opinion

Social enterprises give a spark of hope

May 17, 2021

People and organizations who extend their help are rays of sunshine these days, sending light to those who need it most in these challenging times.      Social enterprises (SE) are one of them. These businesses do not just care about profits, but also, and more importantly, they care about the impact and benefits that they bring to society. They think about the people. They think about the planet.  They think about our future.      But they need our help.      BPI Foundation, the social development arm of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), aims to do just that – to empower these SEs by providing them the support they need to further promote their advocacies.      For seven years now, the BPI Foundation, through its BPI Sinag program, has nurtured, developed, and empowered the local SE sector. While it was initially conceived as a business challenge for SEs, it has now evolved into a growing ecosystem with over 180 SEs that continues to bring together not just the country’s visionary entrepreneurs, but also mentors, investors, and other stakeholders who share the same goal of achieving inclusive and sustainable growth through social entrepreneurship. A study published in 2017 by the British Council and Philippine Social Enterprise Network, with support from the European Union and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, found that there may be as many as 164,473 social enterprises operating in the Philippines.      Titled “Reaching the Farthest First, The State of Social Enterprise in the Philippines”, the study affirmed that “social enterprises have played a pivotal role in generating employment, alleviating poverty, improving a local community, and empowering marginalized groups.”      Given these socio-economic benefits, this year’s BPI Sinag, dubbed “Sinag Spark”, continues its partnerships with social impact organizations such as Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development, Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Endeavor Philippines, Start-Up Village, and Villgro Philippines, as well as BPI Direct BanKo, the microfinance arm of BPI. For the first time since its conception in 2015, BPI Sinag has also partnered with Ayala Land, a subsidiary of Ayala Corporation, to help expand the market access of SEs.      “As part of our commitment, we aim to shed light and give hope—give a Spark to our struggling social enterprises who, in spite of the pandemic, continue to pledge their cooperation by focusing not just on profit, but also on people and planet,” said BPI Foundation Executive Director Owen Cammayo.   Spark hope      In the “Sinag Spark” business challenge, 40 SEs will be included in the shortlist, of which 20 will move on to the finals. Out of the Top 20, 10 social enterprises who are best able to showcase their business viability and social impact will be named the BPI Sinag Spark awardees. Aside from exclusive mentorship opportunities, the awardees will also receive cash grants amounting to P300,000 for the top five SEs and P100,000 for the rest.      In addition, Sinag SEs will experience an MBA-like atmosphere  in the virtual mentoring sessions. They will cover business strategy and planning, marketing, operations, finance, organization & HR development, and social innovation, among others.   Best practices      Among the many exciting activities and initiatives lined up for this year’s BPI Sinag program include the publication of a book on social entrepreneurship. The Foundation will publish its second BPI Sinag Book later this year to document and share more of the best practices and inspiring stories of growth from the BPI Sinag alumni.      While the future may still look dark given the ongoing pandemic, initiatives such as this give us a spark of hope. It gives us a glimpse of a brighter world with kind enterprising souls who are not only after growing their businesses, but who are driven more to pursue the common good and well-being of the people they serve.      So if you are a social entrepreneur, 18 years old and above and leading a registered social enterprise that has been operating for at least six months, this is your opportunity to shine. Unleash your spark and check the complete eligibility requirements via https://www.bpifoundation.org/page/bpi-sinag. The application period will run until July 6. MIRA and Other Essays      After much delay with the printer, my book MIRA and Other Essays, came out fortuitously in time for Mother’s Day.       MIRA and Other Essays, my third book after “Central Banking for Every Juan and Maria” and “From Leyte to Bessang Pass”,  is a biographical compilation of notes, articles, speeches, lectures,  Facebook posts, anecdotes and  jokes written by me, or about me,  my family,  friends,  associates and my work.   It is also about other people who, in one way or the other, touched my life.  It is part romance, part drama, and part action, spiced with a little  humor.       My first  work was distributed by PowerBooks. But given the current environment, you may conveniently place your orders online and I will have your copy or copies delivered to your doorstep via Lalamove or LBC. Just give me  a shout at totingbunye2000@gmail.com or PM  me at Toting-Mira Bunye.       Note: You may wish to share the foregoing article via Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In.

