” the senator added.

The 20 national finalists were determined after a grueling week of deliberation by a select panel of judges, led by NYC Commissioners Dingdong Dantes, Perci Cendaña, Earl Saavedra and Jose Rafael Cruz, and representatives from the TAYO Alumni, media and corporate sponsors.

“While we can only pick five groups each from NCR, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, all the participants are already winners in their own right for effecting change in their respective communities through different programs and projects,” Aquino said.

The judging that will determine this year’s winners is tentatively scheduled on December 8-9, at the Senate Building in Pasay City.

The annual search for Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) is the country’s premier recognition program for youth organizations.

Since its inception in 2002, the TAYO Awards Foundation has successfully gained credibility as an institution that recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations to the country.

The annual TAYO Awards is organized by the TAYO Awards Foundation, Inc., the National Youth Commission, Coca-Cola Foundation and the Office of Senator Bam Aquino.

Youth Groups Converge to Create DRR National Network

Senator Bam Aquino aims to create a powerful network of young Filipinos who can provide dependable support during calamities and disasters and beef up the country’s disaster risk reduction (DRR) management program.

Aquino made this pronouncement after the successful staging of a two-day consultation and design thinking workshop, dubbed as “RESCYouth: Responsive, Empowered and Service-Centric Youth,” held at the RAFI Kool Adventure Camp in Balamban, Cebu.

Coming from different parts of the country, participants who attended the event are involved in the different facets of DRR, such as disaster preparation, rescue, relief and rehabilitation.

Others are volunteer firefighters, first responders and peacekeepers in their respective localities, like the Rescue Assistance Peacekeeping Intelligence Detail (RAPID) of Cebu City and the Ormoc City-based Hayag Youth Organization.

RAPID has vast experience in relief and rescue operation. They were one of the first responders in Tacloban City after the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda.  They also helped rescue passengers of a passenger vessel that collided with a cargo ship in Cebu last year.

Hayag, for its part, has been teaching swimming, disaster preparedness, first aid and open water safety training to youth.  They have successfully taught their members when no one among them had a major accident when Typhoon Yalanda hit Ormoc City last year.

“We can make this network a powerful network of young Filipinos who can make a difference,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Youth.

“May disaster man o wala, naririyan tayo para magtulungan at magsama-sama upang matalo natin iyong pinakamamalaking problema sa ating bayan,” he added.

After calamities and disasters, Aquino hopes the network could address other problems hounding the society, such as hunger, lack of education and poverty.

During the event, about 100 youth participants were able to formulate ways and programs that can help improve the country’s present DRR management schemes.

“We expect participants to help this program expand to their respective organizations and communities so many people will benefit from it,” Aquino said.

Participants also committed to closely coordinate with other organizations to expand their network and widen their knowledge about DRR management.

“We will have these organizations as our focal point of support during disasters,” Aquino said.

During the workshop, several personalities shared their experiences and knowledge in DRR management, including Mayor Leonardo “Sandy” Javier of Javier, Leyte, Gawad Kalinga’s Mark Lawrence Cruz and Mario Urrutia III of Reporter’s Notebook.

GMA-7’s resident meteorologist Nathaniel Cruz, Hapinoy Executive Director TJ Agulto and Voltaire Tupaz of Rappler also imparted their knowledge to the participants.

First Negosyo Center Launched in Cagayan de Oro

It’s all systems go for the Go Negosyo Act with the launching of the country’s first-ever Negosyo Center today (Thursday) in Cagayan de Oro City.

“The opening of the first Negosyo Center in the country eases the doing of business in the city, as it will help fast-track government processes in putting up a business,” said Senator Bam Aquino, author of Republic Act 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act.

“The Negosyo Center will boost the development of micro, small and medium enterprises, creating jobs and livelihood in the community,” the senator added.

Aquino said the Cagayan de Oro Negosyo Center will be the first of many, as RA 10644 mandates the creation of such in all provinces, cities, and municipalities in the country.

“We are closely working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to establish more Negosyo Centers all over the country,” Aquino said.

Aquino said Negosyo Centers will provide a unified and simplified business registration process, making it easier for entrepreneurs to register and start up their businesses, as well as gain access to sources of financing.

