AUSTRALIA ENCOURAGES PRIVATE SECTOR TO HELP REDUCE POVERTY IN THE PHILIPPINES
Davao City – The private sector in the Philippines can now bid for Australian Government-funded grants through the Enterprise Challenge Fund (ECF) for the Pacific and South East Asia.
The fund, managed by Australia’s international aid agency AusAID, provides grants for developing successful business ideas which improve people’s livelihoods, incomes, and access to vital goods and services.
Through open competition, grants ranging from US$85,000 to US$1.3million (approximately Php 4 to 57 million) will be awarded to business projects which directly address the challenge of broad-based economic growth – the type of growth which lifts people out of poverty.
The target area is the southern Philippines, particularly parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.
At the Philippine launch of the Fund Davao City on 04 October, AusAID’s Counsellor in the Philippines, Sam Zappia said, “Australia would like to see the private sector in the Philippines taking advantage of new and emerging opportunities – which can create lasting jobs, improve incomes, increase access to vital goods and services and stimulate the local economy.”
“For this reason Australia has established the Enterprise Challenge Fund – to assist the private sector overcome external obstacles to otherwise commercially viable projects which benefit a wide range of people especially the poor”, Mr Zappia said.
Similar grant schemes in other parts of the world have achieved good outcomes. In South Africa, a grant from Britain’s Enterprise Challenge Fund allowed a fruit operation to establish an export label for local fruit growers. Through a “fair trade” export brand, more than 500 farmers were given better opportunities for increased productivity and access to the export market. In just a few years, their products are now being exported to markets in the UK, Europe, Far East, Middle East and the USA.
Australia’s ECF is designed to share risk and at least 50% of the cost of project must be met by the bidder. Bidders must also demonstrate that the project will be commercially sustainable and would not be implemented without the assistance of the grant.
Australia will provide funding of over US$17 million (approx Php 800 million) in the next six years to support projects in PNG, Fiji, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Funds will be allocated across the region on a competitive basis, according the merits of the specific proposals.