READ MORE
Uncommon sense

May 17, 2021

As I ponder the back and forth and up and down in my surroundings and the whole world, a book from my library falls into my hand: Peter Cochrane's Uncommon Sense with the subtitle Out of the box thinking for an in the box world.      "Peter Cochrane is one of our most far-sighted visionaries, and brings brilliant clarity and focus to our understanding of ourselves and our technologies, and of how profoundly each is transforming the other." describes Douglas Adams, author of  The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.      In Uncommon Sense, Peter Cochrane's follow up to the radical 108 Tips for Time Traveller.  Peter explains how very simple analysis allows the prediction of such debacles as the 3G auction and the subsequent collapse of an industry, whilst simple-minded thinking is dangerous in the context of a world that is predominantly chaotic and out of control.      People balked when Peter suggested a wholesale move to eWorking, the rise of email and text messaging, and the dotcom regime mirroring the boom and bust cycle of the industrial revolution. His predictions of the use and growth of mobile devices and communication, or use of chip implants for humans to replace ID cards, passports, and medical records, or iris scanners and fingerprint readers - were all seen as unlikely. Today they are a reality.      I don't know how you feel nowadays, my dear readers. As christian the bible -and here especially Proverbs help me a lot. As I mentioned in one of my previous write ups, Proverbs is probably the most down-to-earth book in the bible. Its education prepares you for the street and the market place - somehow out of the box thinking for an in the box world, too.      Proverbs offers the warm advice you get by growing up in a good family and for successfully making your way in the world. It covers small questions as well as large: talking too much, visiting friends and neighbors too often or being unbearably cheerful too early  in the morning. Proverbs simply tells how life works most of the time. People, and count me in, love to quote Proverbs, which often express truth about life in an elegant, witty kernel. You'll find more humor in Proverbs than anywhere else in the bible. And humor often seems to have passed in these days and age. +++      Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

READ MORE
When our life seems senseless

May 10, 2021

"In this world there are only two tragedies," said Oscar Wilde. "one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." This paradoxical proverb has often proved true.      Many people think that if they only had more money they would be happy. Howard Hughes was the world's richest man when he was only 45 years old. Twenty years later, at sixty five, he still had all his money but was probably the world's most miserable man. He had retreated from society, living in small dark rooms in different hotels and keeping all the sun out. He was dirty , his beard grew down to his waist, and his hair fell down his back. His fingernails were two inches long. His huge body had shrunk to nothing.      In today's pandemic times many people are also asking themselves about the meaning of life. I don't need to go into that any further here. Everyone knows. Everyone may experience it themselves or find it in their families and surroundings. Yes, the pandemic is far from over, even if there are the first openings and loosenings here and there.      "What is the point of life?" people are asking. You work hard, and many times someone else gets the credit. You struggle to be good, and evil people take advantage of you. You are in a great situation and accumulate money, and it just goes to spoiled fellow men and women. You seek pleasure, but it turns sour on you. And everyone - rich or poor, good or evil, meets the same end. We all die.       I found Ecclesiastes in my bible. A book for our time. Ecclesiastes strikes a responsive chord. No century has seen so much progress, and yet such despair. What is the purpose of life anyway? Is there any ultimate meaning? I even asked myself all these questions, since some people around me passed away during the last weeks.       A key phrase in this book, "under the sun", describes the world lived on one level, apart from God and without any belief in the afterlife. If you live on that level, you may well conclude that life is meaningless.       Ecclesiastes attracts extreme reactions. Novelist Thomas Wolfe said of it, "Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound."      It's really true. Please check it out and try to read it. And find out for yourself if life really seems so meaningless! +++      Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

