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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented health, economic, and social crisis affecting the most vulnerable sectors. Social enterprises will be critical to our COVID-19 response and recovery. 

Social enterprises, like every other form of business, have been affected and are among the worst hit by the pandemic, and often with people who need the most support. But despite not having systemic government assistance, many social enterprises have survived and adopted measures to respond and pursue innovations to help local communities adapt and recover.  

Social enterprises have proven to be effective models in creating employment and scalable local productivity, and building the capacities of poor communities in managing their resources. They not only try to fill gaps and serve needs, but also enable local communities to become agents of their own change.   

With the COVID-19 crisis, social enterprises have had to grapple with recovery even as they continue to pursue their social mission. When the pandemic threw markets into disarray, social enterprises stepped in as partners to support communities and local governments and spearheaded efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic – from the delivery of essential services to providing humanitarian relief.   

The disruption caused by the pandemic has highlighted the need to strengthen and support social enterprises and create an enabling environment for them to prosper. It is time to bring them from the sidelines to the front lines in terms of decision and policy-making and allocation of resources. Social enterprises will create jobs, come up with solutions to global challenges, and accelerate sustainable business practices.   

Towards building back fairer, the PRESENT Coalition has embarked on various platforms to assist social enterprises recover in pursuit of food security, health and decent work for all, women’s economic empowerment and resilient and sustainable communities.  Social enterprises need an enabling environment and support programs that the government can and should provide, as embodied in the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Bill.  

The PRESENT Bill primarily aims to acknowledge and support social enterprises for their role in poverty reduction. It includes incentives and a governing body that will create an enabling environment for them to thrive and lift more people out of poverty.  

Support the call to pass the PRESENT Bill now. Sign the petition here 

I. What are Social Enterprises? 
 
A social enterprise or SE refers to primarily a social mission-driven wealth-creating organization, however organized, including non-stock or non-profit non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), foundations, associations, cooperatives, sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations, established to improve societal well-being as well as ecological sustainability. A social enterprise for purposes of the proposed PRESENT Act shall also mean a Social Enterprise with Marginalized Sectors as Primary Stakeholders (SEMPS).  

II. Key Features of the PRESENT Bill 
 
1. Recognition of Social Enterprises (SEMPS) 

SEMPS are social enterprises that explicitly declare and pursue poverty reduction or improving the quality of life of specific segments of marginalized sectors as a principal objective. A SEMPS engages and invests in the poor to become effective workers, suppliers, clients, and/or owners, and ensures that a substantive part of the wealth created by the enterprise is distributed to them. In addition to reinvesting its surplus or profits back towards the fulfillment of its social mission in a sustainable way, a SEMPS also uses its surplus or profits and mobilizes other resources to assist the poor to become partners in SE or value chain management/ governance and to become partners in community, sectoral and societal transformation. 

 2. National PRESENT Program: strategic economic sub-sectors as units of planning  
The planning framework of the PRESENT Program and its planning process shall ensure that the marginalized sectors are engaged as primary stakeholders. It shall add value and complement ecosystem-based, area-based, community-based and other tools and processes in local economic development by promoting and utilizing the economic subsector as a strategic unit of analysis and planning SE development interventions.  
 
The PRESENT Program shall identify and develop key SEMPS and resource institutions as partners in strategic economic subsectors that have the potential for growth and where large numbers of the poor are concentrated.  SEMPs shall be developed as vehicles to ensure that the marginalized sectors benefit the most from sustainable subsector development. 

3. Qualification of SEMPS  

To qualify for the benefits and incentives provided for in this Act, the SE shall: 

  • Provide or facilitate the provision of a combination of transactional and/or transformational services to improve the position and benefits derived by the poor from the SE and the value chain or economic subsector where the SE is located; 
  • Invest a substantive part of its surplus, profits or mobilize other resources to assist the poor to become partners in SE or value chain management/governance and/or to become partners in community, sectoral and societal transformation 
  • Make a proactive contribution to resolving social and environmental problems and generate profit or surplus with due regard to social and environmental costs 
  • Be engaged in economic activity within the sectors of agriculture and fisheries, industry and services which, for purposes of this Act, shall refer to an activity in any of the economic subsectors 
  • Ensure that a substantive part of the wealth created by the enterprise is distributed to the poor in the form of services, dividends and other forms of benefits, and payments and incentives for products or services rendered consistent with the principles of fair trade 
  • Be duly registered with the appropriate agencies as provided under the Corporation Code or the Cooperative Code of the Philippines, Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act, Microfinance NGOs’ Act, and other laws 

