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Bill seeks stronger social enterprises

The Daily Tribune (5/10/2012)

Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III is pursuing a program for sustainable growth of poor communities and the local economy through social entrepreneurship. He recently filed House Bill 6085 entitled Magna Carta for Social Enterprises.

“We hope to provide the marginalized sectors, especially our farmers, indigenous peoples, women, and fisherfolks to scale up the impacts of their social enterprises for poverty reduction,” Tañada explained.

He defines social enterprises (SE) as businesses with a social mission that includes caring for the environment, economic viability or sustainability, and improving the lives of the marginalized, especially impoverished sectors.

Unlike ordinary businesses, social enterprises generate profit with due regard to social and environmental costs and makes a proactive contribution to resolving social and environmental problems, Tañada stated.

Tañada also said that there are about 30,000 social enterprises in the country now operating through various forms such as corporations, non-government organizations doing SEs, cooperatives, and associations. HB 6085 also seeks to unite and strengthen the SE sector through government support that will eventually make these industries sustainable.

It will provide incentives for SEs in exchange for the social and environmental values that they create for the society. Many SEs are still involved in the production stage in an economic value chain of certain commodities. HB 6085 aims to mainstream SEs so we could develop our agriculture industries, create access to markets, and competitiveness among the entrepreneurial poor.

Major players in the SE sector include the producers of organic agricultural products, coco coir, muscovado sugar, organic rice, essential oils, bamboo, educational toys, school chairs, brewed coffee, health and wellness goods and other innovative products.

HB 6085 likewise provides access to non-collateralized loans for qualified SEs through special credit windows with a Guarantee Fund Pool; comprehensive insurance system to reduce vulnerability to climate change and calamities; resources for comprehensive capacity development for SEs and poor as partners; proactive SE market development program promoting principles of fair trade; research and development on strategic economic subsectors, appropriate technologies and innovations to democratize access of poor to quality basic social service; preferential treatment in government procurement including coverage of performance bonds; tax exemptions and tax breaks; and cash incentives such as at least 25% of minimum wage for social enterprises employing persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Tañada called on his colleagues to support the bill. He said that he has high hopes that President Noynoy Aquino supports this proposed measure. This is a window for opportunity for the Aquino Administration to put in place a sustainable way of reducing poverty, Tañada stated. He noted that SEs had accomplished good results in South Korea, Europe and America, countries that had enacted laws on social enterprises.

The proposed measure is getting the broad support of the Poverty Reduction through Social Enterprises (PRESENT) Coalition with the Ateneo School of Government and the Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) as convenors. Other members of the coalition include the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA), World Fair Trade Organization, Philippine Social Enterprise Network, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Asian Solidarity Economy Forum, Alliance of Negros Producers, Tahanang Walang Hagdan, and other SE practitioners, academe, and non-government organizations that implement SEs.

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