“By making business registration simpler and more efficient, we hope to encourage more Filipinos to start their own small businesses to stimulate the local economy,” Aquino added.

In addition, the Negosyo Centers will provide courses and development programs, training, advice on business conceptualization and feasibility, financing, management, capability building, human resources, marketing and other support services.

“We call on the businessmen and entrerpreneurs of Cagayan de Oro to engage with the Negosyo Center and give feedback on its operations so we can continuously improve its services to the public, as we replicate it nationwide,” Aquino added.

The DTI provincial office at the ground floor of Antolin Building in Cagayan de Oro City will house the first Negosyo Center in the country.

Aquino will attend the launch together with invited local officials, Cagayan de Oro City Vice Mayor Caesar Ian Acenas, Misamis Oriental 1stDistrict Rep. Peter Unabia and Governor Vicente Emano.

Also attending the event are DTI undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya, DTI Misamis Oriental provincial director Eliza Pabillore, assistant director Jerry Clavecillas of the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprises Development and assistant regional director Linda Boniao of DTI Region 10.

The DTI will also sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with several industry partners to provide technology enablement and coaching sessions for MSMEs.

Sen. Bam Lauds Government’s Efforts to Thresh out Uber Issue

Senator Bam Aquino has lauded the joint efforts of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Uber operators to thresh out regulation issues and work for the welfare of the commuting public.

“As I always say, if we work together, we can do things that will alleviate the plight of the public, especially the commuters,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

Aquino also welcomed the DOTC’s move to reach out to uber operators, saying the government must support innovation and new technology that will beef up its current programs.

“Instead of curtailing them, the government should welcome alternative and new ideas from the private sector as they can help reinforce existing initiative to solve traffic woes,” the senator said.

Earlier, the DOTC, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board and uber operators discussed ways to iron out issues regarding existing franchising rules that hamper the latter’s operation.

“We need to support innovative start-up ideas in solving our age-old problems such as the safety and order of our commuting public,” Aquino added.

During the meeting, the LTFRB proposed several moves that will update applicable rules in order to accommodate uber vehicles.

Uber operators, for their part, will work on improving their safety measures, passenger insurance and safety inspection to ensure roadworthiness of their vehicles.

Uber is a high-tech transportation network that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of private vehicles for hire and car-pooling services. The company arranges pickups wherein cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app and within 10 minutes the vehicle would arrive

The uber system helps alleviate the monstrous traffic problems in California, especially through car-pooling.

“The government needs all the help it can get, especially from the private sector, as it continues to find ways to improve the country’s mass transport system and solve the perennial traffic problem,” the senator said.

FDA Circular to Boost Small Food and Cosmetics Businesses– Sen. Bam

The release of Food and Drugs Administration’s simplified rules and regulations will make it easier for cosmetics micro enterprises to legitimize their status and enter the formal economy, according to Senator Bam Aquino.

“Micro entrepreneurs are having a difficult time expanding because they have no appropriate FDA approval that will vouch for the safety of their products,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

With the release of FDA Circular No. 2014-024, the senator said small businesses can now enter the formal market, giving them a better chance of expanding their business.

The FDA circular makes it simpler and easier for micro enterprises to apply for license to operate (LTO) and market authorization for their products, in accordance in with the recently passed Republic Act 10644 or the Go Negosyo Act.

“With the new and simplified process of FDA registration, our small businesses will be able to expand and grow,” Aquino said.

The Go Negosyo Act mandates the creation of Negosyo Centers, under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in each city and municipality around the country that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to register and start up their businesses, as well as gain access to sources of financing.

In addition, the Negosyo Centers will provide courses and development programs, training, advice on business conceptualization and feasibility, financing, management, capability building, human resources, marketing and other support services.

The FDA circular said the process of application and approval are made simple and compatible with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units,

In addition, the circular will be consistent with the objectives of the Go Negosyo Act, Magna Carta for MSMEs and the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2002.

The circular will apply to all micro enterprises engaged in the manufacture and distribution-wholesale of cosmetic products such as fragrance and toiler or bath soap as well as laundry and dishwashing soap bars, and other related products.

Micro enterprises involved in the manufacturing of processed food products are also covered by the circular.

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