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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:

Policy paper:

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).



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.


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.


Learning from Experience, Ushering a New Beginning  

Sixto Donato C. Macasaet

This month is special to FSSI. Twenty-five years ago, on August 11, 1995, a successful debt for development agreement was signed between the governments of the Philippines and Switzerland.  FSSI’s organizational documents were also signed on this day.  Less than a month later, on September 6, 1995, the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. was formally registered.  

As we quietly commemorate our silver anniversary this 2020, we also value both the trials and triumphs that have come our way.  

During a most challenging time for most of us in the country in March 2020, we received word from the Investing in Women (IW) Program that our proposal to be a local fund manager of IW had been approved. The program seeks to address the financing gap for women-owned and women-led social enterprises and will be implemented in partnership with the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) and the Philippines Business for Social Progress (PBSP). 

Last July 28, 2020, we successfully held FSSI’s annual general assembly (GA), with all of FSSI’s 18 member networks participating from various parts of Metro Manila and even from Visayas, Mindanao, and other parts of Luzon.  The online GA allowed us to get connected, even with COVID-19 forcing us to keep physical distance. 

As part of the preparation for our GA and the celebration of our 25th anniversary, FSSI organized a webinar last July 23, 2020. Former NEDA Director General and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Cielito Habito and Mr. Rico Gonzales of social enterprise incubator Xchange talked on their insights for social enterprises (SEs) navigating the pandemic. 

This year we not only commemorate our 25th anniversary. We also mark the start of our 5-year Strategic Plan for 2020 to 2024. We crafted this plan last year and set our strategic goals for four key result areas – Financial Service Delivery, Social Enterprise Development, Asset and Investment Management and Organizational Development.  We also identified four priority value chains, organic vegetables, cacao, bamboo and renewable energy. Given the pandemic, we will review and adjust our Strategic Plan in the next months.  

As we now move towards the end of the year and with our fight against COVID-19 not expected to end soon, we draw strength from our history and experience, and the certainty that the challenges shall pass. Together, we will overcome this crisis.    


What's New in FSSI


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.  


FSSI is in need of two interns who will report to the Project Development and Monitoring Unit.

Research Intern
  • Must have completed subjects or demonstrated competence in research methodology, conducting surveys, report writing and documentation
  • Will draft research instruments, administer surveys, and prepare research reports 
Creative intern
  • Must have completed subjects or demonstrated competence in graphic design, copywriting and video editing
  • Will develop marketing materials targeting a range of audiences from cooperatives to start ups, SMEs and multi sector institutional partners


Duration: August to December 2020 (est 20 weeks) 

Please note that FSSI provides a modest stipend for communication expenses.  Interns may choose to continue work beyond 20 weeks in agreement with the designated supervisors, but without stipend. They are also expected to use their own laptop.


Work from home


Candidate must be a student, enrolled in a graduate-level degree program at the time of application and during internship. Candidates that have graduated are not eligible for internship


  • Excellent organizational, time management and strong interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work flexibly and meet deadlines;
  • Attention to details and proven ability to work independently and effectively
  • Proficiency in computer software related to key tasks assigned (MS Office and graphic design or editing software such as Photoshop, InDesign, etc)


  1. Proof of enrolment with inclusive dates to confirm that you will be enrolled during the intended period of assignment.
  2. Resume

Interested applicants can email their requirements to


What's New in FSSI


The Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc. (FSSI) is looking for a consultant to conduct an IT assessment and propose IT enhancements to ensure a secure, appropriate, and reliable IT system.

FSSI is a non-government organization established in 1995. It manages an endowment fund which resulted from the successful debt swap campaign of international and local organizations to cancel the foreign debt from the Swiss government.

FSSI has promoted a “triple bottom line” (3BL) approach in supporting social enterprise development. This approach enables social enterprises to manage their economic, social, and environmental impact. FSSI supports social enterprises by providing financial and technical services that enables them to achieve their profit, people and planet bottom lines. FSSI has a range of products and services that include equities, loans, deposits, and grants, as well as business development support services.

FSSI is embarking on a new journey with its newly crafted Strategic Plan 2020 – 2024. The strategic plan has four key results areas (KRA): financial service delivery, social enterprise development, asset and investment management, and organizational development.

One of the strategic goals under the organizational development key result area is to enhance FSSI’s processes and decision making through effective and reliable MIS. One of its objectives is laying down and maintain a secure, appropriate, and reliable IT system by 2020.


The overall purpose of the consultancy work is to assess the current information technology system and propose a recommendation for system enhancement based on the requirements of FSSI’s business processes.

