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A partner for sustainable development

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Henry Sy, Sr.

SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), one of the largest and most successful conglomerates in the Philippines, was built from the ground up by the late Henry Sy, Sr., with people who shared his strong work ethic, perseverance, sharp business acumen, and passion. And it continues to flourish, thanks to the core values of innovation and commitment to excellence that Mr. Sy so thoroughly imbued it with.

The conglomerate is invested in businesses that are dominant in their respective industries — SM Retail, Inc. in retail, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. in property, and BDO Unibank, Inc. and China Banking Corp. in finance. It ended 2017 on a great note, earning a net income of P32.9 billion, owing to its nationwide expansion and the country’s robust economic fundamentals.

“SM did well in 2017 sustaining our leadership in our core businesses anchored on our robust structure, well-placed strategy and reliable teams working together to achieve our targets and accelerate revenue growth. I remain optimistic about the medium- and long-term growth potential of SM through our investments in addition to our core businesses,” Mr. Sy, who passed away early this month, said in SMIC’s 2017 annual report.

In a joint statement in the same report, Jose T. Sio, chairman of the board, Teresita T. Sy-Coson, co-vice chairperson, and Henry T. Sy, Jr., co-vice chairperson, noted, “We benefited from a strong domestic economy buoyed by increased government spending, strong consumer spending, and sustained growth in overseas Filipino remittances.”

In 2017, the executives said they focused on building long-term success by expanding the footprint of their businesses, keeping a healthy balance sheet and delivering steady growth and efficient operations across their businesses.

But apart from being an extremely profitable enterprise, SMIC is also the country’s partner for sustainable development. “The notion that business growth and social development move on parallel tracks is integral in our vision to serve as a catalyst for development wherever we are present,” Frederic C. DyBuncio, president and chief executive officer of SMIC, said in the company’s 2017 sustainability report.

Owing to its size, the group generates tons of employment opportunities both directly and indirectly. Mr. DyBuncio said they source up to 80% of their employees from local communities, who are equipped with specialized skills, mentored so that they can build their management competencies and offered career development paths.

“Through our value chain, we engage with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) bringing them into the formal retailing sector and supporting them with business consultancy on packaging and pricing,” he said. The group, through its banks, also extends financial help to SMEs and even design products with flexible terms to match their needs.

By consulting with its different host communities, the group discovered that there are a number of factors hindering those communities from achieving self-sufficiency. These include access to basic services such as education, health care, food sufficiency and shelter. In 2017, Mr. DyBuncio said, “through the support of SM, more than 3,800 college and technical-vocational scholars achieved their dream to complete their education and secure gainful employment, both at home and abroad.”

The company has also committed itself to increasing people’s access to health care by renovating and refurbishing hundreds of health centers and other public medical facilities.

“Through SM Cares, we also continue to help reduce inequalities by raising awareness and providing services and opportunities for persons with special needs,” Mr. DyBuncio said. “Every year, we promote the rights and acceptance of children with autism and Down syndrome, along with thousands of participants and advocates nationwide.”

He continued, “In addition, the SM Markets group provides appropriate work opportunities for adults with autism through the AutiSM@Work Program.”

SM Prime, the group’s property arm, has been encouraging private and public sector collaboration to build resilient communities and businesses, in support of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Societies. It also integrates disaster-resilient features in the design of its development, helping ease the effects of climate change.

BDO, meanwhile, has taken the lead in green financing, launching the country’s first $150-million green bonds. And through the Sustainable Energy Finance program, in partnership with the International Finance Corp. and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, it expanded its portfolio to raise awareness and financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. — Francis Anthony T. Valentin