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Inclusive Business in the Philippines: harvesting the low-hanging fruits for now

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This blog was written by Ms. Felicitas R. Agoncillo-Reyes, Assistant Secretary of the Investments Promotion Group, Board of Investments-Department of Trade and Industry.

An Asian Development Bank (ADB)-commissioned market scoping study on inclusive business (IB) in the country in 2012 declares that IB is at its nascent stage – there are very few examples of companies with inclusive business models, but there is potential for growth. The country has a huge base-of-the-pyramid population (BoP, IB’s target producer and/or market segment, or those earning below the poverty threshold of $3 per day which is around 60% of the population), and the government promotes an inclusive growth agenda to share the benefits of an improving economy to this segmentof the population. But tapping business to buy into this ‘inclusive’ agenda, specifically to create jobs, and produce goods and services for the BoP, will require friendlier regulatory policies and some incentives.

In late 2013, after a series of consultations, orientation sessions and tactical discussions, the Board of Investments (BoI, under the government’s Department of Trade and Industry) took up the challenge of championing IB within government. Learning from many other initiatives in the past, BoI deemed it best to start with low hanging fruits – focus on one sector first, and build compelling stories of success around a few companies that will make it easier later to convince more companies to go IB, and more government agencies to support IB.

Thus for the past six months, BoI has been working intently with ADB to develop the eligibility criteria for IB accreditation of companies in the agribusiness sector, identify ‘pioneer’ IB companies, and work with them on non-fiscal incentives. In the months ahead, we hope to cover more sectors, and institutionalize the IB accreditation system – eventually harvesting the real fruits: more jobs and affordable relevant goods and services for the BoP.

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