As the world hails the International Day of Poverty Eradication and the recent adoption of 17 new global goals during the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit in New York City, social enterprises call to the Philippine government to put poverty at zero rates by fast-tracking the passage of the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Bill.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of universal agenda critical in ending poverty, fighting inequality and protecting the environment across nations, adding that the integration of goals hinge on people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership will set a world where ‘No one is left behind’.
The SDGs succeeded the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is consisted of 17 goals and 169 targets serving as blueprint for 193 UN member states to work for in the next 15 years, from 2015 to 2030. First of the goals is poverty eradication with other important goals on gender equality, climate change, decent employment, inequality, and justice which were absent in the MDGs.
In the 2014 country report of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), achievement in poverty reduction is dismal from the country’s target for MDGS. Poverty incidence declined from 34.4% to 25.2% from 1991 to 2012 despite the MDG target of 17.2% by 2015. The rate of poverty reduction has also been slow for the period of 2006 to 2012 with an over-all reduction of only 1.4% in six (6) years time.
“We are pushing through the passage of the PRESENT Bill this Aquino administration because this kind of enterprises is actually the best model for achieving poverty eradication and inclusive growth underscored in the SDGs,” said Rep. Cresente Paez, representative of Coop-NATCCCO Party-List and the principal author of the PRESENT Bill.
Social enterprises are mission-driven organizations that seek to benefit the poor and marginalized such as farmers, fishers, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and women, among others through provision of goods, services, and opportunities and enabling them to take part in economic activities in which the profit goes back to the community through transformational services.
Under the SDGs, governments are encouraged to support policies promoting the growth and financial access of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in their respective countries. In a research done by the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, there are more than 30,000 social enterprises that are seen to benefit 2.5 million poor Filipinos if support mechanisms are available for social enterprises.
Currently, the National Anti-Poverty Commission and the Department of Social Welfare and Development have identified social entrepreneurship as an n anti-poverty strategy.
“With the potential of social enterprises in bringing development that is felt by the poor, we call the government to fast-track the legislation of the PRESENT Bill to influence the strategies it will employ in adopting the SDGs,” said Ms. Lisa Dacanay, president of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA).
The PRESENT Bill seeks to grow more social enterprises by supporting major economic subsectors with the most number of poor. It aims to empower the poor by giving them proper avenues where they can start and scale-up their social enterprises through loans, funds for research and development, preferential procurement for social enterprises, linkage to value chain and market, trainings and capacity-building activities, and insurance for social enterprises in times of disasters.
“We call on Congress to gather its remaining opportunities to see this bill passed. We should not let the poor wait any further to provide the support that they need,” said Jay Bertram Lacsamana, executive director of Foundation for a Sustainable Society (FSSI) and co-convener of the PRESENT Coalition.
The Senate version of the bill is filed by Sen. Benigno ‘Bam’ Aquino III. The bill is now waiting for second reading in both houses. The bill is also supported by the PRESENT Coalition, an alliance of various social enterprise practitioners, advocates, NGOs, and academes who have joined together to lobby the passing of the bill. Conveners of the said coalition are Ateneo School of Government (ASoG) and FSSI.