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Happy new year, everyone!


The start of any year offers us a chance to look back at what we have done in the past year, and to plan for, and look forward to, a fresh start. For FSSI, we are marking the beginning of our Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024.



In this new medium term plan, we are shifting our focus from geographic- to commodity-based value chains so that we will not be limited only to priority areas, but will instead optimize opportunities from various sectors. Based on their potential for growth and improved outcome, and the presence and involvement of FSSI’s partner social enterprises, members and groups already working on the value chain, we have decided to focus on organic vegetables, cacao, bamboo, and renewable energy. While focusing on these four, we will remain responsive to proposed projects in other value chains.


Our new strategic plan also calls for more initiative in exploring the use of equity investments, in addition to loans, to support selected social enterprises, both those in the start-up and in the growth stages.


As we act on our strategic plans, we recognize the value of multi-sectoral partnerships. Related to this, one of the articles in this newsletter summarizes the lessons of Grow Asia in developing inclusive business in agriculture, such as the importance of building effective working groups which have a good mix of stakeholders (farmers’ groups and co-ops, agri-business, NGOs, government and others). There are also updates on programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that aim to support farmers, fishers and agri-entrepreneurs, and especially the youth. We are also sharing here some information on the latest Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI) for the Philippines.


This index looks at the status of the civil society sector based on seven dimensions: legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, sectoral infrastructure, and public image.


Rounding up this issue of our newsletter, we also have articles on the relief assistance for Mindanao earthquake victims, which was undertaken by the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) and Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Inc. (KUFI), with support from FSSI, and on recent FSSI institutional events. At the start of the year, we usually greet each other “Manigong bagong taon!” which is commonly translated to “Prosperous new year!” Another translation of “manigo” is to be able to attain what one hopes for, which is very appropriate for us now with our new strategic plan.


So, here’s wishing all of us ‘Manigong bagong taon!’


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FSSI updates its logo as its celebrates its 25th anniversary this 2020

Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024


The Board of Trustees has approved FSSI’s new vision, mission, core values, priority value chains, and strategic goals and objectives for 2020 to 2024. Learning from the lessons of our strategic plan for 2017 to 2019, we are now shifting our focus from geographic- to commodity-based value chains. With the new strategy, value chain development will not be limited only to priority areas but will instead optimize opportunities from various sectors.



Four commodities were chosen based on their potential for growth, improved outcome, presence and involvement of FSSI’s SE partners and members or groups already working on the value chain that we can tap or work with: organic vegetables, cacao, bamboo, and renewable energy. 


With the reassessment of our value chain focus, we also re-evaluated and simplified our vision and mission for brevity and clarity. Our core values were narrowed down to four from six but with the essential characteristics of the former core values still maintained.



VISION: Empowered communities upholding social justice, respecting integrity of creation, and realizing fullness of life


MISSION: To provide social investments to enterprises through the triple bottom line (3BL) strategy



CORE VALUES:


STEWARDSHIP FSSI is committed to exercise responsible management over the resources entrusted to us, taking into full account the interests of society, future generations, and all species. We also promote biodiversity conservation and the protection of the environment.  Sustainability will always guide us in the work that we do.


INCLUSIVITY We recognize the dignity and human rights of all persons regardless of sex, gender,   culture, faith, ethnicity, age, social status or other attributes. FSSI believes in providing equitable treatment and opportunities to all in their access to and control over resources, decision-making and the benefits of development.  FSSI endeavors to facilitate access particularly for the marginalized to increase their capacities and fulfil their potential.


GOOD GOVERNANCE We demand, in all our dealings and in society, the practice of transparency, participation, integrity, and accountability. We strive to create an enabling environment for sustainable human development.


EXCELLENCE We set and demonstrate the highest standards in the performance of our duties and ensure continuing relevance, effectiveness and efficiency. FSSI commits to consistently seek out new and improved ways of partnering with and serving social enterprises and Philippine society.



Project Management Workshop 2020


With almost all of the units with full staff complement, FSSI in January 2020 held a project management workshop to review and enhance existing work processes. The workshop was facilitated by the Center for Humanitarian Learning and Innovation (CHLI) and identified areas for improvement for work efficiency.



Here are some of the suggestions discussed during the workshop:


1. Computerized project development and monitoring systems

2. Online banking and account with a different bank for faster and timely transactions with partner SEs

3. Automated document tracking system including all HR forms

4. Database for institutional knowledge

5. Creation of an occupational health and safety plan

6. Digitization of all finance documents for data security



While all of the resulting discussions were deemed important, FSSI staff evaluated those that need to be prioritized and programmed; urgent actions and persons responsible were identified. As an offshoot of the workshop, the Development Services, Knowledge Management, Advocacy and Communications (KMAC), and the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) units held another working session where they reviewed and established common understanding on processes in the delivery of FSSI’s development services and drafted standard work operating procedures.

