Special Report: Social enterprises are keys to social and economic dev’t—group

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ANTIPOLO City, Nov. 23, 2011—With the grinding poverty gripping the country, the government should support social entrepreneurs and not rely only on big business conglomerates that are created to amass profits, for the country’s development.

Jay Bertram Lacsamana, Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc.’s (FSSI) executive director said the Philippine Government should begin to tap local resources in order to push the economy forward into development, and not to rely heavily on foreign direct investments (FDIs), which has failed to raise the economy.

“The development of social enterprises, we believe, is a sustainable tool for poverty-reduction. A social enterprise, for us to know, is a business with social mission. Aside from financial values, it also creates social and environmental ones,” Lacsamana explained.

“What are these, one might ask?” he said. “It could be in the form of cooperatives, enterprising non-profits (NGOs) and other self-help organizations,” he said.

The FSSI had been into social entrepreneurship since the 1990s, supporting the local coco noir (the fiber from coconut husks) in the Southern Luzon region.

“The Government can support us, social enterprises and entrepreneurs, by ensuring a positive environment for social enterprises, especially those which are owned by disadvantaged communities. One helpful measure would be the affirmative action on procurement of social enterprise products and services,” Lacsamana said.

“This would not only help local production but would also generate other values such as improving self-worth of the disadvantaged, environment protection, building community’s identity, among others,” he added.

Citing the latest data from the United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), Lacsamana said that while FDI flows had increased tremendously in the past decades, in the least developed countries like the Philippines, it has failed to create livelihood to the majority of people who are living below poverty line.

The Unctad report, said Lacsamana, has revealed that most of the FDIs are into natural resource extractive industries such as mining and logging.

“FDIs also were not able to link foreign firms to local ones that should build the knowledge for technology transfer and to provide additional value,” he said.

GDP is not the barometer for economic success

The FSSI also said that the government should stop using the gross domestic product (GDP) as the barometer for country’s development.

“We should not just look at GDP as a measure of our sustainability but instead look at our social and environmental performance as well to fast-track poverty reduction,” Lacsamana said.

Citing the Stratbase Research Institute’s study, Lacsamana said even though the country is registering somehow a high economic growth, but the income gap between the rich and the poor remains enormous and that the GDP growth never translated into poverty reduction.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the country’s GDP has registered a 3.4 per cent growth this quarter, compared to 4.6 per cent on the previous quarter.

While this is the case, the country’s poor, according to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey grew by 3 per cent, from 49 per cent in June 2011, to 52 per cent this November. That translates to more or less 10.4 million families, living in poverty.

CCT’s ‘band-aid’ solution

Just like any other groups, the FSSI believes that the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, commonly known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Aquino administration (which was pioneered by the previous administration of Gloria M. Arroyo in 2008), will never solve the poverty problem in the country.

“The CCT helps but it’s a temporary relief and hence, should be bridged by interventions that will build the skills of the poor that will allow them to create wealth that is sustainable and will enable them to participate in building their local economies,” FSSI said.

Instead of the CCT, the group urged the Government to help social entrepreneurs—or businesspersons that are creating business, not only to gain a little, but to create jobs and sustainable wealth for the communities.

The FSSI as well as other social entrepreneurs’ groups, has been contemplating of drafting a social entrepreneur bill in order to help social entrepreneurs expand their businesses and to help the poor communities get off from the claws of poverty. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]


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