Inclusive Growth

Bam Pushes for Work for Rural Poor

The heads or single adult members of poor families living in rural areas will be given temporary employment, once the bill filed by Sen. Bam Aquino is enacted into law.

“Considering that almost 80 percent of Filipinos living in poverty reside in our rural areas, we are in urgent need of measures to combat poverty and unemployment beyond our cities and urban hubs in the short term and long term,” Sen. Bam said of his Senate Bill No. 2903 or the Rural Employment Act of 2015.

 “As such, we need to take a look at our rural communities and provide opportunities to those along the countryside and within our islands, beginning with our less fortunate countrymen,” added the senator, who worked with poor communities before he ran for the Senate.

According to Sen. Bam, the bill, if passed, aims to provide heads or single adult members of poor families in rural areas fair wages for temporary unskilled work for a minimum of 45 days but not more than 90 days in every calendar year.

 It mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development, in coordination with local government units, to hire unemployed Filipinos to maintain, build and rehabilitate shared, public facilities and livelihood assets within their communities.

This way, Sen. Bam said the bill addresses the issue of unemployment in rural areas and involves our less fortunate citizen in nation building at the same time. 

“Let us bring opportunities, wealth and capacity to the Philippine islands, especially in the countryside. Let every Filipino reap the fruits of our positive progress and development,” added the senator, a world-renowned social entrepreneur.

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.


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 Refiles Vetoed Magna Carta of the Poor Bill

As the Philippines grows, no Filipino should be left behind.
Senator Bam Aquino emphasized this as he refiled Senate Bill No. 2370 or the Magna Carta of the Poor Act, which was vetoed by Malacanang last Congress for being ‘unrealistic.’
This time, Aquino expressed confidence that his version of the bill will be signed into law, saying it went through the necessary revisions and consultations with stakeholders before it was refiled.
“The bill is now fine-tuned to make the country’s strong economic growth felt by all of one hundred million Filipinos,” said Aquino, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.
In his explanatory note, Aquino said the country’s economic performance in recent years has been impressive and unprecedented. 
“Our 7.2% GDP growth in 2013 was the highest in the ASEAN earning the country improved investment grade ratings,” the senator said.
However, Aquino said the country still faces many challenges as millions of Filipinos are jobless and a fifth of the populace remains poor.
“The daunting task for the State is how to capitalize on its outstanding growth, the critically acclaimed reform efforts and the renewed global confidence, in order to make growth more inclusive and felt by all of the one hundred million Filipinos,” the senator said.
Aquino’s measure seeks to ensure the protection and promotion of five basic rights of every Filipino: the right to food, employment, education, shelter and basic health care.
“It supports the creation of a just and dynamic environment where prosperity is shared through the provision of adequate social services, enabling a rising standard of living and improved quality of life for everyone,” the senator explained.
Under the bill, concerned government agencies are mandated to establish a system that will provide opportunities for the full enjoyment of the five basic rights, which are essential requirements towards poverty alleviation.
The Departments of Social Welfare and Agriculture will focus on the right to adequate food while the Department of Labor will ensure that the poor’s right to decent work is assured.
The Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will promote quality education while housing will be the responsibility of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
The Department of Health, for its part, will assure that the poor’s right to highest attainable standard of mental and physical health is assured.

Bicam Approves Go Negosyo Act, Awaits PNoy’s OK

Go, go, go!

The Go Negosyo Act is now closer to becoming a law after it hurdled the bicameral conference committee.

Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and his House counterpart, Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar, have adopted the Senate version of the Go Negosyo Act authored by Aquino.

On the last day of session, the Senate has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the Go Negosyo Act. It will be transmitted to Malacanang for President Aquino’s approval.

 “No amount of words will get the people’s trust back in the Senate,” Aquino said.

“If our countrymen would see that we have been working for them despite the scandals, maybe at some point, we would be able to gain their trust again.”

 “With the imminent passage of the Go Negosyo Act into law, small businessmen – micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are given a much needed boost that will lead to job creation in different parts of the country,” Aquino said.

 Aquino stressed the importance of the Go Negosyo Act, saying 66 percent of jobs in the labor force are generated by the MSME sector, which in turn comprises 99 percent of all enterprises in the Philippines.

“The Go Negosyo Act gives Filipinos – from a simple housewife to ordinary employee – a chance to establish their own business that will help sustain their everyday needs and for their families,” the senator said.

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

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

Human Resource Development Key to Inclusive Growth – Sen. Bam

The government should put premium in developing the quality of human resources, as it will help the country achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

“The best thing about the Philippines is the Filipino, so it’s high time we invest in the further development of our people,” said Senator Bam Aquino, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, as he echoed an earlier position by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte.

Aquino also encouraged schools to help in the development of human resources by providing training and other capacity building measures to arm students with additional skills when they turn professional in the future.

“Aside from this, we should provide added training to our seasoned workers so they will not be left behind in these modern times,” the senator added.

Aquino stressed that strengthening human resources development will also help create more jobs in the country, particularly in areas of agriculture, tourism, infrastructure development, semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, and business process outsourcing (BPOs).

“With jobs available for more Filipinos, the unemployment rate and poverty incidence in the country will go down,” Aquino said. Aquino added that the human resources development is crucial especially with the 2015 ASEAN Integration fast approaching.

