With freedom and prosperity for all
One concrete output from the Philippines’ Asean hosting is the recently launched, business-sector-driven Prosperity for All Alliance. With GoNegosyo as its secretariat, the alliance includes groups like AmCham, Bankers Association, Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Financial Executives of the Philippines, Indian Chamber, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Semi-Conductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, among others. I understand the alliance now has 18 of the most influential business groups in the country, so apologies to the others I did not name. You are all doing God’s work!
The alliance will focus on micro, small and medium enterprises, or MSMEs.
“Focus” is actually not precise as MSMEs comprise 99.5 percent of all registered businesses in the country today. Combined they employ almost 62 percent of the workforce. They account for 25 percent of the country’s total export revenue and comprise 60 percent of all Philippine exporters. So our “focus” is actually a humongous one. The key implication, therefore, is that achieving positive and far-reaching impact on MSMEs will almost surely bring us closer to realizing our shared goals of inclusive growth and zero poverty.
Leading the effort to finally make the private and public sectors more aligned in addressing MSME development and sustainability is Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and chair of the Asean Business Advisory Committee (BAC). But Joey has always attributed his and GoNegosyo’s successes to very effective people on the ground, like former trade undersecretary Merly Cruz and Sulu initiatives dynamo Ginggay Hontiveros. It certainly was Joey’s leadership in the Asean BAC that convinced big business in the region to adopt a prosperity-for-all agenda on the Philippines’ Asean hosting year. And it was his calls and viber messages that brought together the 18 business groups to unite on a common purpose to help MSMEs.
Worth highlighting is the fact that this very young alliance has mobilized to support not only the Marawi evacuees but also the soldiers and policemen on the frontline, who are risking life and limb to liberate the city from terrorists. The fallen heroes now number 58 and the alliance has made a commitment to recognize their supreme sacrifice by at least taking care of the families left behind.
But it doesn’t stop there. The soldiers and policemen need what has been dubbed as “care packages” to help them cope with the terrible conditions in the battle zones. The packages even include messages from children and youth who need to understand at a very young age that securing their freedom does come at significant costs and with much sacrifice.
Once the freedom of Marawi is regained, the alliance is committed as well to help rebuild the city together with the government. What programs have been launched and sustained in Sulu will be replicated in Marawi so that families can quickly recover from the ravages of war. It will not be easy, but the commitment to roll out projects and programs soon after our troops accomplish their mission will be key to ensuring that there will be no more left behind.
On the ground, we will have to rely on initiatives like the public-private Kapatid Program and groups like the Philippine Business for Social Progress, which incidentally is now being steered by former education secretary Br. Armin Luistro. To honor the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice, scholarships for their children through the Hero Foundation will be the best vehicle to ensure a future of prosperity for the orphaned. There are many groups ready to bring the proper and well-calibrated response on the ground, and the business community must help them deliver and scale up their efforts. These can be done through funds as well as mentorship, technical assistance and logistics support, not to mention the mobilization of employees as volunteers.
There can be no better way to secure freedom in Marawi and the rest of the country than to ensure prosperity for all.
Peter Angelo V. Perfecto is executive director of the Makati Business Club and vice president of Integrity Initiative Inc.
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