As we are getting deeply immersed in divided communities because of unresolved conflicts, the more we are becoming aware of the need for inclusive economic development as a critical aspect of our peace and reconciliation ministry.
Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) is the heart of our ministry.
Our concept of peace — from the Hebrew term shalom and the Arabic term salaam — is understood here as:
- Harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation);
- Harmony with our Being (psycho-social transformation);
- Harmony with Others (socio-political transformation); and,
- Harmony with the Creation (economic-ecological transformation).
Our understanding of reconciliation is focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace
- the painful past and
- the necessary shared future, as a means of dealing with
- the present.
PAR determines our operations at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and at Coffee For Peace, Inc — the current embodiment of our ministries here as Mennonite Church Canada workers. PAR will also be the framework as we facilitate the establishment of other ministry structures initiated by PAR Communities across the Philippines. PAR is also a set of lenses through which we implement and assess an economic concept called Inclusive Growth.
In the past few months, Dann and I have been actively participating in an inclusive growth movement in Mindanao being spearheaded by the Central Mindanao University (CMU). PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee For Peace were invited to participate in the First Mindanao Social Business Summit last June 4-6, 2014 at the CMU campus. As one of the participants in this Summit, we helped in promoting inclusive economic growth in Mindanao with the theme “Wealth Creation with Justice and Peace through Social Entrepreneurship.” As a result of this Summit, a mentoring hub for inclusive growth entrepreneurs was established which we now call Mount Kalayo Institute for Social Enterprise Growth (MKISEG).
I was exposed to the concept of Inclusive Growth three years ago when I was invited by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to participate in an economic conference.
“Inclusive Growth refers both to the pace and pattern of growth, which are interlinked and must be addressed together. Rapid pace of growth is unquestionably necessary for substantial poverty reduction, but for this growth to be sustainable in the long run, it should be broad-based across sectors, and inclusive of the large part of a country’s labor force. This definition implies a direct link between the macro and micro determinants of growth.”
In that economic conference, ADB used Coffee For Peace as a business model for Inclusive Growth:
INCLUSIVE BUSINESS IN THE AGRI-BUSINESS SECTOR
Products for which yield issues do not exist or can be overcome.
Coffee for Peace sources arabica coffee beans and civet coffee, the most expensive coffee in the world, from 19 tribes in Mindanao, the poorest region of the Philippines. Receiving fair prices from Coffee for Peace instead of below market price from middlemen and traders increases the income of the indigenous people and thereby supports the peace building activities in the region through economic development. Coffee for Peace utilizes the inclusive business model in their promotion and markets the coffee to the export market as “Just” coffee with a premium price.
(Promoting Inclusive Growth through Business Development at the Base of the Pyramid — Inclusive Business Market Study, Philippines, March 2013, ADB TA- 6518 REG, p.35)
The economic growth of the Philippines is currently one of the hottest in the world and we have even invited our friends to invest in the Philippines. But this economic growth is not being felt by the majority of our people. Only a few oligarchs in our country are enjoying this so-called economic growth.
In that same ADB conference, I learned that —
“Over the past decade, the Asia and Pacific region has successfully reduced income-based poverty and improved living standards for all, including the poor and those vulnerable to poverty.
Based on most recent international poverty figures, by 2005 about 27% of the Asia-Pacific populations live on less than $1.25 per person a day and 54% are vulnerable to poverty ($2). Despite the global financial crisis, the poverty incidence in the region has further declined over the last years. The social indicators of poverty in the region, as expressed in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have also shown substantial improvement since the 1990s.
While poverty and living standards have improved in the region, more than 900 million people in Asia and the Pacific still live on less than $1.25 a day. In terms of economic benefits and access to social services, large numbers of people are being left behind or left out. In many developing countries, economic inequality has increased in the past decade. Without steps to address these disparities, the risks this trend poses – including social instability – will continue to grow.”
(Asian Development Bank)
Inclusive Growth became a strategic agenda in the economic growth in the Philippines, and consequently, we have integrated the concept in our Peace and Reconciliation ministries through PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee For Peace.
There are many more debates about Inclusive Growth. A very critical set of questions are still have to be answered:
“At the forefront of this endeavour is clarifying what inclusiveness means. Is it equity? Empowerment? Opportunities? Participation? Satisfaction? A combination of these? Or something else? Greater clarity about this is essential to making sense of the relationship between inclusiveness and growth to define inclusive growth.”
(Rafael Ranieri and Raquel Almeida Ramos, IPC-IG Paper 188: International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth)
Inclusive Growth is based on 3 pillars:
- high, sustainable growth to create and expand economic opportunities;
- broader access to opportunities to ensure that members of society can participate and benefit from growth; and,
- social safety nets to prevent extreme deprivation.
Immediately after the Summit, the PAR Community in Bukidnon met for prayer, breakfast and discernment process on how to initiate an inclusive growth framed in Peace Theology. The result was the establishment of Sidlak Kalinaw (Shine Peace) — a social business company offering agro-industrial and affordable housing technologies.
While still overwhelmed by the initiative of the PAR Community in Bukidnon, Dann and I were invited by a group of Christian individuals and families in Metro Manila who are successfully running their respective small- and medium-sized business companies. Through their Bible study group, they felt moved by the Spirit to go beyond the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) their respective companies are involved in. They wanted to go further and start a new business together that advances justice and peace in the business community.
After a few coffee and lunch meetings with the key couple, we decided to gather as a group — both their friends and our friends — specifically to do something together about this “spiritual restlessness to use our business skills to love God, to serve the people, and to nourish our resources to advance peace and reconciliation.” At the time of this writing, the corporate lawyers in the group have started drafting the articles of incorporation for a new inclusive growth company.
Inclusive Growth is fast becoming a key aspect towards a sustainable Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) movement that is happening among the beautiful people in this beautiful land.