SIXTY-SIX percent of the country’s total employment is sourced from small and medium enterprises. After all, MSMEs comprise 99 percent of business. Aptly described as the backbone of the economy, it merits all the support from government if only to promote the still elusive inclusive growth.
In the recently concluded forum of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through the Board of Investments (BOI), the government launched the Inclusive Business (IB) models that would support the country’s inclusive growth strategies.
Dubbed as “Inclusive Growth through Inclusive Business,” the forum was the tenth activity under the Trade and Industry Development Updates (TID Updates) and was the main activity of the BOI’s 47th Anniversary last September.
DTI Undersecretary and BOI Managing Head Adrian Cristobal said in his opening message that the BOI which has been identified with mostly large scale industries and projects has been experimenting with its policies and programs to promote this time small and medium scale industries.
Attended by BOI registered firms from various sectors and top officers from Asian Development Bank (ADB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), PHINMA Property Holdings, Kennemer Foods International and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the forum discussed the role of IB in nation-building and economic development.
ADB defined “Inclusive Business” as commercially viable profit-making private companies whose core business solutions are designed to address social issues for the poor and vulnerable by engaging them as a producer, employee, distributor or consumer of goods and services. The aim of the program is poverty alleviation with the improvement of living standards.
“The BOI first heard of inclusive business in 2012 from ADB,” Cristobal explained. The following year, we saw a swirl of activities, meetings, workshops, plant visits, focus group discussions, interviews to form a plan to promote inclusive business in the Philippines beginning with BOI-registered enterprises. We focused specifically, upon the technical advice from ADB, on agri-processing, tourism, and housing,” he added.
As part of next level engagement, IB workshops would be conducted to focus on manufacturing, mass housing, tourism, and health sectors to equip the BOI in IB project facilitation and accreditation. Through this endeavor, the plan is to mainstream IB in government industrial policy and influence other government agencies in advocating for similar policies.Also this year, the government, through the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), approved the ADB country programming on Enhancing Rural Enterprise and Rural Employment Program (EREREP) which aims to increase rural employment, encourage growth and expansion of rural enterprises and improving the skills of workers and job seekers particularly in agro-processing and rural tourism.
The ADB will also assist in the design of the Project Preparatory and Technical Assistance (PPTA)through a 1 million dollar grant while the DTI will be the executing agency of the PPTA. BOI will be working jointly with the ADB for the preparatory studies, capacity building and the startup loan activities. The output of PPTA will directly impact on the design of the rural employment fund to be launched in either 2015 or 2016.
Cristobal said that the BOI has been doing a lot of to contribute to the inclusive growth agenda which has been a priority since 2011 under the current administration from providing incentives, to introducing corporate social responsibility (CSR), to requiring socialized housing projects, and industry roadmaps launches. That is a lot. It is a wonder however, why inclusive growth remains an exclusive domain of the rich.
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