DAVAO CITY—The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently convened key social enterprises in Mindanao that adhere to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With support from Australia, the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) Summit, which ran for the past 5-and-a-half years, offered capacity-building courses, technical support and policy-reform initiatives benefiting the local micro-, small-, and medium- social enterprise (MSME) ecosystem.
Entering its final year in 2023, the ISIP project has shifted its focus to Mindanao- and Bangsamoro Region-based social enterprises to ensure geographic inclusivity in its scope.
To commemorate International MSME Day, the ISIP Summit gathered impact-driven enterprises, social innovators, investors, government and private sectors, 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 aided 39 social enterprises that address pressing social and environmental issues while being financially sustainable. Fourteen of those have received external financing worth $1 million, or P56 million from “angel investors,” venture capitalists, loans and grants that have enabled them to scale their social impact.
The government of Australia has been a steadfast supporter of the project, and has allocated around AUS$3.3 million for its implementation.
In his opening message, Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran of UNDP Phils. shared the importance of collective action, especially in boosting the social enterprise ecosystem in the country: “The achievement of the UN SDGs, the Philippine Development Plan, and the Bangsamoro 12-point agenda is a vision that cannot be achieved alone. We believe that leveraging [on partnerships pursuant to innovative and sustainable solutions are keys to reach the] ambitious developmental goals.”
Counselor James Yeomans of the Australian Embassy expressed that “the whole purpose of [creating this project was to set up an ecosystem and an environment that] will continue to grow. It is important to have the level of socioeconomic 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 added that while “the ISIP project is ending, the partnership with Australia continues.”
Some partners ISIP has tied-up with are the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bangsamoro’s Ministry of Trade, Investments and Tourism (MTIT).
During the summit Director Hussein Biruar of MTIT shared that in his region, “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 [in formulating] strategies for these BARMM social enterprises.”
As representative of the national government, Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba 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 percent of newly registered businesses in 2020 were owned by women, based on DTI’s 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 at increasing the awareness on the gaps, challenges and opportunities of social enterprises in the local ecosystem, as well as providing a platform for partners and stakeholders to discuss program and policy reforms to strengthen the social-enterprise ecosystem.
ISIP is supported by the Australian government and implemented by UNDP Phils. It was jointly implemented with the Philippine Development Foundation from 2018 to 2021, as well as the consortium of Villgro Phils. and Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development from 2022 to 2023.