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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.


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 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 does it really mean to be practicing the triple bottom lines or 3BL? That question guided the conduct of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc.’s (FSSI) series of forums on Promoting the Growth and Sustainability of Social Enterprises through the 3BL Approach, held this year in key major cities nationwide.

“While people talk about it, very few organizations are really serious in measuring these bottom lines. And that’s the sad part because you can talk about it, but if you’re not serious about measuring them, you are just mouthing them, giving it lip service,” says Dr. Eduardo Morato, the Philippines’ social enterprise guru and Bayan Academy Chairman and President. Dr. Morato was the guest speaker in the forum held last August 30, 2019 in Quezon City, which gathered FSSI’s SE partners in Luzon.

Dr. Eduardo Morato, the author of the first book on SE in the world, talks about what it really means to be 3BL

In his talk, Dr. Morato stressed the need to measure the triple bottom lines – which include the social and environmental components of an organization and not just its financial performance. “You cannot manage what you don’t measure. You have to be serious about it if you’re really gonna make a difference,” he says.

Dr. Morato also addressed the seeming trend of businesses claiming to be social enterprises but whose profits do not redound to the poor. “Ngayon it’s sosyal to be a social enterprise. I will price my product and put some sob story there so that you will pay me more for my product… But for me, I would measure whether the social benefit accrues more to the business plan or the low income earners. That to me is a very, very important description.”

Meantime FSSI’s partner Mr. Paris Uy of Livegreen International highlighted the importance of perseverance in addressing problems and challenges in SE-building. Starting in 2009 as a humble organic vegetable grower and distributor, Livegreen is now supplying to 45 chains of supermarkets and companies. It also initiated trainings of farmers in organic farming, in partnership with Benguet State University. 

General Manager Ellen Limocon shares Lamac Multi-purpose Cooperative’s journey to success

For the Visayas leg of the forum, Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative’s General Manager Ellen Limocon shared how their cooperative was able to grow a seed capital of Php 3,500 in the 70’s to over Php 1 billion in assets today, transforming a remote mountain village in south-western Cebu and the lives of their members.

“God valued the sacrifices of the coop,” said Ellen who recalled that Lamac MPC’s early members contributed whatever talent and resources they had for the benefit of the community. “From chipping-in capital, to opening up roads, setting up electrical power and creating business, to providing water… the members did it with enthusiasm. Now, Barangay Lamac is a self-sustained community through the spirit of the cooperative movement,” she said.

Lamac MPC is a multi-awarded coop and Gawad Parangal Hall of Famer of the Cooperative Development Authority.

FSSI gathered SE partners in Mindanao on November 20, 2019, for the 3BL Forum in Davao City

In Mindanao, FSSI’s social enterprise and network partners gathered in Davao City on November 20, 2019, in the wake of a series of earthquakes that devastated parts of the region.

MINCODE representative and FSSI’s Board member and Projects Committee Chairperson Agnes Bolanos noted that the discussion on the triple bottom lines is timely, with the world facing a climate emergency. She encouraged SEs in Mindanao to come up with projects that would not only ensure profit is made but would also increase capacities of the vulnerable sectors. “Doing business as usual is alarming. We should do something to address the climate emergency, at swak dito ang 3BL approach ng FSSI,” she noted.  

Sustainability in business practices is what Lao Integrated Farms, Inc. (LIFI) highlighted. LIFI is a family social enterprise advocating organic farming and the triple bottom line approach. Through partnerships with government agencies and local and international organizations, LIFI prides itself in doing business morally, transforming small farmers to entrepreneurs. With several certifications on organic farming and fair trade, LIFI’s Lovely Lao Lato says “going organic” has paid off for their organization, as they have gained a steady market for their products abroad.

FSSI’s SE partners sign the Statement of Commitment to the Triple Bottom Lines

3BL Works

Aside from learning from the speakers, FSSI’s SE partners also shared their challenges and achievements in implementing the 3BL approach within their organizations.  

Malabog Integrated Enterprises Development Cooperative (MIEDECO)’s Vice Chairperson of the Board Rosalina Dulabay says addressing difficulties is about adapting and innovating. MIEDECO was organized by church leaders in 1986 as part of a comprehensive livelihood program supported by Kapwa Foundation. In 1995, the program ended and the farmer members were faced with the challenge of running the coop on their own. Dulabay says they were able to manage and even improve their operations by establishing linkages with government agencies and non-profit organizations.  She stressed the importance of having good leaders and capacitating their members.

Mr. Fred Fredeluces, CEO of Green Tropics Coffee Enterprise, also highlighted governance as essential in the growth of an organization and its members. He says leaders should have genuine concern in implementing the changes they want to happen. “We started the 3BL approach 20 years ago in Mt. Matutum, and we have seen the results,” he says.  “The farmers used to earn Php 900 per month per household. Nung in-apply naming ang 3BL, it increased to Php 3,500 per month. Dati illegal hotspot ang area; now hindi na dahil nagtanim sila ng kape and other products. Kumikita ang community, at the same time we are producing high quality coffee. Dati hirap na hirap sila. Ngayon, from shanties to semi-permanent houses. Dati highest educational attainment was Grade 5; ngayon meron nang college graduate. Ibig sabihin, na-address ang people by taking care of the planet. Kaya sana marami pa ang mag-adopt.”

FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet thanked partners for their active participation in the forum and enthusiasm to improve their organizations’ triple bottom lines. “Sana ay maging simula ito ng mas malago at tuloy-tuloy pa nating pag-uusap. Mahalaga ang ating patuloy na pag-uusap at pagtutulungan para mapagbuti natin ang ating triple bottom lines,” he said.

At the end of each forum, representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shared with SE partners the services they can avail from the agency and its upcoming plans. DTI-NCR Regional Director Ms. Marcelina Alcantara encouraged SEs to make use of the DTI’s Shared Service Facilities and participate in the One Town, One Product (OTOP) program. In Cebu, DTI-7 Assistant Regional Director Ms. Maria Elena Arbon advised the “elder” participants to make use of technologies in marketing their products and to bridge the gap with the younger generation. In Davao, DTI RAPID Growth Project Manager Mr. Pedro Terry Tuason gave an overview of the program and encouraged partners to participate. RAPID Growth is a 4.7-billion peso initiative that aims to transform agri-based MSMEs for global markets. FSSI is among its Project Steering Committee members. You can read more about the program here.

You can view more photos of the 3BL forums by following these links:

3BL Forum in the Visayas
3BL Forum in Mindanao


ZEP2030 held its 4th General Assembly on November 26, 2019, at the UNILAB Bayanihan Center with the theme, “ZEP2030 Acceleration: Empowering Local Variations”

The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) has joined Zero Extreme Poverty Philippines 2030 (ZEP2030) as one of its lead convenors.

ZEP2030 is a civil society-led movement that aims to help uplift one million Filipino families from extreme poverty to self-sufficiency by 2030.

Launched in 2015, it envisions Filipino families enjoying the fullness of life in sustainable communities.

In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated poverty incidence among Filipino families at 16.5% or 3.4 million families.

The subsistence incidence or the proportion of Filipino families in extreme poverty is estimated at 5.7% or 1.3 million families.

To achieve its overall goal, ZEP2030 incorporated the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into seven themes on health, education, livelihood, environment, agriculture and fisheries, housing and shelter, and partnerships for indigenous peoples.

Thematic clusters have been formed, with each of the member organizations bringing into the coalition expertise, information, resources, and a committed response to the call of action to end extreme poverty by 2030 in the Philippines through sharing, synergy and solidarity.

This year the coalition also focused efforts in intensifying local convergences, recognizing the importance of working together locally and collaborating with local government units and community members.

FSSI Executive Director Sixto Donato C. Macasaet says joining the coalition was a natural course for FSSI, “ZEP2030’s vision aligns with what we have been trying to achieve in FSSI. We believe that addressing extreme poverty among Filipinos is a tall order one person or organization cannot do alone; this can be achieved through collective impact of organizations working together.”

Lead convenors collectively provide oversight, including monitoring national targets and actively pursuing timelines, identifying needs and gaps, anticipating and overseeing issues critical to reaching the targets, and arbitrating between clusters and local convergences and looking for solutions to overcome issues prohibiting the movement from reaching the targets.

There are currently 19 lead convenors, including five FSSI members (Association of Foundations, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas, National Secretariat for Social Action, and Partnership of Philippine Support Service Agencies), the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, Peace and Equity Foundation, and UNDP, among others.


Malasila, North Cotabato (Photo courtesy of David Santos, CNN Philippines)

It has been over a week since a series of earthquakes rocked Mindanao, but for the thousands of residents affected, urgent help is needed for relief before they can even start rebuilding their lives.

Based on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s latest report, 21 died and two are missing, while thousands are displaced in Regions 10, 11, 12, and BARMM. Over 35,000 homes have been destroyed. The full extent of damage is expected to become clearer in the coming days as authorities and civil society organizations complete their assessments.

On the ground, the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) is facilitating coordination among member and partner CSOs in Mindanao who are responding to the survivors.

These include the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), PhilDHRRA, PAKISAMA-Mindanao, KAMI, AADC and the Association of Foundations (AF) through the Kasilak Foundation. MINCODE, PBSP, PhilDHRRA, and AF are member organizations of the Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc (FSSI).

While conducting rapid damage and needs assessments, MINCODE members are also distributing relief items. Families are in need of sanitary and hygiene kits, food, water, clothing, blankets and shelter kits, among others.

We are calling for your support to help the responders address the needs of evacuees and affected communities in areas that are underserved.

For those who would like to donate, please coordinate with MINCODE at (082) 299 0625. For in-kind donations, the MINCODE Office at No. 3 Juna Avenue Corner Camia Streets, Juna Subdivision, Brgy. Matina Crossing, Davao City, can serve as a drop-off point.

For cash donations, MINCODE’s bank details are provided below.

Bank: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
Account Name: Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE)
Account Number: 2141-8891-95

For inquiries, you may also get in touch with us at or at (02) 8-8928-8671.

On October 29, a magnitude 6.6 quake with epicenter at Tulunan, North Cotabato, struck. It was followed by a magnitude 6.5 quake two days later, compounding the damage. These came after a magnitude 6.3 temblor hit on October 16, 2019.