Is big business the solution to the country’s big problems?


Big business has often been scapegoat for some of our big problems but clearly, the perception is changing. Today, big business has endeavored to be part of the solution instead.

Using its infrastructure and expertise at creating products that the market wants, big business is now finding ways to solve gut problems like malnutrition and poverty.

Century Pacific Group is one such company. Employing the same skill and know-how that allows it to bring brands like Century Tuna, 555 Sardines and Argentina Corned Beef to the market, the company decided to embark on a feeding program that delivered 1.2 million meals nationwide in 2011 alone.

It is a remarkable feat, considering the company initially targeted 300,000 meals to serve disadvantaged children. It raised its target to 1M mid-year and then went on to exceed its own ramped-up goals by another 200,000 by year’s end.

While corporate social responsibility programs are nothing new, the concept of big business working beyond its bottom line has been given fresh impetus by the Clinton Global Initiative. Led by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Initiative aims to empower global leaders to “forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.”

According to its website, “Traditional approaches to aid are not enough to address the great global challenges of our time. Market-based solutions show incredible promise to solve these daunting problems on a systemic and widespread level.”

Hunger is certainly one such challenge. In a survey late last year, the Social Weather Station revealed that 4.5 million Filipino families went hungry. Those who experienced “severe hunger” during the last quarter of 2011 rose from 2.5 to 4.7 percent, while hunger rose in families who considered themselves “food-poor,” from 31.1 percent to 38.1 percent.

Which is why the Century Pacific Group is now expanding its feeding program to incorporate an education component. “[We hope] to grow it in 2012 to include not just meals but tie them to in school feeding programs because we believe not only in incentivizing those children who otherwise cannot come to school but those who do not perform well in school due to hunger,” said the company in a statement.

Century founder and foundation head Ricardo S. Po, Sr. has also enjoined employees, volunteers and stakeholders to become a part of the solution. As he once said, “If a poor boy like myself can make a difference, I am sure that many of our young men and women can eventually make an even bigger difference in our community.”

Century won’t be the last company to respond to the call for help on a scale proportionate to its resources. It will join other local enterprises in finding ways to make big business the future of lasting and meaningful solutions to our nation’s challenges.

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