New York-listed Dow Chemical Company is working closely with six non-profit organizations in Cebu to help address pressing local challenges. Through the company's Leadership in Action (LIA), 40 DOW employees have formed teams to work on six important projects in Cebu that seek to advance access to water, increase production of high-quality food crops, and support product commercialization, among other challenges.
The Philippines is the second country in Asia selected by the company to develop solutions to address local critical needs. The program also enables new leadership development opportunities for Dow employees and a chance for them to learn more about realities of international business and identify new business opportunities.
According to Roberto Batungbacal, director of Dow Chemical Philippines, the company picked Cebu as the beneficiary province as its dynamism represents many facets of the country's economy, whose challenges also reflect that of the entire country.
“Dow is keen to work closely with these local organizations to make real and positive changes to the Filipino communities that will benefit from this year's LIA program. We are here to see these projects to completion by carefully crafting solutions for each of the projects that will ensure a long-term inclusive growth on the local communities,” said Batungbacal.
Cebu, he noted, is the next big metropolis after Manila that is experiencing rapid economic growth across all industries. He said interventions from companies like theirs offer an opportunity to come up with long-term solutions to challenges that arise from rapid urbanization.
Last April, 40 Dow employees representing 25 sites in 16 different countries met to kick off LIA 2016. A month after, the teams started communicating with partner- organizations in Cebu virtually to begin working on their projects. A member from each team spent a week in Cebu last June, meeting with project partners.
Justine Lynn Limocon, head of the Business Development Center of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative, described the intervention of Dow employees as a “blessing” to the farming community. Dow employees helped educate farmers of Lamac Multi-Purpose Cooperative on techniques to increase the production of high-quality crops, reduce post-harvest loss and support their financial literacy. Limocon said they introduced Dow employees to the entire supply value chain so they'll better understand the plight of the farmers from pre-harvest until their produce gets to the market.
Lamac is planting organic crops and obtaining a certificate of good agricultural practice. Dow employees also shared their expertise in financial management to transform their farmers into entrepreneurs. From 70 farmers in 1973 with P3,500 in assets, the cooperative now has about 60,000 members in the Visayas with P1.3 billion in total assets.
Marloes Wigman, payroll director at Dow, said she was inspired by how Lamac values the farming community and that the team is more motivated to come up with solutions that will help the cooperative and farmers grow.
Dow employees also worked with Pagtambayayong Foundation Inc. (PFI) to establish proper branding, marketing, and packaging solutions for pork and milk products to make them competitive in the mainstream market.
Paula Fernandez, PFI's executive director, said they are grateful for the intervention of Dow employees in helping them brand their products and professionalize their operations. “They helped us look at the bigger market,” she said.
Another Dow team also worked with Cebu Technological University to develop networks with foreign universities and organizations to help graduates of the agricultural programs find work faster, as well as develop partnerships with various industries for collaborative research and product development.
Another team also extended its expertise to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) 7 to promote the production and commercialization of dried food products that are acceptable to local and export market consumers through the development of a hybrid (solar and boiler) dryer.
Dow employees also partnered with Philippine Business for Social Progress to increase access to sufficient, affordable and safe water to 50 households of Sitio Kabatbatan, on the Buhisan Watershed, for their personal consumption and to boost their ornamental plant production, which is the basis of their livelihood.
Another team also helped develop recommendations for funding sources and methodologies to assess the water quality and quantity of Tinago Creek, as a pilot for subsequent river rehabilitation throughout Cebu in partnership with University of San Carlos School of Engineering.
Dow LIA's engagement with the six non-profit organizations will continue even after the team returns to their respective countries. By November, the six organizations are expected to provide their Dow partners with tangible and sustainable results.
Dow's presence in the Philippines spans 52 years of providing solutions in agricultural services, consumer, infrastructure, performance materials and chemicals and performance plastics.
To date, 159 employees have participated in LIA, working with 29 NGOs in Accra, Ghana, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Surabaya, Indonesia.