Scope of Work

The consultant will conduct the following:

  1. Review and update the draft MIS / IT assessments available.
  2. Develop or adopt a specific and systematic MIS assessment tool to examine various aspects of the IT system in relation to its intended goals.
  3. Perform a systematic and thorough review of the MIS system of FSSI and the IT systems used in the office which includes both hardware (computers, servers, networks, etc.), software (custom applications, cloud services, client/server OS, security, etc.), IT policies (IT use, security, disaster recovery, management of systems, etc.), and IT services (procurement, help desk, etc.).
  4. Draft a comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage system enhancement which considers the strategic goals of the MIS, the proposed IT strategy, and cost management.
  5. Discuss with relevant staff and senior management the proposal, including the advantage and disadvantages.

The consultant will not perform the needed system enhancement to ensure impartiality to any product or service. He/she will be disqualified from any future call for the performance of the system enhancement.


  • IT/MIS assessment methodology and tool based on industry standard tools; these will be discussed and approved by FSSI
  • IT/MIS assessment report, including the identification of the appropriate IT/MIS requirements
  • Comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage enhancement of FSSI IT/MIS based on the assessment and the proposed IT strategy of FSSI
    • with annex listing recommended and alternative technologies, together with their brands, models, and cost estimates. 
  • Presentation to and discussion with FSSI senior management and concerned staff of the IT/MIS assessment report and the comprehensive proposal for a multi-stage enhancement of FSSI IT/MIS.

Duration and Location

The coordination meetings with the staff and IT assessment will be held at the FSSI office or thru online meetings.

The consultancy is a part-time professional service contract of around 6­­-7 days.

Estimated Timeline for the consultancy:

Institutional Arrangement

The consultant will work with the M&E Officer and Administration Assistant, and other staff as needed. The consultant will report directly to the M&E Officer.

FSSI will purchase the required materials and equipment for the IT upgrade.


  1. With educational background on Management Information Systems, Information Technology, Computer Science, and other related courses
  2. Expert in Microsoft technologies, especially Windows 10, Microsoft 365, and Azure.
  3. Expert in Windows Server technology, Active Directory, and other windows server technologies (familiarity with Ubuntu Linux technologies is a plus)
  4. Proficient in networking technologies and management
  5. Proficient in IT security and disaster recovery
  6. Familiar with financial services organization applications and technologies (credit services)
  7. Familiar with developing IT operational procedures, Security policies, IT services, help desk processes

Application Process

Interested and qualified candidates should submit their applications which should include the following:

  1. Proposed IT assessment methodology and implementation work plan.
  2. Quotation (Professional Fee) for the consultancy work.
  3. Updated and detailed curriculum vitae

Applications should be emailed to the Human Resources and Administration Manager Doreen Erasga, not later than August 13, 2020, Thursday.


What's New in FSSI

Investing in women makes smart economics and – in the COVID-19 scenario – will be essential for economic turnaround during the post-pandemic recovery.

Yet, many women remain marginalized. Businesses owned and led by women account for a large untapped source of job creation and economic growth in developing countries, including the Philippines. Women-owned or led social enterprises (WSEs) encounter significantly more barriers to growth than their male counterparts, including less access to capital to expand their enterprises.

To address the financing gap, Investing in Women (IW), an initiative of the Australian Government, has partnered with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI). Programmatically active for 10 years, the project involves an investment capital from IW and FSSI of at least Php 80 Million (AUD 2.5 Million) to support the business growth of WSEs.

Supporting Women Owned/Led Social Enterprises 

The IW-FSSI Project will support the development and scaling up of 12 WSEs. These enterprises are those with clear and viable business expansion plans, and a commitment to consistently improve their triple bottom line targets of People, Planet, and Profit and drivers of growth for their respective social enterprises. The project will provide the following support:

Investment Capital

· Investment capital of between Php7M to Php16M per WSE through either debt financing, equity or mezzanine financing, joint venture or any combination of these

· Promotion of gender lens investing (GLI) through tapping additional investors

Technical Assistance

· Reviewing and/or drawing up business strategic plans

· Making available updated trends and information about the industry, market, technology, finance, and sales

· Providing training and mentoring (on financial management, marketing and sales, quality control, HR development, change management, and business continuity planning)

Other Support

· Support for the adoption of appropriate industry/business innovations

· Appropriate environmental management plans

· Gender planning

Established in 1995 through a debt for development swap between the governments of the Philippines and Switzerland, FSSI seeks to apply innovative financing and capacity building support that will maximize both social and financial returns through valuable entrepreneurship, at the same time ensuring equitable development and environmental sustainability in all its initiatives. Since 1995, it has supported over 200 sustainable development projects in marginalized communities. 

“We are grateful for our partnership with IW and we look forward to working with women-owned and women-led social enterprises (WSEs), especially at this challenging time when the pandemic is affecting many WSEs,” said FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet.

The IW-FSSI project will tap the expertise and networks of FSSI’s consortium partners, the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), in delivering the needed capacity building and mentoring requirements. 

