SM’s growth is for inclusiveness and sustainability

 

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

A wrong perception about SM’s steady growth in the market is that it kills micro small and medium enterprises. But SM’s vision is exactly the opposite—to include as many MSMEs and create more opportunities for all sectors, particularly those in the remote areas-- even in places where it has yet to operate.

 

Inclusivity for all is not just a marching order for the SM Group of Companies, but a work in progress alongside its goal of sustainable operations.

 

As Engr. Ramon Gil Macapagal, corporate affairs head and trustee of SM Foundation Inc., said at the League of CSR Foundation last Thursday “SM wants to grow but a growth that will help create jobs and income for many whose livelihoods are linked to its success—the shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers and communities.”

 

SM through its various Foundations have goals that were already in significant alignment with the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) even before they were set. For the next 15 years, SM will focus and continue to align itself with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

 

As for the UN Global Compact 10, he noted that many responsible Philippine companies have long been adhering to the UNGC principles under their Code of Business principles and Code of Ethics or Governance. “Most, if not all, 10 principles are also covered by our International and local Laws where companies are but expected to abide or comply.”

 

5 Focus areas

 

Through 5 focus areas—education, health and well-being farmers’ training, environmental sustainability and financial services-- SM has committed itself to contribute to as many SDG goals as possible, through the programs and activities of its various foundation such as SM Foundation, BDO Foundation, Henry Sy Foundation and the Felicidad Sy Foundation, and augmented by the corporate social responsibility programs of SM subsidiaries.

 

“From our vantage point, we see the need for focused investments in four critical areas that are key to attain inclusive and sustained growth for the country,” he said.

 

These areas are: 1) Development of critical infrastructures like roads, water systems and power supplies and telecommunications; 2) development of human capital through technical and vocational training for the youth so they can become employable and productive members of the community; 3) creation of local jobs in diverse sectors, particularly in the countryside targeting Filipino farmers to achieve food security and creating economic opportunity for them being the largest group in the population and 4) establishment of reliable social safety nets for food sufficiency, universal health care, quality public education and basic services like access to clean water, affordable shelter and power, among others.

 

Portfolio investment

 

“As our companies are substantially invested in banking, retail, property development and logistics, we aim to   create a synergy of services to help jumpstart economic growth by establishing a network of strong local economies. This then can create a web that trickles down economic activities and benefits to the most remote areas of the country,” Macapagal stressed.

To do this, “we must create a portfolio of businesses that would not only be successful in the market but can also provide some of the basic services. This serves as a foundation to build economic activity at the local level.”

 

Also, “we identify important indicators that matters and can directly contribute to the communities we serve by leveraging on our resources.”

 

Wherever SM builds a mall or a store, it creates job opportunities both directly and indirectly. Today, we create more than hundreds and thousands of jobs directly and indirectly, he said.

 

The company also promotes inclusive supply chains by introducing micro-small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in formal retailing. Currently, we engage more than 1,400 small and medium enterprises.  A classic example is SM’s turon (banana lumpia) which is now referred to as the national snack.       

 

Lifestyle cities

 

By building lifestyle cities, SM promotes infrastructure development through accessibility. Examples are Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City, Seaside City in Ceby, SM Lanang in Davao, SM Clark in Pampanga and SM North EDSA in Quezon City.

 

SM also provides access to financial services for its diverse customers, particularly the unbanked. SM also provides access to green financing.

 

Disaster Resilience

 

Macapagal said SM is a staunch advocate and implementor of disaster resilient communities, particularly since the country is visited by at least 20 cyclones a year in addition to fires and earthquakes.

               

The SM group led by Hans Sy (SM Prime Holdings) “refuses to allow our company and our country to be a perennial victim of such calamities. He has passionately led an all-out campaign on Disaster Preparedness and Resiliency and the formation of the United Nations ARISE Philippines which supports the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), a private sector alliance for a disaster resilient.”

 

For that matter, SM has been allotting an additional 10 percent in capital investment to integrate disaster resilient features in our current and future projects.

 

Green initiatives

 

 SM had also installed solar energy power and use energy efficient technologies in its malls.

 

SM has also been recycling 5.6 million cubic meters of water equivalent to about 2,231 Olympic-size swimming pools.

 

On marine protection, the Group has facilitated the protection of 3 marine areas, 10 hectares of mangroves, 468 unique whales, 82 bird species and more than 80 Oliver Ridley Turtles hatchlings.)

 

Social initiatives

 

Through the SM Cares program, the company had been promoting social inclusion by providing opportunities for the disabled (like deaf and blind), creating jobs for senior citizens and adult with autism and raising awareness on the rights of children with special needs, aside from staunchly promoting breastfeeding inside malls.

 

It also provides access to basic social services like education, health care, food sufficiency and housing through our various foundations. It had given over 9,000 colleges and tec-voc scholarship grants, built 450 classrooms, renovated 144 public health and medical facilities to meet Philhealth accreditation.

 

The foundation had served around 1 million patients, trained over 23,000 farmers and built 1,000 houses for the victims of Haiyan and financed the rebuilding of the Tacloban Hospital

 

It also contributes to government income by proper tax payments, serving as top taxpayer in 30 cities.

 

To help in the anti-corruption initiatives of government, SM undertook a project with the Philippine National Police, the RONMEDS system, to improve the robustness of the recruitment process for the Philippine National Police recruits.

 

Overall, SM group strive and uphold itself to the highest standard of corporate behavior and good governance.

 

“It is but fitting and proper therefore that we accept UNGC's invitation and affirm our companies’ adherence to the UNGC's 10 principles. Together with the local UNGC country leadership we aim to strategically influence and support the other businesses to do the same,” Macapagal said.

 

SM’s commitment to sustainability stems from the very heart of its founder, Henry Sy, Sr.  The guiding principle of its patriarch is that social development goes hand in hand with business growth.

 

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