Promoting Transformational Partnerships and Women's Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN

First Women's Economic Empowerment and Social Enterprise Regional Visioning and Engagement Conference (WEE-SERVE ASIA)

Theme: "Promoting Transformational Partnerships and Women's Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN"

Date and Venue: April 19 - 22 / AIM Conference Center, Makati City, Philippines.

 

Promoting Transformational Partnerships and Women's Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN

 

Background

Many of the ASEAN countries have experienced sustained economic growth for several years now. However, such growth has not benefited the poor, including women and men small producers in various agricultural value chains. In this context, social entrepreneurship has been proposed as a strategy towards making agricultural investments contribute to transforming the lives of these women and men small scale producers.

 

ASEAN economic integration in 2015 poses both threats and opportunities for social enterprises and their small producer stakeholders in agricultural value chains. With the removal of trade barriers, social enterprise and other small producer -oriented initiatives in agriculture value chains will need to rise to the challenge of operating in a highly competitive ASEAN market that would tend to marginalize small producers.

 

There are many agriculture-focused social enterprise initiatives in various value chains in Southeast Asia but information is scant on how these have changed the lives of small producers specially women. The entry of impact investors and inclusive businesses in agriculture value chains has opened up opportunities for scaling up impact on smallholder producers. However, it has also posed conflicts and difficulties due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of the requirements for effective engagements with these smallholder producers and the role of government in providing an enabling environment and ecosystem for investments in the agricultural sector to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating poverty, addressing inequality and achieving women's empowerment.

 

These form part of the context within which the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia has pursued an initiative called Promoting Social Enterprises (PROSE) as part of a bigger project entitled Gender transformative and Responsible Agricultural Investments in Southeast Asia (GRAISEA). GRAISEA is a project led by Oxfam and supported by the Swedish Government/SIDA.

 

As part of PROSE-GRAISEA, ISEA, in partnership with Change Fusion (Thailand), Bina Swadaya and Dompet Dhuafa (Indonesia) and Center for Social Innovation Promotion (Vietnam) has developed and is in the process of conducting Country Workshops to validate and enrich "Benchmarks for Transformational Partnerships with Significant Impact on Women and Men Small Scale Producers in Agricultural Value Chains". The benchmarks are based on best practices of existing and aspiring social enterprises in agricultural value chains chosen after a rapid appraisal of significant initiatives in the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

 

The best/significant practices chosen in the four countries are:

  • Alter Trade Foundation and the Negros Organic Fair Trade Association (NOFTA) in the Muscovado Sugar Value Chain and Beyond, Philippines
  • Bote Central/Philippine Coffee Alliance in partnership with the Sultan Kudarat Coffee Ventures Inc/TRICOM and RIC Maramag, Philippines;
  • Green Net Cooperative and Earth Net Foundation‘s Fishery Project with Community Based Organizations, Thailand
  • Lemon Farm and the Association of Thai Fisherfolk Federation’s Fisherfolk Enterprise Blue Brand Initiative, Thailand
  • KSU Jatirogo’s Organic Coconut Sap Sugar Intervention, Indonesia
  • KMM’s Green Mussel Intervention, Indonesia
  • HITEACO and their Partnership with Tea Growers, Vietnam
  • DRAGON and their Intervention with Indigenous People in the Ginger and Gac Value Chains, Vietnam.

 

As its culminating activity for the project, ISEA is organize the First Women's Economic Empowerment and Social Enterprise Regional Visioning and Engagement Conference in Asia (WEE-SERVE ASIA) on April 19-22, 2017 with the theme "Promoting Transformational Partnerships and Women's Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN".

 

With the Philippines as Chair of the ASEAN in 2017, it is an opportune time for the social enterprise sector to pursue efforts to be recognized by ASEAN as a critical stakeholder in achieving the region's Sustainable Development Goals of reduced inequality and women's empowerment, decent jobs and inclusive growth, zero poverty and hunger and sustainable production, consumption and communities. In particular, ISEA hopes that the First WEESERVE ASIA could be a springboard for its efforts to meaningfully engage relevant ASEAN bodies, member states as well as the region's business community and social investors in pursuing the social enterprise sector's agenda of promoting transformational partnerships with women and men small scale producers in agricultural value chains.

 

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