READ MORE
Brigada ng Ayala

May 10, 2021

I would like to congratulate Ayala Foundation whose flagship project “Brigada ng Ayala” was recently recognized  by an international publication as the “best CSR initiative” in the Philippines.       Brigada ng Ayala  is the Ayala group’s unified effort to support the Department of Education‘s Brigada Eskwela and Oplan Balik Eskwela programs.       International Business Magazine, a Dubai, UAE–based publication, cited the Ayala group’s continuing efforts to support teachers and students in the public education system.       The International Business Magazine Awards recognize “best in class achievements pertaining to budding industrial talent, global leaders, corporates …. across various spheres related with the international business and finance arena.” This year’s set of awardees represent various industries and businesses in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.       Spearheaded by Ayala Foundation and supported by the Ayala Group Human Resources Council and Ayala Community for Social Impact, Brigada ng Ayala is the group’s effort to rally its 50,000-plus-strong citizens to serve public schools through volunteerism activities.       Brigada ng Ayala is one of the expressions of the Ayala group’s continuing commitment to national development in the Philippines.      “We at Ayala Foundation are grateful for this recognition, especially because it came as we are celebrating our 60th anniversary,” said Ayala Foundation President Ruel Maranan. “Brigada ng Ayala is our unified and sustained way of assisting our teachers and students in the public education system. Our education programs, including Brigada ng Ayala, serve as an expression of our continuing faith in the Filipino.”      Several runs of Brigada ng Ayala were conducted in previous years. Every year, the number of supporters and participants grew.      In 2020, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brigada ng Ayala continued to serve public schools all over the country. This time, Brigada ng Ayala sought to address some of the urgent needs of teachers and students during the “new normal” of education. These included the provision of health and hygiene kits, the provision of hand-washing facilities, and access to online resources.      As of January 2021, over 258 schools have been served, reaching at least 5,600 teachers and 21,000 students, and resources valued at PhP181.5 million  have been deployed.      In addition, the Department of Education itself has officially recognized the Ayala group’s contribution to education. In the last 5 years alone, the Ayala group has invested over PhP500 million  in terms of support for the public education system.       In three separate occasions,  Ayala Foundation, distributed at least 2,100 learning and hygiene kits as well as home prepaid WiFi kits for students and teachers in Batangas, Quezon, and Rizal.      In Batangas, Ayala Foundation led the turnover of 500 health and hygiene kits called “EduCare kits” to the Batangas provincial government. Aside from the EduCare kits, the Ayala group also turned over boxes of food, 7,500 disposable face masks, and 200 (personal protective equipment) gowns to aid the province’s COVID-19 response.      In the municipality of Balete, Batangas, the Brigada ng Ayala initiative turned over 300 EduCare kits and 22 units of Globe at Home prepaid Wi-Fi devices.      Mayor Wilson Maralit and Vice Mayor Alvin Payo of Balete, Batangas, personally received the donations on behalf of the municipality. “Umaasa ako na marami pa kayong matutulungan na ating mga kababayang mahihirap, ‘di lamang sa bayan ng Balete, kundi sa buong Pilipinas,” said Maralit.       A total of 800 EduCare Kits were distributed during the Quezon Province leg of Brigada ng Ayala in April 2021      In Quezon, 800 EduCare kits were endorsed to the Provincial Governor’s Office, the Municipality of Sariaya, and Barangay Tumabaga, also in Sariaya. Six home prepaid WiFi kits were endorsed for distribution to select learners, as well as 2,500 face masks.       In Pililla, Rizal, the Ayala group turned over 500 EduCare kits, through the Municipal Mayor’s Office and Barangay Wawa. Fifteen Globe home prepaid WiFi kits were also distributed. Representatives from AC Energy also joined the distribution of Brigada ng Ayala kits in Pililla.       The recipients expressed their appreciation for the Brigada ng Ayala kits. Kier Asis, a computer science major from Batangas and one of the recipients of the Globe prepaid WiFi kits, said: “Hindi po maiinterrupt ang aming pagvivideo call at mabilis po (ang internet). Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Globe at Home for giving us the gift of learning.”      Earlier this year Ayala Foundation supervised the distribution of Brigada ng Ayala EduCare packs and Globe prepaid WiFi kits in Cagayan de Oro City; Cebu; El Nido, Palawan; and Catbalogan, Samar. Ayala Foundation is scheduled to conduct additional Brigada ng Ayala distribution activities in April and May. Among the locations are Albay, Catanduanes, Marinduque, Cagayan, and Isabela.       For 60 years, Ayala Foundation has been serving communities all over the country through programs that promote education, sustainable livelihood, and love of country.  I am proud to have been once associated with the Foundation, when it was still known as the Filipinas Foundation, Inc. (FFI). Under Executive Director Tomas “Buddy” Gomez III, FFI  established the Ayala Museum which has a permanent exhibit of dioramas depicting defining moments in Philippine history. FFI  supported scholars in vocational and technical education. It also assisted  research which produced important policy papers, eg., “An Anatomy of Muslim Affairs in the Philippines” and “The Filipinos in America”.       Note: You may wish to share the foregoing via FB, Twitter or Linked-In.

READ MORE
China's megaphone diplomacy

May 10, 2021

UPTOWN, Cagayan de Oro — Foreign Secretary Teddy Boy  Locsin may have  lost  his cool on China’s megaphone diplomacy over the disputed WPS.      Fact is, the issue of China’s influence over the WPS  has turned into a global media  hype, vultured every inch of the issue by the western press.      With no sign of backing up its claim in the disputed islands, China’s narratives on national security, political donations and media influence are indeed waxed with greed on a global scale.      To deal with a world power that is not, China has somehow risen  her political populist agenda globally through the WPS claims.       China’s so called growing global power is pretty much ‘worrisome’ indeed to the free world such that one false move would likely become a catastrophic scenario.      Now the call for a  Duterte-Carpio debate  on who to blame for the WPS fiasco is one laughing matter for China.       The accusing fingers of Carpio against  Duterte are irrelevant,  more so insignificant in the eyes of the public  amid mounting pressure for Malacanang to take a stronger stance on the issue of   the WPS.      To put it bluntly, the Carpio runaround is nothing but a political dirt, a one-man maneuver out to discredit  Duterte’s kid’s glove policy on China’s WPS claim.       Be that as it may, what’s so relevant in this issue is the way how the US responds to the call of support as long-time ally.      The recent flotilla of Chinese militia vessels anchored for a while at the WPS is nothing but a simple case of  ‘testing the waters,’ so to speak.       What’s happening there actually is a war of nerves. No more, no less. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

