The Duterte Administration is being handed a very strong Philippine economy. “It accelerated 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, the fastest among 11 selected economies in Asia,” according to the latest report of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries. “It outpaced expansions in China (6.7 percent), Vietnam (5.5 percent), Indonesia (4.9), and Malaysia 4.2 percent).”
But this economic growth is not being felt by at least 80% of the Filipino people. According to a presentation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), only 3.9% are fully enjoying the benefits of this economic growth. The middle class, 16.9% of the population, are barely experiencing it. The masses, 79.2% of the population, are not experiencing this growth at all.
Because of this, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) organized a conference — “Towards A Shared Prosperity: Building Synergies in Competitiveness and Development,” which was held at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City last 24 August 2016. They have realized that —
Much has to be done to reach under-served markets and align incentives with growth. The confluence of government, business, civil society, and academic efforts can help create the structural change that is needed to build capacities, create more and better jobs, expand real income, and alleviate poverty in the long-term.
Joji was invited to be one of the plenary speakers on the topic, “The Contribution of Enterprise to the Growing Inclusive Market Initiatives.” She started by telling them the story of Coffee For Peace:
Coffee for Peace, Inc. (CFP) was established on April 15, 2008 in Davao City. It began when the founders facilitated an informal conflict mediation in the field between a Migrant farmer and a Bangsamoro neighbor. The two were trying to kill each other for the ownership of the rice field ready for harvest, regardless of who planted the rice or who owned the land. Instead of shooting each other, the two were invited for a dialogue over coffee. Since then, the two avoided killing each other. They started inviting other members of the community to have coffee together — for peace.
CFP started as an Income Generating Program (IGP) of the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI)—a Mennonite peacebuilding movement in the Philippines that exists (a) to train and multiply effective Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Team Leaders; (b) to support the leaders in organizing and nurturing their respective PAR Teams; (c) to establish contextually-relevant PAR Communities; and, (d) to develop aNetwork of PAR Communities.
To enable PBCI to become self-sustainable, an IGP was created to support its mission.
However, due to the organic social involvement of CFP, it became a separate business entity with the following mission:
Coffee for Peace has been training farmers on Arabica production, the principles of fair trade, trading policies and pricing, for the past 8 years. Aside from working in Mindanao, CFP has also trained coffee farmers in the Cordillera Region and is looking forward to train more in the different provinces of northern Philippines.
- We share with them the Coffee for Peace Value Chain — “from crop to cup”
- We inspire them to dream for their people and their community
- We teach them the value of quality
- We market their coffee.
- We provide access to market.
- We link them to other trade and industry players.
As Chairman of the Board of Coffee For Peace, I’m so confident to tell the members of our board, our investors, partners, and clients that this social enterprise is being managed intelligently and passionately by its CEO, and the business world is listening.
Joji happens to be my wife.
What is needed now is to consolidate the reforms made, embark on the next set of reforms and move ahead at full speed. In the short-term, deepening reforms in budget execution will allow the country to use its growing fiscal space to increase investments in both human and physical capital, with positive contributions to near-term growth and quality of jobs. Over the medium-term, accelerated structural reforms are needed to enhance competition in sectors with high impact on jobs (such as rice, shipping, and telecoms), securing property rights through more systematic and administrative adjudication of land rights, and simplifying business regulations to encourage the growth of firms of all sizes, while increasing tax effort and reforming the budget execution system in order to sustainably ramp up public investments in infrastructure and social services. In all these, priority is needed in Mindanao, where decades of conflict and weak, Manila-centric policies have kept it from reaching its potential. To accelerate reforms in the future, the government, business, labor, and civil society need to work more closely together to support a package of reforms that will help the country move full speed ahead to create more and better jobs.