4. SE Support Programs 

  • SE Capability Building and Sustainability Program  
  • Social Enterprise Recovery and Rehabilitation Fund for financing programs and projects supporting adaptation and resilience of social enterprises, including stimulus grants 

5. Incentives for SEs and Social Investors  

  • Special Credit Windows with non-collateralized loans  
  • Grants to qualified social enterprises and resource institutions   
  • Strengthening of the Agriculture and Fisheries Credit Policy  
  • Exemption from payment of VAT, tariff, and duties for the importation of all types of product inputs, equipment, machinery, implements, and spare parts 

 6. Appropriate government structure  

  • The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to serve as the central planning, coordinating, implementing and monitoring body of the program 
  • Creation of a Social Enterprise Development Council (SEDC) attached to DTI to carry out the policy under the Act 
  • Establishment of a National Center for Social Enterprise Development (NCSED) under the SEDC which shall 1.) Provide SEMPs with capability-training and education through the Social Enterprise Capability Building and Sustainability Program; 2.) Develop and enhance a research and development system which shall equip every SE with innovative and sustainable approaches; 3.) Manage a Social Enterprise Marketing Assistance Program (SMAP); 4.) Implement Capability Building Projects as approved by the Council  

7. A budget that supports the PRESENT Program and SE development through hybrid financing 
Hybrid financing shall refer to the combination of grants with loans and other financial instruments to support the unique nature of SEs as wealth-creating organizations that pursue social missions to improve societal well-being – in ways that are ecologically and financially sustainable.  

Help support the call to pass the PRESENT Bill now.

Sign the petition:  

https://www.change.org/passthepresentbillnow

For updates, follow the PRESENT Coalition here

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Impact enterprises solving the most urgent social and environmental challenges through market-based models are important actors in the socio-development landscape. Geared towards the development of products and services that address the fundamental problems of poverty and sustainable development, they solve social problems by challenging traditions, combining creativity with intelligence.  

In the Philippines, social enterprises serving the poor are often pioneers, facing challenges and risks referred to as the “pioneer gap.” These challenges include difficulties in the operating environment, finding resources and raising capital, and growing their business with few investors willing to finance to absorb the risks involved in pioneering new business models. As a result, many of these enterprises fail because of lack of support, not just financial but also mentorship, to enable them to make it to a later stage. Impact investing targets to bridge these gaps.   

The Pioneer Gap – Courtesy of Impact Pioneers Network

With the mission to leapfrog the impact entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Philippines, social enterprise incubator xchange has partnered with India’s Villgro. Villgro and xchange have combined decades of experience in investing in impact entrepreneurs to address gaps in the Philippine ecosystem. Villgro is India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators. xchange is an incubator in the Philippines that invests in early-stage social enterprises while providing tailored mentorship and support to help them achieve scale. Together, they designed and developed the Impact Pioneer model that would encourage collaboration with other individuals and organizations or “impact pioneers” who believe that entrepreneurship is a key tool in solving social and environmental challenges.  

In its first year, the network will focus on building resilience during the pandemic economy by providing a variety of investments including zero-interest loans and quasi-equity through a Resilience Fund, as well as six months of tailored support to build resilience and to adapt their models for a recession year. It is also expected to launch new services for enterprises and impact pioneers, while continuing to grow the network of individuals and institutions and engage the larger ecosystem.  

The network’s priority sectors are agriculture and fisheries, climate crisis, education and employment, and affordable healthcare. It will adopt a gender lens in all aspects of its operations and will actively source enterprises which impact the lives of women and girls.   

You can learn more about the Impact Pioneers Network here. Also check out this guide on angel investing by infoDev.

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The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) has signed a five-year partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to collaborate in capacity building, advocacy, and research efforts to support inclusive agricultural and rural development.   

Founded in 1966, SEARCA is a center of excellence in agricultural and rural development. It is the oldest among 26 specialist institutions in Southeast Asia. The organization has recently embarked on a five-year strategic plan that emphasizes focus on elevating the quality of life of agricultural families through sustainable livelihoods and access to modern networks and innovative markets.  

“FSSI’s five-year Strategic Plan is closely aligned with SEARCA’s in terms of our desired impact on local communities, especially the agriculture sector. We look forward to collaborating with SEARCA to support inclusive agricultural and rural development,” said FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet.   

The areas of collaboration between FSSI and SEARCA include capacity building, including training on best practices and lessons learned specific to agri-enterprise development and sustainability, sustainable finance, and access to credit; research, including participation of FSSI-supported agri-enterprises in pilot studies and technology transfer, as well as value chain specific agri-research; and advocacy, specifically on awareness raising on strategies that will build the triple bottom lines or enterprise sustainability awareness. 