READ MORE
Private sector importation of vaccines

May 3, 2021

The Duterte administration has taken a lot of hit for its handling (or mishandling) of the COVID 19 pandemic. But to be fair, this pandemic is something which no government anticipated and prepared for. There has been no previous reliable playbook which government could consult. Thus for most governments, it was “learn as you go” and “trial and error” during the early part of the pandemic.       I would not be too harsh in judging this administration. It was doing its best under the circumstances.  However, if I were to fault the administration, it will be in its much delayed decision to allow the private sector to import  vaccines. It is a given that the private sector has consistently been more efficient in the matter of procurement. Had the go-signal been given much earlier, we will probably be  more than 25 percent of targeted vaccination by now.       Last April 13,  I had the good fortune to get my first jab of Atra Zeneca, courtesy of the local government of Muntinlupa City. No, I did not have to jump the line. I was included in the A2 priority (Senior Citizen). I stayed thirty minutes  at the vaccination center for observation and, good for me, I did not show any adverse reaction. Even the next day, my left arm did not feel numb but I did feel sleepy in the afternoon. I am scheduled to get my second dose on June 12.  In the case of a friend who got injected with Sinovac, the only after-effect he reported  was his sudden unexplained craving for Chinese food.       Despite my vaccination, I will never let my guard down. Vaccination only reduces the chance of getting sick by 85 percent or 60 per cent, depending on the vaccine. Even if I don’t get sick, I may still become a carrier. So I will continue to observe all health protocols like wearing of face mask and face shield, regularly wash my hands (while humming the happy birthday song twice) and observe physical distancing. I don’t quite agree with the reported decision of President Biden to dispense with the use of face masks outdoors by those who have already completed their vaccinations.       Here is how seriously we take health protocols at the Kiwanis Club of Muntinlupa Rizal. Before the scheduled Board of Directors meeting of the club  last April 24, Club President Larry Molera  issued the following reminders:      “As our precautionary measures:- 1) Our venue will be held at the LOBBY, an open area w/o aircon. 2. Let us maintain social distancing. 3) Wear face mask and face shield at all times (except when eating). 4) No talking when eating!!” Bank of the Philippine Islands board      During the April annual stockholders meeting of the Bank of the Philippine Islands, the following were elected to the  15-member Board of Directors: Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Fernando Zobel de Ayala,  Cezar P. Consing,  Romeo L. Bernardo, Ignacio R. Bunye ,  Ramon R. Del Rosario, Jr., Octavio V. Espiritu,  Rebecca G. Fernando, Jose Teodoro K.  Limcaoco, Aurelio P. Montinola III, Mercedita S. Nolledo, Antonio Jose U. Periquet, Cesar  V. Purisima,  Eli M. Remolona, Jr., and Maria Dolores V. Yuvienco. Purisima took the place of Xavier P. Loinaz who earlier resigned for health reasons.       In the immediately following organizational meeting, the following were elected as officers:      Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman; Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Vice Chairman; Jose Teodoro K. Limcaoco, President/CEO; Dino R. Gasmen, Treasurer; Angela Pilar B. Maramag, Corporate Secretary; Emeliana Elisa F. Navarro, Assistant Corporate Secretary and Marie Christine M. Ty-Doromal, Assistant Corporate Secretary.       The 170-year old bank had a good run in a bad year. Despite its slowest balance sheet growth in years (1.3 percent), BPI had its moments in 2020.  Outgoing President Cezar P. “Bong” Consing enumerated them, as follows:      -Having executed 1.8 billion in online transactions in 2020, BPI has become  the acknowledged leader in digital banking.        -Capital adequacy ratio grew to 17.1 percent.       -BPI’s asset management and mutual funds businesses saw assets under management growing by 16.8  percent and 95.6 percent, respectively.       -Mortgage lending grew by 6.6 percent.       -BPI’s microfinance bank, BPI Direct BanKo, already the second largest (in its class) in the country, grew by 6.5 percent.       -BPI’s investment banking unit, BPI Capital, was the leading debt and equity underwriter in the country.       -BPI was one of only two Philippine companies which was given by Standard and Poor’s,  a BBB+ rating,  equaling  that of the Philippine government.       -The BSP continues to give BPI the highest ratings for its capital position, asset quality, management, and low sensitivity to market risk.        -BPI’s ESG scores consistently place it  either first  or second among Philippine banks.       -BPI is the only large Philippine bank whose shares outperformed the Philippine Stock Exchange index in 2020.       -BPI remains the second largest bank by market capitalization.       -The prestigious finance publication Euromoney named BPI as the Best Philippine Bank in 2020.       Note: You may wish to share this via Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In.

READ MORE


Subscribe Now!

Receive email updates from Business Week.