Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Private firms tap communities as partners, suppliers

Private firms tap communities as partners, suppliers
By Cris Evert B. Lato
Cebu Daily News
November 9, 2011

What do world-renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue’s Interior Crafts of the Island Inc. (ICI) and Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. have in common?

Both firms have partnered with Strategic Corporate-Community Partnership for Local Development (SCOPE) to fill up their subcontractor and manpower needs.

SCOPE is a program of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which aims to get the private sector involved in partnership  the communities  to alleviate poverty.

“SCOPE has been designed to harness private sector’s competence and expertise in doing business to create employment and income opportunities for Filipino men and women,” said Cebu-based SCOPE consultant Janina Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth, who is working with the program for close to two years, said SCOPE’s thrust is to help Philippine-based companies identify opportunities to embed local producer groups as suppliers of services or semiprocessed goods.

This setup creates sustainable and mutually beneficial partnership between the company and community.

Jana Franke, another SCOPE consultant based in Manila since 2006, said they have implemented 36 projects under the SCOPE program in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Interior Crafts of the Island Inc. (ICI), the company run by world-renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, partnered with SCOPE and implemented an enterprise development project in Cebu.

For years, Cobonpue has been assisting a social sewing center composed of out-of-school boys. They sew bags and T-shirts for no particular market. Cobonpue realized that the sewing center can be turned into a reliable upholstery subcontractor.

Young boys were professionally trained in upholstery and is now serving as ICI’s subcontractor for four years. The sewing center has since named itself to Filo d’ Oro (golden thread).

“The boys are professionals whose works are exported to different parts of the world, used by well-respected people. They have developed themselves for the better,” said Filo d’Oro co-founder Eleuterio Bravo.

Another example is a welding project implemented with the Philippine Associated Smelting and Refining Corp. (PASAR) in Isabel, Leyte.

With its aging workforce, it is now in need of young welders, pipefitters and electricians to substitute more than 30 workers who will retire in the next two to three years.

PASAR partnered with the local government of Isabel, Visayan State University, Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to craft a comprehensive training project for the 38 trainees.

Eleven of the 38 trainees are women, whose welding skills are preferred because of their fine works and attention to detail. Twenty of these trainees are currently undergoing on-the-job training for the regular plant shutdown of PASAR.

PBSP vice chairman Philip Tan said SCOPE creates the venue for companies to rethink about the way they approach corporate social responsibility.

“The common practice is to give doleouts but to ensure that these people become self-reliant, we should open channels for them to earn a living in the long term,” said Tan, also president of Wellmade Motors and Development Corporation.