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MANILA, Philippines — Last Monday, we hosted an appreciation dinner, which we organize annually to recognize our partners from the private sector and the government, to foster stronger relationships to achieve more inclusive growth for the Philippines.
Harmonious relationships between these sectors are crucial. For the last 14 years, our partner sponsors, fellow advocates, and mentors have given us their full support, and have even helped us provide greater access to mentorship, money and market.
It was a special night to set the tone for the Christmas season. It began with a couple of songs from the youngest soprano singer of the Philippine Opera Company, Alexa Isobel Kaufman,who stunned the audience with her angelic voice at a young age of 11.
Held at our residence, the thanksgiving dinner was made more special by the presence of Abdullah Macaapar, better known as the battle-tested “Commander Bravo,” who is currently a member of the interim body that will govern the new autonomous Muslim region. This was initiated as part of the peace deal to end decades of Muslim insurgency in Mindanao. Commander Bravo has, in fact, made history. From being a guerrilla leader who led the attack on the Lanao del Norte town of Kauswagan in 2008, he now has a new battle to lead – to partner with the private sector to pursue peace that can be transformed into prosperity.
In my message, I shared why we invited Commander Bravo to be with us during the special night. Whatever faith we come from, what is important is we practice it in helping the less fortunate through the blessings we have received. Commander Bravo sets an example of how one can be an instrument of change not through arms, but through unity – through joining the campaigns of our public and private organizations to achieve lasting peace through prosperity.
I, as the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship, and Go Negosyo have jointly set initiatives to support President Duterte’s vision of lasting peace in Mindanao through the implementation of development programs focused on communities vulnerable to conflict and terrorism. These include the Mindanao Development Program, which was launched in December 2016, in partnership with private sector leaders (or our “Big Brothers”) and local stakeholders in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
The Mindanao Development Program has secured more than P135 million, donated by the private sector, which has helped communities through the establishment of inclusive businesses focused on employment, food self-sufficiency, and sustainable agripreneurship in Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Lanao del Norte. Of equal significance is the establishment of model farms in the area through the help of mentors and Big Brother companies that have provided technical assistance to over 2,448 farmers. These very farmers now have thriving farms and access to direct markets for their produce.
The government has been supportive of all the initiatives for our micro and small entrepreneurs, including the programs of Go Negosyo. We are one with the government in providing additional knowledge and skills to better equip our entrepreneurs in their business success and development.
Our Negosyo for Peace program, led by one of our senior advisers, Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, has since propelled the involvement of the private sector in specific projects that have concretely improved the lives of many in the region. Kapatid Village homes have been constructed across Sulu – in Barangay Makati of Jolo, Talipao; Barangay Anuling, Patikul; Maimbung; Kalinggan-Calauang; Pata and Siasi. Kapatid Classroom buildings were also built in Maimbung, Sulu. All these showcase the invaluable contributions of the private sector as the government’s partner in achieving real, inclusive growth for the country, anchored on peace-building, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development in the region.
To date, our Negosyo for Peace programs have made a direct impact on more than 4,500 lives in communities across the provinces in the Bangsamoro. These programs are focused on nurturing trust and mutual respect for all stakeholders involved. Such that, all sides are engaged, including the armed contingents of insurgent groups such as the MNLF and MILF.
Our aim is to create more unifying relationships with private and public institutions and to help build a country that works together for a just and lasting peace. We have already served and helped many communities especially in the conflict-ridden areas in Mindanao, and we are still capable of doing more for our people.
It is our advocacy to promote not just inclusive growth to all, but also peace and wellness. We at Go Negosyo look forward to helping more Filipinos by bringing more programs to our MSMEs and our fellow kababayans. Our greater vision and goal for Go Negosyo is to see our entrepreneurs thrive and their businesses become sustainable. As we turn 15 next year, we, together with our partners, make a stronger commitment to do our very best to achieve greater prosperity. Because, in the end, prosperity is what will bring lasting peace to our proud nation.