Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP), one of the country’s most prominent businessmen today, is not only a leader who holds top positions in some of the country’s top business firms. As he currently serves as the chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the country’s largest business-led nongovernmental organization (NGO), MVP is also a leader harnessing businesses to uphold the causes of sustainable development and poverty reduction.

PBSP has been in the business of making an impact to communities since its establishment in 1970. According to its Web site, PBSP is envisioned “to lead the business sector’s efforts to reduce poverty in the Philippines”. Its mission affirms the NGO’s commitment to poverty reduction “by promoting business sector leadership in, and commitment to programs that lead to self-reliance.”

MVP shares PBSP’s belief that backs up everything it does: working together works.

“We, as PBSP, decided to subscribe to collective impact as a strategy because of one question: ‘After decades of doing tireless work with other NGOs and Government, why are we still talking about the same problems of poverty and inequity?’,” Mr. Pangilinan stated in his message in the latest annual report published by PBSP on its Web site.

Recognizing the complexity of social problems and the diversity of ways by which different sectors hope to solve them, MVP points to PBSP as a fitting partner for them to deliver those solutions.

“PBSP, through its different platforms of collective engagement or PlaCEs under each of our program areas, provide a venue to coordinate with and convene stakeholders, consolidate mutually reinforcing initiatives, co-create sustainable solutions, and consistently communicate updates and accomplishments,” Mr. Pangilinan wrote.

PBSP, which currently has 274 member-companies, forms sustainable solutions to societal problems through its programs oriented towards health, education, environment, and livelihood and enterprise development.

The health program of the PBSP aims to “contribute to the improvement of the health situation in the Philippines” through programs that seek to reduce maternal and child mortality, detect and cure tuberculosis, improve nutrition, ensure reproductive health services for women of reproductive age, and achieve universal health coverage among poor families.

PBSP’s flagship initiatives in health are tuberculosis control projects involving TB diagnostic mobile vans, mass screenings, and AI-assisted screenings; a safe motherhood caravan called “Babae: Malusog. Ligtas. Handa.”; and a supplemental feeding program dubbed as “NutriSapat, Batang Angat.”

As of the fiscal year (FY) 2017-2018, as posted on PBSP’s Web site, 6,949 drug-resistant tuberculosis cases have been notified; 9,506 women of reproductive age were provided with information on maternal, neonatal and child health and nutrition services; and 380 children under five provided with supplemental feeding.

Education is another core program of PBSP. The NGO’s program for education assists in improving the quality of education for Filipino learners, especially senior high school students.

Notably, PBSP attends to disadvantaged children through educational assistance/scholarship program, while it addresses the gap in classrooms by constructing disaster-resilient, PWD-inclusive, and gender-sensitive classrooms.

PBSP also has Bayanihang Pampaaralan, its educational platform for collective engagement. “This is focused on capability building of public schools as well as influencing systems of change to contribute to the attainment of desired education outcomes and impact,” PBSP wrote on its Web site. “This program shall enable HS graduates to be ready for work or entrepreneurship, fit for jobs or ready for college.”

The previous fiscal year witnessed 1,830 students who were provided with educational assistance/scholarship, as well as 134 constructed classrooms.

PBSP also has programs on the environment which “focuses on contributing to increase the resiliency of natural resources and enhance the ability of communities to adapt to climate change effects.”

For instance, the Buhisan Watershed reforestation project enabled PBSP and its stakeholders to plant over 200,000 trees within 600 hectares (ha) with 80% survival rate. It also has heeded the call to reforest the Marikina Watershed when it was devastated by Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. So far, its tree planting initiative in the watershed has covered 304 ha.

In addition, it has established the Water Alliance, a coalition “committed to create solutions to the water problems in the Philippines.” One of the alliance’s several accomplishments include providing 39 communities including schools with potable water systems worth P81 million through funding support from the members.

FY 2017-2018 tallied 1,136 families provided with access to safe drinking water, 17 schools provided with potable water systems, and 179 hectares of reforested watersheds.

Livelihood and enterprise development is another cause PBSP upholds through its programs focused on promoting inclusive business. Its programs promoting this particular advocacy supports agro-enterprise value chain development and improves people’s access to jobs through skills upgrading and employment facilitation.

Numbers from the previous fiscal year stated that 1,668 families were provided with livelihood, P192 million were loaned, and more than 4,000 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) benefitted from credit and non-credit services. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza