London. Eleven (11) government and civil society organizations from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao dubbed as CSO Advocacy Group are currently in the United Kingdom for a Study Visit to explore how civil society groups representing social enterprises in the UK have advocated and achieved policy change and influence and how this learning can be applicable to ARMM region.
The first of its kind, this learning programme is part of Civil Society Organization – Social Enterprise and Economic Development (CSO-SEED) program, a British Council and European Union co-funded programme in the Philippines that seeks to build stronger SMEs through the promotion of social enterprise.
This program also seeks to alleviate poverty in the region. The longstanding conflict affected the development pathways of ARMM. It continues to lag behind with twice the poverty incidence (53.4%)of the national average.
Atty. Anwar Malang, Regional Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry in ARMM, lauded the program "for giving the people in ARMM the opportunity to find an alternative solution to some of the critical issues in our time. And this is also a way for us to take a strong stand that this time we will do it
The advocacy group is composed of government agencies: Department of Trade and Industry and Cooperative Development Authority; CSOs Reconciliatory Initiatives for Development Opportunities Incorporated (RIDO), and Protection, Education, and Health for Mindanaon Women and Children, Inc.( PEHMWAC), ; IP Group WORMD-Women’s Organization of Rajah Mamalu Descendants; Foundations such as Muslim Upliftment Foundation of Tawi-Tawi, Inc. (MUFTI), and Kalimudan Foundation; Business Chamber the United Moro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UMCCI); Cooperative group Atos Multi-Purpose Cooperative; and the social enterprise The Moropreneur Inc (TMI).
"It's high time that we take on social enterprise as the world is opening better opportunities in this field and at the same time it has resulted to transformation of society's economy and well-being. The formation of an advocacy group is needed to ensure there is a think tank that will spearhead the lobbyin and possible adoption of a context-based and sustainable social enterprises in the region," related by Selahuddin Yu Hashim, Executive Director of The Moropreneur Inc.
This study tour provides the opportunity for the key actors in ARMM to learn the best practices in the industry and gain insights that will help build the advocacy group. Specifically, it aims to: a) increase understanding of how civil society groups representing social enterprises in the UK have advocated and achieved policy change and influence and how this learning can be applicable in the Philippines; b) increase understanding of how government has developed policy to support social enterprises in the UK and how this learning can be relevant for the Philippines; c)build networks with civil society, social enterprise and government between the UK and the Philippines; and, d)increase understanding of how community led social enterprises have contributed to increasing community cohesion, by drawing on examples from Northern Ireland.