Inclusive business becomes part of APEC agenda

The High-Level Dialogue aims to move forward Inclusive Business (IB) discussions within Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and draw new perspectives from IB proponents from around the world.

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The High Level Dialogue will be held this November 12 at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City.

IB models help address different challenges in developing countries such as the Philippines, where poverty remains a problem.  In the Asia-Pacific region, more than 700 million people live below the $1.25 per day poverty line, a group collectively called the base of the pyramid. IB models transform the base of the pyramid into a new market for goods and services, as well as a resource pool of talent, skilled labor, and entrepreneurs. This relationship strengthens value chains and ensures the sustainability of businesses and their host communities. The DTI and the BOI have been advocating for the integration of IB into public policy in line with the country’s contribution in realizing inclusive growth within APEC.

“Inclusive Business models allow companies to engage poor and low-income communities as partners, customers, suppliers, and employees in their supply chains. In our experience, these models result in spreading the benefits of growth to the poor and we aim to promote them in APEC,” says Adrian S. Cristobal Jr., DTI Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head.

The BOI has identified a number of successful IB models in the Philippines.

Among these models is Kennemer Foods’ Cacao Growership Program, through which smallholder farmers supplying cacao beans to the company are able to realize a seven-fold increase in annual income, from P25,000 per year to P175,000 per year. This also helps strengthen Kennemer’s supply chain for cacao beans, with farmers seeing a four-fold increase in yield once they became part of the program.

Another example is Manila Water’s “Tubig Para Sa Barangay” program, which effectively lowered the cost of clean, potable water for low-income residents in Manila from P150 to P7, while sustaining economic viability of the initiative.

Recognizing the power of IBs in achieving inclusive growth, the DTI is now promoting these models and encouraging more companies to adopt IB models or develop IB solutions. One such effort to promote IB models is its inclusion in the BOI’s Investment Priority Plan (IPP). The BOI is also considering aligning industry incentive systems to prioritize companies that have integrated the IB model into their businesses.

The High-Level Dialogue aims to establish a deeper and common understanding of IB among APEC members, so that this year’s work on IB can continue when Peru succeeds the Philippines as APEC chair next year. Opening the Dialogue are Undersecretary Cristobal and APEC Business Advisory Council chair Doris Magsaysay-Ho, who will be joined by attended by 200 delegates representing 21 APEC economies.

Multilateral development banks such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), as well as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Call to Business Action platform will be participating in the Dialogue.

Luminaries from the private sector such as Ayala Corporation CEO Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Indofood corporation business development manager Franciscus Welirang; MiBanco product development chief Cesar Vela Bazan; and CEMEX Business Development Director Arturo Rodriguez Jalili will also be participating, along with leading IB advocates such as Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) Executive Director Rafael C. Lopa, among others.

—From the Department of Trade and Industry