The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is among the poorest regions in the Philippines. In the 2014 Annual Poverty Indicator's Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, ARMM registered a poverty incidence of 54%. That is twice the national average.
The British Council will lead on a new project focusing on social enterprises in the region, in partnership with the Philippine Social Enterprise Network, Foundation for a Sustainable Society and Balay Mindanaw Foundation. The project is co-financed by the European Commission.
The aim of the project will be to tackle issues such as poverty, lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitary facilities and energy, poor education outcomes and hunger through social enterprise. The project will also support development in the region, in line with the Bangsamoro Development Plan.
The potential contribution of social enterprises remains largely unrealised in the Philippines, particularly in relation to disadvantaged groups. This includes the long-term unemployed, ex-combatants, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities.
The project is designed to create a strong civil society network capable of promoting social enterprise as a viable alternative, complementing traditional livelihood models. It will also aim to build a stronger small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector.
The social enterprise approach offers a sustainable and empowering way to support inclusive economic development in the region, particularly for vulnerable groups. The social enterprise model is also well placed to address the challenges associated to job creation and decent work whilst growing a more inclusive SME sector overall.