Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fight corruption, poverty

Sun Star Cebu
February 21, 2008

COMPANIES in Cebu must fight corruption and assist marginalized sectors as part of their respective corporate social responsibility (CSR) program.

“You must undertake systematic advocacies by partnering with other stakeholders in resolving issues, like corruption, by actively shaping up regulations to guide the industry,” Nileema Noble, United Nations (UN) resident coordinator, told members of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

While many companies have included education, health and nutrition in their CSR programs, Noble urge local business stakeholders to strongly lobby for regulations to fight corrupt practices, even within private institutions, as corruption has “severely affected” the Philippine economy.

Noble was keynote speaker during the PBSP 20th Visayas Annual Membership Meeting held at the Casino EspaƱol de Cebu yesterday.

Noble said the UN is willing to partner with PBSP in fighting poverty, and promoting corporate citizenship and leadership in CSR in the private sector.


She said the UN has partnered with private organizations to realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which aims to reduce poverty and human deprivation by 2015.

“We are willing to work for a win-win situation with PBSP,” Noble said.

In her speech, she said PBSP has to establish more private-public partnerships to be able to implement more projects related to education, reproductive health and maternal deaths.

She also urged local businesses to launch a collective effort to scale up each other’s best CSR practices.

Noble said local businesses must now consider opening more business opportunities for those belonging to the “bottom of the pyramid,” which she described as a market of full potential but is generally under-utilized.

“These poor consumers usually pay far more than high-end consumers for basic commodities yet the quality of their goods and services are substandard,” she said.

Human terms

“CSR is doing business on humane terms. There should be a shift from business enterprise to duty bearers, from consumers to claim holders, from profit to human development,” Noble stressed.

PBSP Visayas executive committee chair Jose Antonio Aboitiz said the organization will undertake more CSR projects on business empowerment alongside community development, in line with the theme of this year’s annual membership meeting which is: “20/20: Looking Ahead.”

PBSP is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting business sector commitment to social development and poverty alleviation. It was organized in 1970 and was launched locally in 1988.

It has 235 member companies nationwide and at least 100 have operations in the Visayas region, covering different sectors like oil firms, real estate, malls, food and beverage, banks and telecommunications, among others.

Since 1987, PBSP Visayas has implemented 1,279 projects worth more than P453 million that benefited more than 41,000 households. (MMM)