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On social enterprises and women’s SMEs: FSSI Executive Director discusses partnership with Investing in Women

News Stories /25 August 2020

In this interview with Ruth Cabal on CNN Philippines’ Newsroom Ngayon, Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. (FSSI) Executive Director Sixto Donato Macasaet talks about social enterprises, FSSI’s work and the foundation’s ongoing partnership with Investing in Women.

A link to the interview and transcripts in English and Filipino are provided below.


Ruth Cabal (RC):
Ano po ba ang kinaiba nitong social enterprises dun sa mga regular na negosyo na alam po natin?
(What sets social enterprises apart from other, more common businesses?)

Sixto Macasaet (SM): Yung tinatawag nating social enterprises, yung mga negosyo na tumatakbo, pero bukod sa kita na tinitignan nila, tinitignan din nila yung ang tawag naming ay triple bottom line. Bukod sa kita, ay tinitignan rin nila yung kalikasan—yung environment—tsaka yung kapwa o yung social. So, yung three bottom lines ng economic, environment at ‘tsaka yung social.
(Social entreprises look beyond earning revenue and consider what we refer to as the triple bottom line. Social enterprises look at environmental and social factors, too. Hence, the three bottom lines are economic, environmental and social.)

RC: Okay. So, pag ganyan po, can you give us examples ng mga social enterprise? Lalo po yung mga tinutulungan ng inyong foundation?
(Could you please give us examples of social enterprises, particularly ones that are assisted by your foundation?)

SM: Yung uri ng mga tinutulungan namin na mga organisasyon, actually, iba-iba. Pero karamihan ay mga kooperatiba. Pero meron sigurong mga 60% na mga partners naming ngayon, meron kaming 80 partner social enterprises sa Pilipinas ngayon—sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng Pilipinas—mga 60% noon ay mga cooperatives, kooperatiba. Pero tumutuong din kami sa mga organisations, mga associations, mga non-government organisations. Pati sa mga single proprietors, mga corporations, yung tinatawag natin na mga corporations na. Ang mahalaga sa amin ay yun nga—sinusunod nila yung triple bottom line.
(Our organisation helps different types of social enterprises. Most of these, however, are cooperatives. We have about 80 partner social enterprises from different parts of the Philippines at the moment, and about 60% of those are cooperatives. But we also help organisations, associations, non-government organisations. Also single proprietors and corporations. What’s important to us is that they follow the triple bottom line.)

RC: Pag sinabi niyong cooperatives, puwede diyan yung mga farmers, locally produced products, ganyan?
(When you say ‘cooperatives,’ do they cover farmers and locally produced products?)

SM: Opo, pati po yung mga gumagawa po ng mga iba’t ibang produkto galing sa agrikultura, tapos mayroon din po kaming mga partners na microfinance, NGOs, at yung mga nagtre-trade sa mga organic vegetables.
(Yes, including those that manufacture agricultural products. We also have microfinance partners, NGOs, and those that are into trading organic vegetables.)

RC: Pero ngayon pong may COVID-19 pandemic, ano po kaya ang nagiging epekto nito sa mga social enterprise, or mga maliliit na negosyong tinutulungan niyo po?
(How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting social enterprises, or the small businesses that you have been assisting?)

SM: Malaki po yung naging dagok nitong pandemic. Nung tinignan po naming yung mga partners naming nung April, May, nakita naming na halos lahat sa kanila naapektuhan yug kanilang kita, yung kanilang revenues. Mga siguro, two-thirds sa kanila, napilitang mag-shut down—kung di man total, ay partial shut down, kasi nga naapektuhan yung pagpasok ng mga trabahador nila, naapektuhan yung supply chain nila, yung inputs nila at ‘tsaka yung marketing nila. Kaya malaking dagok talaga. Nung tinanong naming sila, siyempre inaasahan nila na maapektuhan yung kanilang kita para sa taong ito. Although simula naman nung Mayo, nag-iba, medyo nagiging mas maganda na yung sitwasyon kumpara nung March, April, May.
(The pandemic has been a huge setback. When we assessed our partners in April and May, we saw that almost all of their revenue has been affected. Two-thirds of them were forced to shut down—if not totally, partially—because their workers could not come to work, their supply chains were affected, as well as their input and marketing. When we asked them, they said they expect their revenue for this year to be affected. Although, starting May, things changed a a little compared to how they were in March and April.)

