Development Entrepreneurship Mentoring Conference features Range of Policy reforms, Growing Community of Practice
October 21, 2022

The Asia Foundation, through its Coalitions for Change (CfC) program, with the support of the Australian Government, recently held the Development Entrepreneurship Mentoring Conference at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas, Pasig City.

The conference was the culmination of a successful six-month collaboration between learners and experienced policy reformers in the pursuit of policy reforms. Mentees received one-on-one guidance from their mentors and learned to identify, clarify, and pursue reform ideas using the Development Entrepreneurship approach.

The conference included breakout sessions and workshops, where mentees shared the reforms they are working on and reflected on how the mentoring program helped them navigate opportunities and challenges. The event also featured a commencement ceremony for its second cohort of mentees.

(Above) A group of mentees present the outputs of their breakout session held during the workshop on local leadership held during the Conference’s 2nd Day.

Diverse mix of policy reforms

This second cohort of mentees were comprised of development professionals from the academe, faith-based and non-government organizations, private sector, and the government. There were mentees from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), as well as from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

The mentees presented an impressive range of policy reforms:

Within National Government Agencies: improving budget access; activating policy advocacy; mainstreaming gender equality in research; monitoring and evaluation system for training; and disaster risk reduction and management for state universities.

National Level: harmonization of laws for small businesses in agriculture; introducing a “family business” category for enterprises; relocation of Sikaiana people of Solomon Islands for safety; institutional recognition of informal savings groups; and career pathways for medical imaging technologists in Papua New Guinea.

Local Level: formation of a barangay (village) health governance body; limiting plastic use in a municipality; citizen participation in the barangay procurement process; institutionalizing informal waste collectors; sustaining potable water; protecting the coral reef; adoption of a fisheries ordinance; stopping the illegal harvesting of sea cucumbers; institutionalizing rido (clan conflict) arbitration; use of data in education research to inform education policies; and developing an online socioeconomic database for local government units.

(Above) Coalitions for Change Strategic Advisor Jaime Faustino, TAF Philippines Deputy Country Representative Myn Garcia, and the Development Counsellor Thanh Le of the Australian Embassy in the Philippines present the Certificate of Completion to the mentees joining remotely from within and outside the Philippines.

Early successes

Krizelle de la Cruz, who took the Development Entrepreneurship online course, works to promote community-led management for coastal fisheries in Surigao del Sur, Philippines. Her learnings helped her harness community support and facilitate consultations with fisherfolk, community members, and the local government. The collaboration resulted in the passing of a Municipal Ordinance on coastal conservation in the province. “With the mindset of “Just Start” I took stock of our situation, ano nga ba yung meron kami? (what do we have here and now?). Today, one more ordinance has been passed in the municipality of Pilar, with the municipality of General Luna. Indeed, policy reform has allowed nature to thrive.”

Mentee Keith Jablo, Corporate Social Responsibility Lead for Ayala Foundation led the formation of a Barangay Health Governance Body in 18 barangays in the Pavia, Iloilo through a Local Executive Order. In BARMM, Angelo Tubac, Research, Knowledge Management, and Sustainability Manager of the Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao, worked to utilize data for decision-making and program development for the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education (MBHTE).

Dr. Anabelle Espadero, a mentee from the Mindanao State University Naawan whose policy reform revolved around marine conservation shared of her experience, “some of the development entrepreneurship principles that I applied during the course of my policy reform journey involved networking and building coalitions. I also practiced the “Just Start” principle that [pushed me forward] even if I had no prior experience with policy reform. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to further hone my research skills and venture in this new field of policy reform.” The real-life impacts of policy reform was underscored in many of the mentees’ policy reform journeys, Sultan Abdul Hamidullah Atar, the mentee behind the reform for the institutionalization of rido (clan confict) mediation saying, “I wish to express in behalf of the internally displaced persons in Marawi comprising 94,000 individuals that until now, [who] have been suffering for more than five years, that we wish to extend our thanks and gratitude to the Asia Foundation, and the Australian Government, for their untiring support in Marawi during 2017 up to today.”

The workshop held on the last day of the event yielded a consensus among the mentees about the power of development entrepreneurship in the pursuit of policy and activities like the mentoring program and conference. It was able to unlock the sharing of knowledge, experience, and community that will sustain and energize them as they pursue reforms.

Myn Garcia, The Asia Foundation’s Deputy Country Representative, acknowledged the growing community of practice that has organically grown from the Development Entrepreneurship online course and its accompanying mentoring program to now include the latest batch of mentees. “Although mentoring often starts with imparting technical knowledge, it expands to awaken interest and action to pursue larger interests and development issues, such as health, peace, and education. It is transformative more than it’s transactional.”

Thanh Le, Counsellor for Development of the Australian Embassy left an invitation for the mentees. “I do hope we will hear not only about the policy reforms you were able to make but also for you to ask: ‘can I join your program as a mentor?’. That to me is a great indication that this program is successful, and that
it continues to move forward.”

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