Chairperson’s Message – FSSI Anniversary Book
Mr. Martin Lasaga III
Last September, we formally culminated the simple but meaningful celebration of our 25th anniversary year with the publishing of our new book titled “FSSI: 25 Years of Growing Community Enterprises,” which we are delighted to share with you here. The book recounts the experience of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), endowed with a debt-for-development swap, and one of the very first institutions in the country to have been established as a result of a unique cooperation between the civil society organizations (CSOs) and governments in two countries.
FSSI’s beginnings can be traced back to the collaboration of Philippine and Swiss CSOs in the early 1990s, bannering the petition that sustained development cannot happen while countries, like the Philippines, suffer under heavy debt. This vigorous and sustained campaign led to a bilateral agreement signed in August of 1995 wherein Switzerland canceled the Philippines’ outstanding export credit debts amounting to 910 million pesos. For which, the Philippines put up a fund, equivalent to half of the original debt to assist in the development of sustainable livelihood of poor and marginalized groups. The fund was channeled to a Foundation created to manage it, the FSSI, led by its membership of national CSO networks.
In our anniversary book, we surveyed the past 25 years – looked at our beginnings, our evolution, challenges, and lessons learned. Our social investments and deliberate efforts to remain relevant through the years have born fruits. Through promoting the triple bottom line (3BL) approach of people, planet, and profit among social enterprises, we have been able to make significant contributions to improve the livelihood of marginalized communities. Since 1995, we have provided financial and capacity building support to over 240 social enterprises (SEs). We have also grown the endowment entrusted to us to twice its original nominal value, enabling us to continue reaching out to more partners that could benefit from our projects and services. These successes, among others, were featured in the book as we highlighted the stories of 25 of our partner SEs.
On behalf of FSSI, I would like to thank the people who have helped make this book possible. Our heartfelt appreciation to Ms. Aurora “Rory” Tolentino, founding Chairperson of FSSI and Mr. Eugene Gonzales, its founding Executive Director, for lending their time in sharing their recollections and hopes as FSSI’s most crucial founders. We also thank our SE partners, especially Greentropics for allowing us to share their stories of community-driven development – a glimpse of our organization’s raison d’etre, and why we continue to do what we do. Our appreciation as well to Prof. Carmel Abao who penned the book and provided her perspective as a development and political analyst in telling the story of FSSI’s roots and continued relevance.
As we near the two-year mark for the COVID-19 crisis, we hope that this book will give an insight to our strong commitment to our mission, which has allowed us to continue to adapt and thrive as model for creative debt relief, particularly in light of the country’s growing debt as a response to the pandemic.
The book can be easily accessed through this website, please feel free to share it with your friends and partners. We hope that this would be a worthy read and an inspiration to us all to re-energize as we continue empowering communities through social entrepreneurship.