“Creating access through partnership. The purpose permeated PEF’s efforts in 2005. The major thrust of PEF’s efforts in the years to come.”
Fr. Noel D. Vasquez, S.J. Former Chair
20 years of Prosperity for Every Family
The Peace Equity Access for Community Empowerment Foundation (or Peace and Equity Foundation, PEF) was established to manage a Php 1.3 billion endowment fund raised by the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) for civil society-led programs that would empower the poor and the marginalized in Philippine society.
PEF’s first task was to identify which poorest communities to reach and how to prioritize them. Using a participatory process of assessing key poverty indicators, PEF identified priority provinces in which it would concentrate its efforts and resources. A poverty map shows interrelationships and patterns of poverty in an area and brings together groups to work together towards sharing of resources and a clearly articulated plan for the people’s progress in the area.
To reach the greatest number of poor communities, PEF worked with Partnership and Access Centers (PACs). With the poverty map, the PAC formed a clearer understanding of local poverty conditions. In the process, the consortium developed partnerships with local stakeholders. Three pilot PACs were formed in Cotabato, Cebu and the Cordillera Autonomous Region.
PEF has been supporting projects that respond to the problem of pervasive poverty in its different challenging facets. It works closely with people’s organizations, non-government organizations, cooperatives, faith-based groups and similar entities engaged in poverty alleviation involving livelihood and employment, basic social services and community empowerment.
About a kilometer away from the town center of Maluso, Basilan is a cluster of shanties that stand on thin wooden stilts in the middle of the sea. A 400-meter footbridge connected the resettlement site of the Samal Bajaus and the town proper which made going to school, selling their catch, and availing medical care easier. The taytayan became a symbol of their striving for a more decent life.
PEF continued to find new ways to widen its development outreach.
Microfinancing to Remove Barriers to Renewable Energy
Microenterprise Development in Mindanao
Guarantee Fund for Microfinance
PEF tested the convergence approach to localization in selected provinces. This required strong collaboration with local governments and the private sector. The result is a locally-defined poverty reduction agenda.
Amidst the tremors of a global financial crisis, PEF flexed its development financing modes to preserve capital but still extend outreach. This record-setting milestone reached another 8,000 households, with Mindanao receiving the highest share for microfinance projects.
Rebuilding lives and communities after a major disaster remains part of PEF’s commitment. Communities have come together around their common interest in restoring security, safety, physical infrastructure and a sense of stability.
A promising pattern among assisted projects reveals that poor households would have a better chance of making it out of poverty if they had sustainable livelihood. Social Enterprise became the potential model for inclusive and lasting growth.
After a decade, PEF braced for a new challenge of making Social Enterprise work for the poor. Nine social enterprises became PEF’s “unang taya” (i.e., to be among the first to invest in SEs that hold potential but need assistance) in piloting the SE approach.
An SE needs to mobilize and draw resources from its ecosystem to grow and be viable and sustainable. PEF started to invest in five components to grow the enterprise - capacity development, networking, appropriate technology, marketing, and customized financing.
Five flagship commodities were chosen to hasten economic development in rural areas, particularly in the agricultural sector.
In the same year, the Peace & Equity Holdings was established to serve as an investment platform for SEs that have high-growth potential.
To make entrepreneurs investor-ready and thrive in a very competitive market, a more interactive capacity building approach was structured using self-defined capacity needs critical to the growth of an enterprise.
PEF revisited its first enterprises and households to find out if its investment has produced sustainable livelihoods for the more than 2,500 target households. Better product pricing, improved production processes and newly acquired skills are early signs of success.
Building up its initial attempts, PEF transitioned into a more focused mandate of scaling up social enterprises. Capital infusion in other industries; infrastructure development for water systems; technical assistance for an Islamic program; and grant support for non-enterprise projects like calamity assistance, advocacy and network building further expanded PEF’s reach and leverage.
Influenced by the increasing poverty incidence in agricultural households, PEF put greater emphasis on developing agricultural social enterprises that are focused on four priority crops (C4) – cacao, cane sugar, coffee, and coconut.
To create a more focused and deeper impact at the household level, PEF started to shift to an area-focused approach connecting social enterprises and enablers across the value chain of priority agricultural commodity crops and integrating basic social services.
PEF saw markers that through its work, social and economic benefits are reaching the poor and are making a positive change in the communities it serves. By adopting an area-focused approach, PEF seeks to be more responsive to communities’ aspirations, opportunities and challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought significant economic and non-economic volatilities to both PEF and its partner communities. Despite the unprecedented challenge, PEF was able to support community social enterprises while helping in the fight against COVID-19 and its challenges through initiatives that benefitted 56,000 affected households in 12 provinces.