Agriculture remains an important sector of the Philippine economy. However, agricultural yield and area have been on a steady decline through the years, not only in the Philippines but all over the Southeast Asian region. To help address this, governments have been adopting policies focused on business incubation and information and technology advancement.  

FSSI is set to launch its accelerator program, the Sustainable Agri Enterprise Impact Lab or SAIL.  This is closely aligned with SEARCA’s InnovEIGhts project, an agribusiness incubation program envisioned to establish and develop the agri-and rural sector through technology development and transfer. 

FSSI is a social investment organization committed to support the development of sustainable communities through social entrepreneurship. It supports enterprises with People, Planet, and Profit objectives, also known as the triple bottom lines (3BL), through financial and capacity building services. 

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Newsletter

Cautious Optimism and Perseverance in 2021  

Sixto Donato C. Macasaet

We’re now two months into 2021; how are you with your resolutions and intentions for the year?  

2020 was fraught with challenges, including the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and destructive typhoons that hit parts of the country. Yet, optimism remains. A Pulse Asia survey released in December last year revealed that 9 out of 10 Filipinos are optimistic about 2021, a sentiment shared across populations in geographic areas and socio-economic grouping. 

With significant progress in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the economy expected to regain its momentum, and programs in the pipeline to assist in the recovery, there is cautious optimism that 2021 is the year that we start to rebuild. We are hopeful – with a sense of readiness for difficulties that lie ahead. Hence, we persevere.  
 

At FSSI, we are looking forward to be part of the solutions, even as we deal with challenges that COVID-19 has brought upon us.  

We have recently joined the Impact Pioneers Network, a first-of-its-kind angel investing network in the Philippines to catalyze local capital to exclusively support impact-first enterprises with potential to grow and create social impact at scale. In its first year, the network will focus on building resilience during the pandemic economy by providing a variety of investments and tailored support for social enterprises to adapt to the recession year.  
 

We have also launched a partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to collaborate in capacity building, advocacy, and research efforts to support inclusive agricultural and rural development.   
 

As an organization built upon the collaboration of various civil society organizations and government, we believe in the importance of partnerships and working together as we navigate the road to recovery and resilience.   
 

I would also like to take this opportunity to enjoin you all to support the PRESENT Coalition’s campaign to pass the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Bill. On Friday, February 26, the coalition will be launching the PRESENT Bill Petition Campaign to raise 1 million signatures to support the bill’s enactment into law. You can support the campaign by signing the petition here: https://www.change.org/passthepresentbillnow  
 

I look forward to seeing many of you in future events. May you and your loved ones always be healthy and hopeful.

Dodo

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What's New in FSSI

BACKGROUND

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) is a social investment organization committed to support the development of sustainable communities through social entrepreneurship. Since 1995, we have  been supporting  social enterprises across the Philippines through loans and capacity building. Our organization promotes the triple bottom line (3BL): social equity, environmental protection, and economic development, also referred to as three P’s or PEOPLE, PLANET, PROFIT.  

SUMMARY OF TASKS AND QUALIFICATIONS:

FSSI is in need of interns for the organization and digitization of its library. S/he will report to the Knowledge Management, Advocacy, and Communications (KMAC) Unit.

Main Responsibilities:
  • Conduct of inventory and classification of reference materials;  
  • Assist in the cataloging, de-duplication of records, and other improvements 
  • Organize and offer library instruction for library users; and 
  • Support in the digitization of information materials, photographs, and other content 
Competencies: 
  • Completed subjects or demonstrated competence in library and information science 
  • Familiar with library classification systems and database management  
  • Working knowledge of basic computer tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and SharePoint 
  • Resourceful, detail-oriented, and proactive

PERIOD OF ASSIGNMENT

At least 300 hours between March and December 2021 

Please note that FSSI provides a daily modest stipend. Interns may choose to continue to work beyond the 300 hours in agreement with the designated supervisor.  

LOCATION

FSSI Office at 46-E Eugenio Lopez Street, near corner Samar Avenue, Quezon City  

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

  1. Proof of enrolment with inclusive dates to confirm that you will be enrolled during the intended period of assignment 
  2. Endorsement from school or instructor 
  3. Resume 

Interested applicants can email their requirements to fssi@fssi.com.ph with the subject line “FSSI Internship” 

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Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) Chaiperson Norman Joseph Jiao and Board Member and Corporate Secretary Christie Rowena “Tetay” Plantilla join the partnership launch of Investing in Women (IW), an initiative of the Australian Government, and the Macquarie Group Foundation for the Responsive Interventions Supporting (women) Entrepreneurs (RISE) Fund on November 17.

