PBSP and BCtA’S CEO Forum: Leaders willing to do inclusive businessOct 27, 2016
Top industry executives recently expressed willingness to integrate Inclusive Business (IB) practices into their core operations during the “Business Beyond the Usual: A CEO Forum on Inclusive Business and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” held in Makati City.
For the first time, 45 CEOs and representatives from 22 companies along with delegates from the government and development institutions gathered in the event organized by Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Business Call to Action to discuss ways on how to make their businesses more responsive to the needs of underserved communities through Inclusive Business (IB).
Present at the forum were Manuel V Pangilinan, PBSP Chairman and First Pacific Company Ltd. CEO and Managing Director; Ola Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines; Sahba Sobhani, UNDP Global Program Advisor-Private Sector; Felicitas Reyes , Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary; members of PBSP’s Board of Trustees which include Roberto Umali, Magsaysay Transport & Logistic Group CEO; Aftab Ahmed, CITI Philippines CEO; Pedro Roxas, Roxas Holdings, Inc. Executive Chairman; Luis Pineda, IBM Philippines Country General Manager.
BUSINESS FOR THE POOR
Inclusive Business is the strategy of engaging low-income communities along the value chain of companies as business partners, producers, employees, or consumers to provide better socio-economic opportunities.
With this principle in mind, Pangilinan told fellow businessmen present in the forum that helping the poor also means helping the business sector, considering that the poorest segment of society or the base of the pyramid (BoP) constitutes the largest market at 62 percent and remains as the primary driver of the economy.
“In the past few years, our country has been acknowledged by the global investors community for its remarkable GDP growth, recognizing the economy’s sound fundamentals and its impressive resilience. But this same robust growth cannot hide the fact that of the 100 million Filipinos today, over 26 million or one of every four, remain poor, with almost half of them not having enough to eat to meet their minimum daily nutritional needs,” he said.
Citing the World Bank estimate that over 12 million new and productive jobs have to be produced by the end of the year, Pangilinan asserted PBSP’s view that the best way to alleviate poverty is to generate livelihood and create jobs.
He presented recommendations on how to achieve this which include putting up businesses in rural areas based on its geographic and resource advantages such as tourism, businesses linked to information technology as well as labor intensive businesses like those aligned with infrastructure and medical tourism.
Companies were also urged to give more attention to agriculture, especially on large-scale farming.
Pangilinan said, “The agricultural sector accounts for more than half of our total labor force, and about one-third of the GDP. Most importantly, two-thirds of our poor live in rural areas. A stagnant agricultural sector exacerbates rural poverty, and encourages migration into our cities and thereby creating an enclave urban poor economy.”
UN’s Almgren explained to business leaders their valuable role in achieving the SDGs and encouraged them to integrate these goals into their core business operations to achieve commercial success and bring prosperity to the BoP sector.
He added that by adopting an SDGs-oriented business, social and commercial impact can be created thus helping others escape poverty, improve lives through innovative solutions and employment, and protect the environment while ensuring the profitability of business.
“There has never been a more critical time to change the way you do business, which means going beyond corporate social responsibility (CSR) and integrating the SDGs in core business operations. While CSR started as goodwill, now is the time to move beyond goodwill and advocacy and show leadership, innovation, share resources and offer concrete partnerships. We need leaders like you to move this forward,” he said.
Building on Mr. Almgren’s message, Sahba Sobhani, UNDP’s Global Private Sector Program Advisor, provided an assessment of existing inclusive business maturity and laid out considerations for how to design, measure, communicate and scale impact in line with the SDGs. Mr. Sobhani also introduced the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global advocacy platform that works to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging and supporting companies to develop inclusive business (IB) models.
The BCtA partnered with PBSP, the largest business-led social development NGO in the country, to work towards the reduction of poverty in the Philippines by developing strategies to increase socio-economic opportunities for low-income communities.
“Through IB models, we will see virtuous cycles where as businesses grow and expand, so does their social impact as demonstrated by jobs generation and equitable economic returns to low-income communities. When these communities become more prosperous, they begin to purchase more and higher quality services and products, hence building up these businesses. Communities can then begin to describe companies as partners. To make such virtuous cycles happen faster, our government needs to accurately map out where the poor are — along with their current needs and resources — capacitate them to effectively meet the rigorous standards of business, and use a demand-pull approach where these communities are matched with companies based on what’s actually demanded by the market,” said PBSP Portfolio Manager for Inclusive Business, Anton Simon Palo.
About the Business Call to Action (BCtA)
UNDP-hosted Business Call to Action is a global advocacy platform that works to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging and supporting companies to develop inclusive business (IB) models. BCtA guides companies in aligning their contributions with the SDGs, provides recognition and visibility to quality inclusive business commitments and supports companies through tools and trainings to enhance their commercial and social impact.
Worldwide, over 170 companies have responded to BCtA by making commitments to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions through commercially-viable business ventures.
About Philippine Business for Social Progress
Philippine Business for Social Progress is the largest business-led NGO at the forefront of strategic corporate citizenship and business sector leadership contributing to sustainable development and poverty reduction. Established in 1970, PBSP remains a consultant and partner of choice of companies and donors.
PBSP scales up impact by adopting the Collective Impact strategy to solve large, complex, systemic problems. PBSP organizes Platforms for Collective Engagements (PlaCEs) to ensure alignment and sustainability of initiatives by multiple stakeholders.
Responding to the changing landscape of CSR, PBSP’s brand of corporate citizenship taps into the core business competencies of companies and promotes inclusive business as a strategy. PBSP also continues to strategically engage companies through social investment, responsible business practices, and philanthropy.
PBSP creates sustainable solutions to societal problems in its core program areas which are Health, Education, Environment, and Livelihood and Enterprise Development. It also provides off-the-shelf options for engagement of companies and their employees.
With a proven track record, PBSP provides end-to-end services in development consulting which include project and grants management, events and backroom management.
Jayson R. Mangalus
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