“As they say, don’t give a man a fish; teach him how to fish. That was the main thrust.”
Founder of PSFI and first Filipino CEO and Chairman of Shell companies in the Philippines
As a believer of long-term sustainability, Buenaventura felt the need to impart knowledge primarily to the out-of-school youth. He thought they truly were willing to work, but did not have the means to learn and develop the skills necessary to help them progress in life. Hence, Sanayan sa Kakayahang Industriyal, the pioneer programme of PSFI, was born. The programme was a fitting response to the widespread unemployment problem and growing demand for middle-level craftsmen here and overseas back in the ‘80s.
From industrial technology, PSFI ventured into agriculture through Sanayan sa Kakayahang Agrikultura. Launched in 1985, the programme, in partnership with agricultural state colleges and universities, was designed to improve farm productivity and management of lowland/upland farms through agricultural skills training.
With the decline of the sugar plantation industry, PSFI also saw the need to help Negros farmers through the introduction of cash crops. “We also supported the rebel returnee programme of the government by encouraging rebels to go back to farming,” Buenaventura recalled.
As the years passed, PSFI expanded its reach by offering technical-vocational scholarships to forecourt attendants (through Gas Mo, Bukas Ko) and dependents of public transport drivers (through Unlad sa Pasada).
Remarking on the performance of the scholars, Buenaventura thought they were fairly successful: “We found jobs for them and they eventually rose through the ranks. Some of them even became managers.” And because Shell believes in holistic development, they also underwent values formation sessions through the Leadership Enhancement and Attitude Development Workshop.
When Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. started the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project northwest of Palawan in the ‘90s, PSFI found out malaria was endemic in the province; this drove the foundation to get into health through the Kilusan Ligtas Malaria programme, now known as Movement Against Malaria. As Buenaventura recalled, “It was a small pilot project fully funded by the Malampaya joint venture partners and the foundation. It involved working with the local government and the local health office. It became so successful that it came into the attention of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which then brought us to the big leagues.”
MAM has been a successful programme that we should be very proud of. It has expanded its coverage from 5 to 40 endemic provinces by 2010 and due to favourable results, decreased to 13 by 2015. Moreover, the sustained private-public partnership in malaria control resulted in an 87% reduction in the total number of cases and 96% reduction in deaths due to malaria in the country in 2016 compared to the 2003 baseline. The programme also contributed to the Philippines achieving the Millennium Development Goal 2015 target for malaria as early as 2008.
“Now, our target is to be a malaria-free country by 2030; it’s ambitious, but hopefully, we’ll be able to achieve it,” said Buenaventura.
The commitment to sustainable development
Through its various programmes all over the Philippines, PSFI has also contributed in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in September 2015.
To date, PSFI has touched more than 13 million lives. However, its mission is far from over. There are more needs to address, more partnerships to forge, and more lives to improve.