The RISE Fund is the Investing in Women’s response to the COVID-19 crisis to inject catalytic capital for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the South East Asian region. With women disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the Fund aims to offset COVID-19’s impacts on women SMEs and provide much needed liquidity in a capital-constrained market.

FSSI, along with InBestCap Ventures (InBest), takes part in the project as one of its two local impact investor partners. “We are grateful for this partnership with Investing in Women and the Macquarie Group Foundation, and the opportunity to directly create impact where it is most needed. The RISE Fund will provide more avenues to assist women SMEs. Macquarie Group Foundation’s support highlights the important role of the private sector in helping local economies build back better,” said Ms. Plantilla during the launch.

The ceremonial signing was attended by His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. Eric Yaptangco, Division Director, Manila Technology and Office Head of the Macquarie Group, with the representatives of FSSI and InBestCap Ventures.

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The imposition of community quarantine in different parts of the country magnified pre-existing gaps in our food supply chain, from production to distribution. Farmers and fisherfolks were unable to transport and sell their products due to the lockdown, resulting in food and income loss at the time of a crisis.

In this paper, INCITEGov in partnership with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI), Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia (AsiaDHRRA), Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) and Young Public Servants (YPS) propose policies that will hopefully enhance the strategies and programs for food & nutrition security and agriculture recovery vis-a-vis the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The recommendations, done in consultation with several NGOs and leaders working in the agriculture sector, focus on the family farmers, fishers, and agro-foresters, who are the backbone of the country’s food supply.

Policy brief: bit.ly/3ikJZRh

Policy paper: bit.ly/34mbc10

INCITEGov is a community of advocates and democratic leaders who firmly believe in the democratic process and the rule of law as the bedrock of our society. It develops a policy agenda that links democratic politics, good governance, and development outcomes (P-G-D framework) in crucial reform areas

The Subgroup on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture Recovery is composed of social development leaders and civil society organizations, namely, Raul Socrates Banzuela, National Coordinator, PAKISAMA; Jose Deles, Kasanyangan Center for Community Development and Microfinance Foundation, Inc.; Cristina Liamzon, Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture advocate; Sixto Donato C. Macasaet, FSSI Executive Director; Marlene Ramirez, Secretary-General of AsiaDHRRA; Omar Salvo, Peace and Equity Foundation; Luis Razon Abad, Young Public Servants; Veronica Fenix Villavicencio, INCITEGov.  Inputs were also solicited from Senen Bacani, former Department of Agriculturesecretary; Marilyn Manila, President of Mga Likha ni Inay, Inc. of Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually ReinforcingInstitutions; and Cresente Paez, President of Philippine Family Farmers Agriculture Fishery Forestry Cooperatives Federation (AgriCOOPh).

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Newsletter

For the Common Good 

Mr. Norman Joseph “Oman” Jiao


For the common good.

Twenty-five years ago, this guiding principle birthed the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI). With an endowment of P454.8 million, FSSI geared up to battle poverty by financing sustainable development projects. We could only imagine the exhilaration and the joy of that moment, the minds of enthusiastic development workers already churning out the many possibilities on how to reach out to as many of our less fortunate fellowmen as possible and help in making their lives better.

Today, FSSI’s fund balance has grown to Php 922,305,2221 and over the past 25 years, we have invested in and supported more than 230 social enterprises through loans, equity investments and grants.  Our loans and development deposits to partners now amount  P 410 million and our net equity investments in enterprises total to P 46 million.  The numbers are big, but we cannot rest on these achievements. Poverty and inequity are still on the rise, many are still struggling to make a decent living. As we pause and look back to 25 years, we also ask the question, “Have we done enough?” Being a steward of the Fund is an opportunity, putting us in a unique position to make a difference and effect change in the quality of lives of individuals, families, and communities.

In this milestone year, let us re-live that moment of exhilaration and joy 25 years ago and, with renewed enthusiasm, think of innovative ways to contribute to achieving the country’s development goals, because truly, we can do much more.

We cannot talk about development and not talk about the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected and is drastically changing our lives. As it affects our communities and our ranks, it has become our own battle to take on. We pray for wisdom to guide us through strategic actions and significant engagements to address the challenges brought forth by the pandemic. We are determined not to be deterred by it, rather, we will do our best to continue serving our communities and find ways to cope with the “new normal.” We should be able to use the Fund to continue supporting meaningful and relevant interventions for development, while ensuring that the Fund is sustained and its value maintained. As we move forward, let our core values of Stewardship, Inclusivity, Good Governance, and Excellence (SIGE) be our guide. We survived many economic, social, and political unrests and we will get through this pandemic because we believe in the resilience of the Filipino spirit.