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(Photo by the Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Credit Policy Council)

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched two new loan programs aimed at addressing the needs of small farmers and fisherfolk and encouraging the youth to go into agriculture.



The Kapital Access for Young Agripreneurs (KAYA) Program will finance capital requirements of start-up or existing agri-based projects of young entrepreneurs and agri-fishery graduates who are 18-30 years old. KAYA offers up to P500,000 loan per borrower, payable in not more than five years at 0% interest, with a management fee of not more than 3.5%.



The Agri-Negosyo Program, meanwhile, will finance income-generating agri-fishery activities and working capital and/or fixed asset acquisition requirements of individuals/sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, and cooperatives whose owners or members are marginal or small farmers and fisherfolk. Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the program will help individuals or enterprises that want to scale up their business. 



Under the program’s Micro Agri-Negosyo Loan facility, borrowers may loan up to P300,000 payable up to five years and channelled through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council’s lending conduits.  In the Small Agri-Negosyo Loan facility, borrowers can avail of loan amounting to P300,000 up to P15 million payable depending on the loan purpose and channelled through government financial institutions.



The two programs each have an allocation of Php 1 billion. For details on how to avail of loans, click here.  (Source: DA-ACPC)

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Overall CSO Sustainability Index for the Philippines

The Philippine civil society sector continues to boast of highest level of sustainability in the Asian region compared with eight other counties covered in the 2018 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index.

The Philippine CSO sector is strongest in terms of sectoral infrastructure and is weakest in terms of financial viability. While the sustainability score did not change notably in 2018, scores for the legal environment, advocacy, and public image dimensions all deteriorated.



The study looked at seven (7) dimensions to determine the sustainability of the civil society sector: Legal Environment, Organizational Capacity, Financial Viability, Advocacy, Service Provision, Sectoral Infrastructure and Public Image. A panel of experts working with CSOs were convened to rate the sustainability of the sector in these 7 dimensions, using a rating scale of 1-3 for ‘Sustainability Enhanced’, 3.1 to 5 for ‘Sustainability Evolving’ and 5.1 to 7 for ‘Sustainability Impeded.’  The CSO Sustainability Index methodology relies on CSO practitioners and researchers, who in each country form an expert panel to assess and rate these dimensions of CSO sustainability during the year. The Philippines’ rating for 2018 is 3.5, a further decline from its 2017 score of 3.4, and 3.3 from 2014 to 2016.



The CSO Sustainability Index methodology was developed by the USAID and reports on the strength and overall viability of CSO sectors in more than 70 countries. In the Philippines, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) has been commissioned since 2014 to produce the report.



You can view the summary here and download the full report here.

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The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), in partnership with the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) and Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Inc. (KUFI), has delivered relief assistance to 1,500 earthquake stricken-families in the municipality of Makilala in North Cotabato.


In October 2019, a series of strong earthquakes struck the province of Cotabato and its vicinity. It started with a magnitude 6.3 quake on October 16, followed by a magnitude 6.6 quake on October 29, compounding the damage. A magnitude 6.5 tremor struck two days later. Twenty-three (23) people were reported killed while over 38,000 homes were destroyed, displacing thousands of families.


To support the relief efforts, FSSI donated Php 200,000 in November 2019 through its member MINCODE, which facilitated coordination among civil society organizations in Mindanao responding to the earthquake survivors. MINCODE worked with its member KUFI, a social development organization which has been working in Makilala in partnership with indigenous peoples communities and local governance units.


FSSI’s financial assistance enabled MINCODE and KUFI to provide hygiene kits for 1,500 families in six barangays in Makilala: Barangays Buhay, Buenavida, Batasan, Biangan (commonly referred as 4Bs), Malasila, and Old Bulatukan. The relief provided was based on the needs expressed by the affected families and the local Disaster Risk Reduction Office.


“FSSI stands ready to support the people of Mindanao, especially during emergency situations. But a lot more needs to be done to help the survivors of the earthquakes fully recover from the disaster. It would entail concerted effort from the government, the business sector and civil society groups in the region like MINCODE and KUFI,” said FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet.


A total of 569 households (32.66%) in the 4Bs are IPs living at the foot of Mt. Apo, with farms inside their ancestral domain. The quakes rendered the majority of their homes destroyed and unsafe, which forced them to stay at temporary shelters and evacuation sites. Landslides resulting from the tremors also devastated their farms and disrupted their livelihood.


The local government of Makilala has allowed the return of residents whose houses are not in identified high-risk zones. Temporary learning spaces have also been constructed in schools. However, KUFI’s Executive Director Alma dela Paz shared, many families continue to live in evacuation camps or makeshift tents awaiting for government support to rebuild their homes, farms, and lives.



Photos and data are from the narrative report submitted by MINCODE Executive Director Ms. Raizsa Mae Anayatin and Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Inc. to FSSI. For questions or concerns, or donations to support the cause, please get in touch with us at fssi@fssi.com.ph or (+632) 8928 8671.

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