Focus Area: Rural Entrepreneurship

Responsible Business Forum on Food and Agriculture

Global Initiatives organizes annual forums on responsible business and in 2015 held the Responsible Business Forum on Food and Agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam. Under the theme ‘ASEAN Beyond 2015: Collaboration for Equitable Growth’, the forum convened more than 350 leaders from business, government, scientific research institutes and NGO communities, to discuss the future sustainability of aquaculture, coffee, dairy, maize, rice and tea value chains. ASSIST ran a workshop for Global Initiatives, facilitating the formulation of action points and next steps for these agriculture products.


ASSIST’s working group at this forum produced actionable recommendations for successful public-private partnerships, increasing productivity, improving rural livelihoods, reducing poverty, and reducing environmental impacts. A key highlight of the form is a dialogue with ASEAN government Ministers on sustainable agriculture and boosting productivity in Southeast Asia.

Micro-Enterprises Access to Banking Services (MABS) – Digitization of Learning Content

It is shown that limited access to financial services constrains economic growth in the Philippines. This is especially true for lower socio-economic groups, including microenterprises, which must then turn to moneylenders, pawnshops or lending investors for credit instead of formal institutions for credit. USAID’s Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program targets these lower socio-economic groups and micro-entrepreneurs by working with rural banks to reach such groups in a profitable, but equitable, manner.


ASSIST with support from USAID implemented the “Micro-Enterprises Access to Banking Services (MABS) – Digitization of Learning Content” project, with the aim to accelerate national economic transformation by encouraging the Philippine rural banking industry to significantly expand access to microfinance services. They were tasked to expand the provision of financial services, both lending and deposit mobilization, to micro-entrepreneurs and other groups at the lower socio-economic levels in the Philippines through existing networks of rural and cooperative rural banks.


The project was able to achieve the development of distance learning modules, results-based training courses for staff of MABS participating rural banks and made these available both online and on CDs. It also created seven distance learning course materials in both CD and online format and microfinance officers of 350 rural banks acquired necessary technical knowledge and skills to carry out their jobs.