“We need to develop our human resources now so we can be ahead of the competition for the lion’s share of the market composed of 600 million people,” Aquino stressed.

With capacity building is one of the areas of cooperation identified in the 2015 ASEAN integration, Aquino said investing in human resources would empower the country to face the challenges of integration.


Photo source:

Senate, House Committees on Trade Seal Cooperation

The chairmen of the Senate and House Committees on Trade and Commerce have agreed to synchronize their respective legislative agenda, to hasten the passage of important measures that will help boost the economy.

In a meeting, Senator Bam Aquino and Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar agreed to pursue the same direction and fast-track the approval of measures that will help create jobs; boost micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and strengthen the government’s push for inclusive growth.

This marks the first time in the history of the two committees that their chairmen have agreed to harmonize their respective legislative agenda to speed up the passage of crucial bills into law.

“It is important for the two committees to pursue the same direction so that we can hasten the passage of bills that will support the MSME sector and open job opportunities,” Sen. Aquino said.

If these crucial bills will be enacted into law, the senator said it will be easier for the government to pursue its inclusive growth advocacy and make the country’s economic growth felt by every Filipino.

The two lawmakers forged the alliance after both saw the need for legislative measures to boost the economy and create additional jobs.

However, they both expressed concern that these bills will not gain ground and gather dust at the committee level.

“Now that the House and Senate have one legislative agenda in terms of trade and commerce, these important bills have a strong chance to be passed into law at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said.

Among the measures that will be prioritized by the two committees are the Go Negosyo Bill, the Fair Competition Bill, the Coastwise Trade Bill, the Exact Change Bill, and the Lemon Law Bill.

The two committees are also planning to pursue amendments in the Consumer Act and Price Act, where it was proposed that construction materials be put under price control during calamities.

The two lawmakers are also planning to conduct a joint oversight committee hearing regarding the challenges of financing small businesses.

Aquino and Villar both have extensive background in business before joining politics. Sen. Aquino is a multi-award-winning social entrepreneur, while Rep. Villar is the son of former senator Manny Villar and present senator Cynthia Villar, who are known as entrepreneurs.

First 100 Days: Sen. Bam Champions Inclusive Growth, Reforms

In his first 100 days in office, Sen. Bam Aquino has proven himself to be a champion of inclusive growth and reform through his bills and other initiatives.

Despite being the youngest senator in the 16th Congress, Aquino has been given the task of leading the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, and the Committee on Youth, owing to his vast experience as a globally awarded social entrepreneur and youth leader.

Inclusive growth push

As part of his commitment to push for inclusive growth, Sen. Aquino hit the ground running by filing a slew of priority measures that aim to empower the poor through jobs, livelihood, and access to market and opportunities.

Among them are the Social Value Bill, the Social Enterprise Bill, the Youth Entrepreneurship Bill, the Go Negosyo Bill, the Microfinance Development Institutions Bill, the Fair Competition Bill, and the “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” Bill.

Aquino believes that these bills, once approved, will help solve poverty by generating more jobs and creating more livelihood opportunities through the promotion of micro, small, and medium-scale businesses.

“For me, inclusive growth needs to go through business. There is no way that we can achieve inclusive growth without engaging our countrymen in jobs or in enterprise building,” the entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker said.

“Para po sa akin, ‘yan ang isang pinakamalinaw na kailangang tahaking daan. Hindi po natin makukuha ang inclusive growth o malawakang kaunlaran kung hindi tayo tutulong sa mga kababayan natin na magnegosyo o magkatrabaho.”

Aquino also co-convened an Inter-Sectoral Committee on Business Empowerment (ISCBE), together with the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Landbank, and private sector representatives such as Gawad Kalinga and CARD-MRI. The ISCBE meets regularly to promote greater convergence around government’s inclusive growth agenda and to develop synergistic solutions to unemployment and poverty.

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Aquino also brought together key government agencies and members of the private sector and the academe to push for ease of doing business and to assess the country’s readiness for the ASEAN integration in 2015.

Reforms in governance, youth empowerment

The young lawmaker was also the first legislator to suspend his own Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). He also pushed for its abolition when the so-called P10-billion pork barrel scam was uncovered.

In line with his call to abolish the PDAF, Aquino filed the People’s Fund Bill that will give the people greater control over public funds. Through this measure, taxpayers will be given greater control over where public funds should be allocated.

Sen. Aquino has also filed Senate Bill No. 1090, or the Liga ng Bayaning Kabataan Bill, which seeks to overhaul the current Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) to instill among Filipino youth the true spirit of volunteerism and “save them from the clutches of partisan politics.”

The young senator also convened stakeholders and groups pushing for SK reforms and anti-discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, to further empower these communities and give them a voice.

Aquino expressed confidence that some of his priority measures will be enacted into law, particularly his inclusive growth bills, to help the government in addressing the high unemployment and poverty incidences in the country.

“At the end of the day, if we were able to solve the problem of inclusive growth, we’ll be one step closer to the Philippines that we would want for ourselves,” Aquino said.

Convergence Needed for Inclusive Growth — Sen. Bam Aquino

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.

Scroll to top