Let us not allow this pandemic to take the joy away from celebrating our 25th founding anniversary. On this milestone year, we honor our Swiss and Filipino colleagues in the sector who, 25 years ago, vigorously campaigned for the debt agreement, and the citizens and government of Switzerland for the generous consideration. We look back with gratefulness to the management, staff and trustees who came before us and steered FSSI to where it is today. We give credit to our development workers for the work that they do and their genuine compassion for the respective communities they are assigned to. Without their hard work, we could not have accomplished as much.

To all of you, maraming salamat po.

FSSI commits to uphold its mandate and engage in significant undertakings for the common good. This is what we are here for. This is what FSSI is all about.

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For the first time in 25 years, member organizations of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) gathered virtually for its 31st General Assembly (GA) on July 28, 2020, held online through video conferencing. 

FSSI Chairperson Norman Joseph Jiao, in his report to the GA, noted that while 2019 now seems so far away and the world is now very different from what it was a year ago, reviewing and reflecting on the past year is valuable.  

The Foundation started 2019 with the implementation of its new organizational structure, which did away with the geographic area-based units and instead set up the function-based units with the creation of the Project Development and Monitoring, Partnership, and Financial Services units. FSSI also continued its delivery of development and financial services, as well as partnerships with local civil society organizations to support building community enterprises.  

2019 marked the end of FSSI’s Medium Term Development Plan for 2017-2019, and those three years had their fair share of trials and triumphs. Mr. Jiao said the plan’s implementation generated lessons which helped guide FSSI in crafting its Strategic Plan for 2020-2024. These lessons include:  


a) Cooperation among social enterprises serves as a mechanism in promoting inclusive growth; however, such cooperation needs to be focused on a specific value chain, and clear business plans have to be crafted early in the process to better facilitate the cooperation; 

b) Social enterprises need technical assistance to improve business efficiency and effectiveness and to assist them in developing their own 3BL strategy. There is a need to further develop FSS’s business development services in terms of internal capacity and the setting up of additional delivery mechanisms; and 

c) Community organizations representing marginalized sectors in many cases demonstrate a lower capacity to absorb investments. There is a need to adopt a more proactive role in ensuring the success of their enterprises through investment in the form of seed capital and in building up their readiness and capacity. 


You can read the full Chairperson’s Report here The heads of FSSI’s Investment and Finance Committee (IFC), Internal Affairs Committee (IAC), Projects Committee (PROCOM), Committee Education and Advocacy (CEA), and Good Governance Committee (GGC) also shared their key activities and accomplishments for 2019.

In 2018, it was agreed that the triple bottom lines (3BL) of People, Planet, and Profit would be the organization’s overarching advocacy. However, member organizations had varying definitions, practices and manifestations of 3BL. In 2019, FSSI set out to build consensus and facilitate discussion among members through the Statement of Commitment (SOC) to 3BL. The SOC was borne out of the results of a survey on members and FSSI’s 3BL checklist. While member organizations are bound by their own by-laws or mandate adopting specific frameworks or strategies, all have committed to support and promote FSSI’s 3BL activities.

The Assembly also expressed its gratitude to the members of Board of Trustees (BOT) and the GGC who finished their terms of office: Mr. Benedict Balderrama of the Partnership of Philippines Support Service Agencies (PHILSSA), who served in the GGC beginning August 2017; Ms. Sylvia O. Paraguya representing the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), who headed the IFC beginning in May 2018 and served in the BOT starting August 2017; and Ms. Christie Rowena Plantilla of the Federation of People’s Sustainable Development Cooperative (FPSDC), who headed CEA  beginning in May 2018 and served in the BOT starting August 2017.

Mr. Balderrama was reelected to the GGC, and Ms. Paraguya and Ms. Plantilla were also re-elected to the BOT in the ensuing elections, retaining their former positions as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively. All the BOT officers and the chairpersons of PROCOM, CEA, IAC, and IFC were also elected to their former positions.

The following are the officers and members comprising FSSI’s BOT:

Chairperson: Norman Joseph Jiao (Representing AF)

Vice Chairperson: Lauro Millan (Representing NCCP)

Corporate Secretary: Christie Rowena Plantilla (Representing FPSDC)

Treasurer: Sylvia Paraguya (Representing NATCCO)

Auditor: Betta Socorro Salera (Representing PCF)

Member: Agnes Bolanos (Representing MINCODE)

Member: Reynaldo Antonio Laguda (Representing PBSP)

View photos of the 31st GA here.

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