Davao City – With the support of the Australian Government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines hosted an Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) Summit featuring key social enterprises in Mindanao that are aligned with the UN sustainable development goals.
The project, which has run for the last 5 and a half years, offered capacity-building workshops, technical support, and policy reform initiatives for the benefit of the micro-, small-, and medium- social enterprise (MSME) ecosystem in the country. As the ISIP project entered its final year in 2023, it shifted its focus to Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)-based social enterprises to ensure geographic inclusivity in its scope.
To commemorate the International MSME Day, the ISIP Summit gathered impact-driven enterprises, social innovators, investors, government and private sector, students, academic institutions, and other relevant stakeholders. It also highlighted the results and contribution of the initiative in supporting promising innovative social enterprises in the Philippines.
Since 2018, the ISIP project has supported thirty-nine (39) social enterprises that solve pressing social and environmental issues while being financially sustainable. Fourteen (14) of these social enterprises have received external financing worth US$1 million or 56 million Philippine Pesos from angel investors, venture capitalists, loans, and grants, that have allowed them to scale their social impact. The Government of Australia has been a steadfast supporter of the project, allocating around 3.3 million Australian dollars for its implementation since 2018.
In his message, UNDP Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran shared the importance of collective action, especially in the strengthening of the social enterprise ecosystem in the country. He noted that: “the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Philippine Development Plan, and the Bangsamoro 12-point agenda is a vision that cannot be achieved alone. We believe that leveraging collaborations and partnerships to pursue innovative and sustainable solutions is key to reach these ambitious developmental goals.”
Counsellor James Yeomans of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines expressed that: “the whole purpose of setting this (project) up was to set up an ecosystem and an environment which will continue to grow. It is important to have the level of socio-economic growth brought about by social enterprises at the grassroots level, which drives sustainable and peaceful growth, not just in Mindanao, but of course across the country.” He also added that while “the ISIP project is ending, the partnership with Australia continues.”
Among the partners that ISIP has collaborated with are the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Trade, Investments, and Tourism of the BARMM government. During the summit, MTIT Director Hussein Biruar shared that: “Here in BARMM, we are faced with the enormous challenge of developing proper interventions that will support social enterprises. We still see some gaps and there is still a lot of untapped potential. For the MTIT, we will continue to work with partners to formulate strategies for these BARMM social enterprises.”
To represent the national government was Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba, who lauded the project for having a strong gender dimension. “I want to commend the ISIP project for supporting women-led enterprises. In the Philippines, more than 60% of the newly registered businesses in 2020 were owned by women, based on the DTI business name registration data. By empowering and uplifting women entrepreneurs, we are not only fostering gender equality, but also driving economic growth and social progress.”
The Summit aimed to increase the awareness on the gaps, challenges, and opportunities of social enterprises in the local ecosystem and provide a platform for partners and stakeholders to discuss programme and policy reforms to strengthen the social enterprise ecosystem. Among its panel speakers and reactors include Mindanao Development Authority Undersecretary Janet Lopoz, Cooperative and Social Enterprise Authority Executive Director Samcia Ibrahim, Villgro Philippines CEO Priya Thachadi, and DOST Regional Director Anthony Sales.
ISIP is supported by the Australian Government and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in the Philippines (UNDP Philippines). It was co-implemented with the Philippine Development Foundation from 2018 to 2021 and the consortium Villgro Philippines and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development from 2022 to 2023.
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