Scaling Up Investments in Agricultural Social Enterprises

To bring many communities out of poverty, social enterprises and agriculture (must) go hand in hand. Because of their high potential as driver of inclusive growth, the Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF) saw the opportunities to grow enterprises in four crops – coconut, cacao, coffee, and cane sugar, as well as climate-smart practices, otherwise known as “C5”.

From 2011-2015, PEF has supported 179 social enterprises worth Php 572 million, with a potential reach of 111,000 beneficiary households.

As it marks its 15th founding year of managing an endowment fund for civil society-led poverty alleviation efforts, PEF transitions to the next cycle of growing social enterprises with a keen resolve to scale up SEs that are viable, competitive and sustainable.

Partnership to develop the coffee industry

The Philippines is one of few countries in the world that produces all four varieties of coffee – Arabica, Excelsa, Liberica, and Robusta. Today, the country produces 25,000 metric tons and ranks 110th in the world in terms of output.

However, domestic consumption is almost 100,000 metric tons a year, making the country a net importer. The biggest challenge lies in the availability of processing equipment coupled with farmers’ mind set of quick harvesting methods resulting in poor quality dried beans. Small farmers are also discouraged by the low market prices of special coffee varieties in the previous years. Adding to the problem are senile or unproductive trees, leading to a shortage of supply.

In its efforts to find replicable models, adopt best practices and seek partnerships required to build a supportive social enterprise ecosystem, PEF links up with the Philippine Coffee Board, Inc., a private sector-led advocacy group, to develop and promote the Philippine coffee industry.

An industry summit in October will bring in coffee experts, practitioners, academe and other stakeholders for a two-day learning event in Davao.

Php 500-million investment for agri SEs

PEF earmarks another Php 500 million worth of investment (Php 100 million per crop) in the next five years for “C5” SEs. This investment focus must result to financial and social impacts. Looking into the value chain of these commodities, PEF will identify where its investment should strategically be positioned and aligned with government, private sector and other industry actors. Synergy of actions will be directed on creating opportunities and addressing constraints at specific levels – on productivity (such as farm diversification, technology); value addition (product development, packaging); and market development (certifications, licensing).

In the same spirit of meaningful collaboration, 15 key events are lined up for the 15th year celebration. These occasions will provide PEF an opportunity to amplify its advocacy of pushing social enterprise as a compelling strategy for inclusive growth, particularly of the basic and vulnerable sectors. 

The Peace and Equity Foundation aspires to drive positive change in poor Filipino household communities by investing in social enterprises that will provide them with viable livelihood and better access to basic services. We work with partners who share this vision by developing models and best practices that will steer social enterprises to scale up. Founded in October 2001, our Foundation is the steward of an endowment fund and registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization based in Quezon City, Philippines.

Sources:
Flores, L. “How can the Philippines be a top coffee exporter again? Philippine Star. January 2014. “Coffee’s Rich History in the Philippines”. Philippine Coffee Board. DOST PCAARRD, 2014 
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