RC: That’s good to know. Kahit yung mga interview naming sa mga ibang experts, di ba nagbibigay din sila ng tips dun sa mag parang nauuso, o yung mgapatok na sabihin nating mga social enterprises o small businesses. May mga nakita din po kayo sa panahon ng krisis na ito ay kahit paano, lumago o sumigla naman yung negosyo? Anu-ano pong klase yan?
(That’s good to know. We’ve interviewed other experts, who also gave tips on social enterprises and small businesses that are in right now. Have you noticed any businesses that appear to have prospered during this crisis? What types of businesses?)

SM: Well sa mga partners namin, malinaw na nagtutuloy naman yung mga nasa agrikultura, ‘tsaka sa pagkain dahil kailangan naman talaga natin yan kahit sa panahon ng pandemic ay gumganda naman yung kanilang performance. Tapos, ah, in fact yung isa naming partner na nasa organic vegetables, tumaas pa yung kanilang sales ngayong panahon ng pandemic kesa nung nakaraang taon daw. Pero bihira yung ganun, ‘no? Isa pa sigurong area na may promise yung sa health, related siyempre sa kalusugan. Well yung iba pa, although konti yung partners naming dun, ay yung involved sa ICT, sa online business.
(Looking at our partners, it is clear that agriculture and food-related ventures are continuing operations because we do need these and even during the pandemic, their performance is improving. In fact, one of our partners, one that trades organic vegetables has experienced an increase in sales during the pandemic—better sales than last year’s. Such a cases are very rare, though. Other businesses that show promise are health related. There are also those involved in ICT and online businesses, although we have very few partners from that industry.)

RC: Saan po? Sorry, hindi ko po narinig yung last part?
(Where? Sorry, I didn’t catch the last part?)

SM: Sa ICT, yung mga nagbibigay ng services, sa technology ‘tsaka sa logistics.
(ICT, those that provide technology and logistics services.)

RC: Ah, sa technology po.
(Ah, technology.)

SM: Mga deliveries. So yun, yun yung puwedeng mga negosyo na mukhang kahit sa panahon ng pandemic, maganda ang takbo.
(Delivery services. These businesses can continue to operate, and even during the pandemic, can prosper.)

RC: Sige Sir Dodo, mamaya marami pa po tayong mga pag-uusapan kasi ang alam ko po yung foundation niyo ay nag-aalok din ng tulong dito sa mga social enterprises. Pag usapan po natin yan, kasama po natin ang Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc., sa pagbabalik ng Newsroom Ngayon dito sa CNN Philippines.
(Alright, we still have a lot to discuss, Sir Dodo. I understand that your foundation renders assistance to social enterprises. We’ll talk about that, together with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc., when we return to Newsroom Ngayon here at CNN Philippines.)

RC: Ang grupo niyo po ang FSSI, ay nag-aalok rin ng tulong sa mga social enterprises. Can you tell us more about this, Sir?
(Your organisation, FSSI, assists social enterprises. Can you tell us more about this, Sir?)

SM: Yung FSSI nga, nabuo kami, actually 25 years ago. So 25th year namin ngayon. At tumutulong kami sa social enterprises sa pamamagitan ng, well may financial services kami. Kasama na dun yung mga pautang ‘tsaka equity investments. Meron din kaming mga capacity building services. Tumutulong kami na mapalakas yung kanilang management, yung kanilang mga systems sa mga social enterprises.
(FSSI was formed 25 years ago, so obviously, it’s our 25th year. We help social enterprises through financial services. These include lending and equity investments. We also offer capacity building services. We help strengthen the management, the systems of social enterprises.)

RC: So ngayon po, ano po yung mga proyekto ninyo? Paano po yung mga gustong lumapit sa FSSI para humingi ng tulong? Ano pong kailangan nilang gawin? At ano pong klase ng social enterprises ang tatanggapin niyo?
(So, what are your current projects? What do social enterprises need to do to ask for your elp? And what types of social enterprises will you consider?)