The following are the criteria for women social enterprises to become partners of FSSI’s Investing in Women (IW) Project:

For more information or inquiries about the IW Project, contact:

Irene Fernandez

Partnership Manager, FSSI

Erness Guinto

IW Project Officer, FSSI

Visit Investing in Women for more details.


What's New in FSSI

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) held its first 25th Anniversary Webinar on July 23, 2020, with speakers Prof. Cielito F. Habito, Ph.D, Former NEDA Director General and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and Mr. Rico Gonzales, Managing Director of social enterprise incubator Xchange.

The webinar on Rising Up to the Challenge: Social Enterprises in the Time of COVID-19 looked into the situation and outlook for the Philippine economy, particularly the challenges and prospects for social enterprises, in light of COVID-19. 

You may view the webinar below:


Newsletter, What's New in FSSI

Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, provides an analysis around the impacts of COVID-19, previous pandemics and recessions, on the economic position of women through a rapid review of academic and grey literature on gender, COVID-19, and women’s formal employment. It also presents risks and opportunities looking ahead. Here is a summary of some of the key report findings. You can access the full report here 

What Previous Recessions and Pandemics Tell Us 

There are unequivocal findings showing consistent common themes that women’s economic security, formal employment participation, political representation, health outcomes, and educational achievement are negatively affected by economic and health crises, more so than men’s. These outcomes have a long-term negative impact on women’s human capital formation and economic security. Further, economic and health crises exacerbate pre-existing inequalities and set gender equality back.  

Women and girls are disproportionately vulnerable to economic shocks compared to men. Pre-existing gender inequalities mean that women have less access to productive resources, which translates to lower earnings and bargaining power; thus, women’s limited ability to develop their capabilities, make strategic choices, and participate on equal terms with men in the economy.  

The negative consequences of economic and health crises on women are compounded by the systematic lack of women’s participation and leadership in crisis response and recovery strategies and the failure to include gender-specific analyses in these strategies. The recovery period following recessions is estimated to be 3–7 years and previous crises demonstrate that a lack of attention to gender equality in national and business response recovery strategies will set gender equality back decades.  

Women and COVID-19 

The COVID-19 crisis is more significant than previous economic or health crises in both depth and scope. Women have been affected immediately and are likely to be more adversely affected in the longer term unless gender progressive interventions are made.  

The worst affected sectors include retail trade, accommodation, food services, tourism, and manufacturing – all of which are highly feminized, making women exposed to the heaviest burden of job loss and a prolonged decline in income and labor force participation.1 

Women are also disproportionately employed in the health sector and associated industries operating at the frontlines. The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of the global healthcare workforce are women. While health workers represent a relatively small proportion of the total workforce in Southeast Asian countries where Investing in Women works – the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar -they are exposed to the direct health risks of COVID-19, often without adequate personal protective equipment and for very long hours, vulnerable to infection and worried about passing infection to their families.  

COVID-19 has also intensified pre-existing gender division of labor and the double burden of paid and unpaid work. Social norms mean that many women have found themselves responsible for home schooling their children, caring for elderly family members, and doing household chores even while working. Where working from home has been implemented, there have been some reports it has driven a more equitable division of work and care2 while others have reported this has contributed to an elevated risk of domestic violence.3 

Post-COVID-19: Risks and Opportunities  

In a crisis context, there is a risk women may face a ‘new normal’ or a return to the ‘old normal’ of reduced employment opportunities as employers prioritize male employees in the allocation of work and in the rehiring and promotion process. Women may also face work conditions being degraded due to financial pressures, reflecting the prioritization of economic efficiency over labor rights. 

The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to revalue economic and care work. If gender-sensitive policies, including work from home arrangements, are carefully implemented, this could improve pay and conditions for the female workforce. Men’s exposure to the full domestic experience during lockdown could also prompt a positive shift in the gendered division of labor. Sharing the burden of essential unpaid work could have positive normative and economic effects on women’s economic participation. 

There are opportunities post-COVID-19 to embed gender equality at the center of national recovery strategies in line with the global commitment to improving women’s workforce participation (G20, 2017).  

As governments and businesses focus on immediate concerns of health, livelihoods and the economy, gender equality may take a ‘backseat’ in crisis management. However, gender-blind policies could have damaging consequences for workplace equality. Previous recessions have shown that diversity and inclusion strategies also fall in priority. If economic recovery strategies are gender responsive, there is an opportunity to ‘build back better’ with women and girls as a focus in crisis management and recovery (UN, 2020).  

Gender equitable recovery strategies will also boost national productivity, deliver inclusive growth, and underwrite the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. These strategies should include policy measures that support women’s formal employment opportunities, women’s entrepreneurial activity, and unpaid care work.  

Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, catalyzes inclusive economic growth through women’s economic empowerment in Southeast Asia. Established in 2016, Investing in Women uses innovative approaches to improve women’s economic participation as employees and as entrepreneurs and to influence the enabling environment to promote women’s economic empowerment in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar