For 27 years, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) all over the country are being empowered toward economic independence and self-reliance thanks to the livelihood opportunities provided by Bigay Buhay Multipurpose Cooperative (BBMC). As the first organization in the Philippines established by and for PWDs, BBMC has dedicated itself to helping build a community where people with and without disabilities can work and live together meaningfully.
BBMC enlists the help of various community partners in extending these holistic programs and opportunities to the sector. This year, the organization has found its first corporate partner in Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI), giving the PWDs bigger, profitable, and more long-term opportunities in their continued development and empowerment.
"As part of our commitment to running a sustainable business, we're determined to drive inclusive, holistic growth in all the communities that surround us," said Monique Castro, PCPPI Senior Manager for Corporate Affairs and Communications. "Through this partnership, we will be working with BBMC not as just a beneficiary but as part of our business ecosystem.”
Through the partnership, PCPPI will consider the BBMC as a supplier for its corporate items, trade marketing merchandise, and customized furniture and items for commercial functions across all its business units nationwide. PCPPI has currently commissioned the organization for the packaging of its Christmas giveaways this December. The bottling firm will support BBMC in providing PWDs access to skills training, micro enterprise, and employment for free through the organization’s specialized "Sustainable Economic Program for Persons with disability" (SEPP).
"Job security is a challenge for us and there still exists a stigma on PWDs and their workplace productivity," said BBMC Managing Director Richard Arceno. "Our PWDs have skills and capabilities that are often overlooked, but they can be productive members of society just like anyone else. What they need are opportunities for gainful livelihood and employment, education, and health services not just to provide them with jobs but also dignity in their pursuits."
In Manila alone, BBMC has more than 600 PWDs employed with building chairs for public schools as their main source of income. Apart from this, through a grant from US AID they also provide opportunities for entrepreneurship through sari-sari store packages. However, even with the abundance of jobs available due to the recent renewed support of local governments and establishments for PWDs, sustainable employment opportunities are limited.
"We're very grateful that PCPPI is partnering with us not just to provide our PWDs with a steady source of income but help us promote a barrier-free society," said Arceno.
Together, both entities will promote best practices and learnings on sustainable business as well as reducing incidence and prevalence of disability through their various public platforms, events, and initiatives. This includes PCPPI taking a proactive role in advocating for and promoting inclusive, disability-friendly communities across its 13 business units and to entire corporate families including its business and development partners.
Apart from these, the bottling firm will also tap its nationwide pool of volunteers to conduct and support the organization’s outreach programs such as mentoring and skills enhancement trainings, medical missions, and community-based rehabilitation activities.
PCPPI will also support BBMC's "One Chair, One Bag" project in line with its commitment to sustainable quality education. The program aims to provide quality desks and school bags with hygiene kits manufactured by PWDs to impoverished children in public schools.
"Through our collaboration we'll be contributing to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal of promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all," said Castro. "We're optimistic that by helping expand the influence of BBMC's programs, we are headed toward greater acceptance of and gainful employment for people with disabilities and their families."
(L-R: Vivian A. Cheong, PCPPI SVP for Human REsources, Richard D. Arceno, Center for Inclusive Humanitarian and Development Managing Director, Monique G. Castro, PCPPI Corporate Affairs and Communications Senior Manager, Alsee P. Bello, Bigay Buhay Multi-purpose Cooperative Chairman)