SM: Ngayon yung regular naming programa ay ang natutulungan namin o yung focus namin ay mga social enterprises na meron nang nasimulan. Hindi na lang siya ideya, pero meron nang at least isang business cycle, naipakita nila na gumagana o tumatakbo yung negosyo nila at kailangan nila ng tulong para financial na tuling para mapalaki yung kanilang negosyo.(The regular focus of our program are social enterprises that have already started. They are no longer just business ideas, have undergone one business cycle, have demonstrated that their business is running and that they need financial assistance to grow the business.)

SM: Ngayon kailan lang mayroon kaming nasimulan na programa, yung Investing in Women program, na sinusuportahan ng Australian Government. At ito may particular na focus na women-owned and women-led social enterprises. Nasa panahon kami ngayon ng paghahanap ng mga potential partners na women-owned and women-led social enterprises para na rin tulungan sila sa pamamagitan ng maaring utang, maaring equity investment, ‘tsaka sa capacity building.
(Just recently we started  a new program with Investing in Women, which is supported by the Australian Government. It particularly focuses on women-owned and women-led social enterprises. We are in the process of seeking women-owned and women-led social enterprises as potential partners, so we can help them through lending capital, equity investments and capacity building. )

RC: So, ano po yung mga social enterprise na para sa mga kababaihan, na puwede pong sumali sa programang iyan?
(So, what kinds of social enterprises for women can be part of that program?)

SM: Yung…well, mga exploratory pa lang ngayon ‘no, pero yung mga ibang kinakausap naming ngayon merong gumagawa ng mga pagkain, yung mga pastries, so puwedeng ganun. Meron ding gumagawa ng, yung sa weaving, sa paghahabi, na mga iba’t ibang produkto. So puwedeng ganun. Puwedeng agricultural, processing. Basta ang mahalaga nga sa amin sa special na programa na uun, ang mahalaga ay ang nagmamay-ari sa kanila ay mga kababaihan o namamahala ay mga kababaihan.
(The ones we are exploring at the moment are into making food, like pastries, so that could be a possibility. There are also those who are into weaving different kinds of products. It could also be agricultural or processing [businesses]. What’s important to us is that the business is either owned by or managed by women.)

RC: Sir, huli na lang. Tips para dun sa mga gustong ipagpatuloy yung kanilang mga social enterprises o small businesses at this time, and paano po sila lalapit—contact information po ng FSSI.
(Sir, this will be my last [question]. Please provide tips for those who wish to continue their social enterprises or small businesses at this time, and how they should approach your organisation—contact information of FSSI, please.)

SM: Well yung sa tips ‘no, ang nakita namin siyempre ngayon, dahil nga sa pandemic, mahalaga na suriin muli yung kanilang negosyo, o tignan talaga kung papaano nila masisigurado yung kanilang patuloy na pagtakbo kahit na sa panahon ng pandemic. So, kailangan nilang tignan yung kanilang workplace arrangements. Kailangan nilang tignan yung kanilang inputs, yung kanilang distribution o yung marketing nila, at siguraduhin na tatakbo yun kahit na sa panahon ng pandemic. Mahalaga ring tignan yung finances nila at sa kasamaang palad, kadalasan ang ibig sabihin nun kailangan magbawas ng gastos kasi mahirap nga yung negosyo. Pero sabi rin natin, sana tignan nila yung mga manggagawa nila hindi lang bilang gastos, kundi bilang investment. So ibig sabihin, sana pag nagco-cost cutting sila, huling-huli na sana magbawas ng mga manggagawa dahil yun nga, hindi lang naman gastos yung mga manggagawa—sila rin yung nagbibigay ng value sa ating mga enterprises.
(As for the tips, what we can see is that because of the pandemic, it becomes even more important to assess their business and see how they can continue to operate despite the pandemic. They have to look at their workplace arrangements. They also need to look into their input, distribution, and marketing, and ensure that all of that will run during the pandemic. It’s also important to look into finances and unfortunately, this often means they have to cut down on expenses because it’s difficult to run the business. But we also want to point out that they should try to look at their workforce not simply as overhead expense, but as an investment. What I mean is that should they need to do cost-cutting, cutting down on personnel should be the last course of action because workers aren’t just expenses on the business’s part—they add value to our enterprises.)

In partnership with Investing in Women, FSSI is currently looking for women-led and women-owned social enterprises as prospective partners. Visit the FSSI website for more details on the project.

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