British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad recently underscored the need for businesses to invest more in the community and in the welfare of their employees in order to sustain development and build a better future for Filipinos during the Philippine Business for Social Progress’ 46th Annual Membership Meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City.
Addressing over 200 guests from the business, development and government sectors, the media as well as PBSP officials and staff, Ambassador Ahmad described the Philippines of the future as one where both business and the community are united towards a shared goal, where Filipinos enjoy their rightful benefits as citizens and as workers, and where they are able to become productive employees and contributors to economic growth.
“I have every confidence that the Philippines has a brighter future. When I interact with people like you, my faith in the country gets stronger. I am sure you will build the Philippines of the future, a future where business and the community work for a common purpose. Where there is a clear understanding that healthy, better-paid and educated citizens create the conditions business needs to make profits. Some of these profits need to return to the community in the form of taxes. But above all, businesses have to adopt practices that sustain development and not extract diminishing resources,” said Ahmad in his keynote speech.
He also lauded the “inspirational work of PBSP” through its partnerships with companies and its foundations on community projects, while adding that more businesses should come in and join the concerted efforts to bring inclusive growth and development in the country.
“The bigger companies here have foundations that support a number of community projects. That is how British businesses were in the early phase of CSR. There is a need to move on to more enlightened CSR. That is where your work in PBSP is inspirational…Philippine businesses need to invest more in the community and the welfare of employees. That is how you create customers who can afford to buy your products and services. That is how you sustain development,” he said.
The ambassador cited the achievements of PBSP which advocates for deeper involvement in corporate social responsibility (CSR) through strategic corporate citizenship.
With support from its member-companies, partners, and donors, PBSP reached out to 1,108,088 households in fiscal year 2015-2016 through its core projects on health, education, environment, and livelihood and enterprise development (HEEL).
One of its largest projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fund, the TB (Tuberculosis) program was able to detect, diagnose, and notify over 400,000 cases of the disease through intensified case-finding in vulnerable populations, particularly jails and indigenous communities.
On education, PBSP helped over a million students from 182 public schools nationwide through various initiatives like classroom construction, teachers’ trainings, and supplemental feeding.
The organization built 96 new classrooms this fiscal year with support from the Australian government and other partners.
PBSP’s environment initiatives also resulted to the reforestation of 84 hectares of land at the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape in Rizal and Central Cebu Protected Landscape in Cebu province, as well as the revitalization of 74 hectares of mangrove areas on Bantayan Island and Daanbantayan, Cebu.
On livelihood, PBSP was able to reach out to 30,303 households, provide 22,370 households with access to MSME financing, train 22,370 individuals on employable skills, and assist six companies in the development and implementation of inclusive business models.
Ahmad cited various ways in which businesses in the Philippines can further use their influence to help their workers and the community where they operate. Among these are through companies offering social housing to its employees, public-private partnerships to help deliver infrastructure projects, proper implementation of contractualization, and the establishment of cooperatives and credit unions that can truly attend to the needs of communities.
The Ambassador also assured the business community of the UK government’s commitment to work with the Philippine government and the business sector in achieving these goals for the next 30 years. He said among its major investments in the Philippines are on education, health, and good governance.