Inclusive Business Models Seen Boosting ASEAN's Economic Growth

Manila Bulletin, August 22, 2017 | Go to article overview

Inclusive Business Models Seen Boosting ASEAN's Economic Growth


By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Companies with inclusive business (IB) models currently account for less than one percent of all registered companies outside ASEAN's informal sector, but they are increasing fast and attracting nearly 60 percent of impact investors in Southeast Asia.

Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments (BOI) Managing Head Ceferino Rodolfo cited this data as he noted the role played by IB models in creating jobs to provide better quality of life, especially for low-income communities.

"IBs help us realize the ASEAN Community Vision 2025's goal of building a people-centered and people-oriented ASEAN," said Rodolfo.

"Inclusive business also allows greater cooperation between the private sector and government to improve lives and foster sustainable economic growth."

Of the more than 500 million ASEAN population, an estimated 332 million people are still considered poor. This is where IB companies have the opportunity to tap a majority of these people, said Rodolfo.

"Considering the opportunities in the ASEAN economy, now is the best time for us to push inclusive business as a way of boosting inclusive growth. We need to take hold of the opportunities that inclusive business gives us so we can collectively build a prosperous ASEAN," Rodolfo said.

Already the existing IB companies have made positive social impact on millions of people for different sectors like health, water, energy, and housing.

The highest impact models and scales in the ASEAN are found in the agribusiness sector, said Rodolfo.

Thailand's Urmatt Group, for example, entered the agribusiness sector by addressing the challenges of smallholder farmers who lived on meager income.

They undertook helping the farms go chemical-free, showing that these organic methods would benefit the farmers' health and produce a higher rice yield.

Now, the over 3,000 smallholder farmers that produce organic rice, chia and coconut products also enjoy higher income levels.

Kennemer Foods International (KFI), an IB model in the Philippines, is a major supplier of cacao to the global confectionery industry. KFI saw the need to equip smallholder farmers with the capacity to grow and maintain cacao, get higher yield, and prevent plant diseases.

Over 10,000 farmers from Mindanao and parts of Visayas were given high-quality planting materials, training, and agri-technologies.

Their incomes have increased fivefold while the company has grown sevenfold since it started the IB program. …

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