At the 2nd Inclusive Business Forum organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), and the Asian Social Enterprise Incubator, Inc. (ASEI) on September 16, 2013, Sen. Bam Aquino challenged government, the private sector, and civil society to work together to promote inclusive growth through Inclusive Business.
Inclusive Business refers to private enterprises whose businesses were designed to address pressing social needs. It takes poor people out of poverty by linking them to larger value chains and giving them access to markets, financing, sustainable livelihood, mentoring and support systems, and other necessary ingredients for development.
According to Markus Dietrich and Armin Bauer of the ADB, “Inclusive Business in the Philippines can be adopted to realize the government’s inclusive growth goals, such as creating more employment for the poor… and providing better services, especially in housing, health, energy and education.”
“One problem in enabling inclusive businesses would be convergence. You have agencies supporting social enterprises and inclusive business practices on their own, but we still need to see these agencies working together,” Sen. Aquino pointed out.
Aquino, a globally awarded social entrepreneur before being elected into the Senate, talked about four major pillars of enabling inclusive growth.
“First, we need to push ease of doing business. It will help not only inclusive business, but also the whole private sector.”
“Second, support for MSMEs—whether it’s through better financing, shared services, and subsidies, to a certain extent.”
“We also need to start implementing laws better,” Sen. Aquino pointed out. “We already have a lot of laws that support MSMEs, but they are not being implemented.”
Aquino also talked about two priority pieces of legislation: the Social Enterprise Bill, and another bill that he will soon file, an Inclusive Business Bill.
“I think the best way to go about legislation is for the practitioners to tell us what the sector needs,” he added.
“We’re sure that our colleagues from the Senate and from Congress will support laws supporting inclusive businesses and social enterprises, but again, the convergence needs to happen.”
The senator likewise cited that “there is a lot of willingness from the private sector to collaborate… but government has to jumpstart the collaboration.”
“It’s best if different agencies are already working with the private sector on pilot programs and learning from that experience, then we institutionalize everything a necessary piece of legislation.”
“The challenge is to get all of the players in place to begin talking to each other and working together,” the lawmaker reiterated.