Updated: Jun 15
“This can change the world,” declared former Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco of the Philippines, referring to the system of sustainable community development he is implementing. His system is just what many are asking for to improve equality, such as JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.
Mr. Dimon wrote this in a recent memo:
“It is my fervent hope that we use this crisis as a catalyst to rebuild an economy that creates and sustains opportunity for dramatically more people, especially those that have been left behind for too long.”
He went on to say:
“An inclusive economy - one in which there is widespread access to opportunity - is a stronger, more resilient economy. This crisis must serve as a wake-up call and a call to action for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years.”
And this was before the recent protests! His comments are doubly meaningful now and have been echoed by leaders far and wide.
The Corona Crisis, along with civil unrest in the US and elsewhere, has underscored the inequality of the current “winner take all” financial system. Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One says it all right in the title. Create a new category (zero) and then turn it into a monopoly (one), the opposite of inclusion.
For me, coming from the brutally dispassionate world of financial markets, hope is a four letter word, not a strategy. (Have you ever hoped a stock higher?) You need hope to provide motivation and direction, but you need a plan of action to make hope a reality. The problem is most CEO’s, businesses, governments, economists, and just well-meaning folks do not know what to do. They have no plan, just words. Hope is good, but you need a plan of action and then you need implementation.
Former Cabinet Secretary Evasco has a plan of action, and he is implementing it. As Cabinet Secretary, Evasco worked with President Duterte to create three new free trade zones which anchor areas of economic development but with less government interference.
Then in a surprise move, Evasco quit his job as Cabinet Secretary, one of the most powerful in Philippine politics, and is implementing his private market based poverty alleviation program around the three free trade zones. Evasco is heading up the zone on Bohol Island and assisting Governor Ebdane in building the free trade zone north of Manila in the Province of Zambales.
The third designated free trade zone is in Davao in the southern island of Mindanao. Cab Sec Evasco, Professor Dominador Tupaz Jr., President, Seagate Trading Philippines, Ltd., and others made a presentation in Davao just before the Covid lockdown to Mayor Sarah Duterte requesting she work with the Cab Sec to implement the free trade zone in Davao. Mayor Sarah agreed.
Is Cab Sec exercising hyperbolic speech? Maybe.
But here is the mission statement for his program:
“To provide the system, opportunity, and infrastructure for economic, physical, educational, and cultural transformation of communities, and to turn them into sustainable communities.”
Sounds like the plan Mr. Dimon and many others are hoping for.
The specific goal of the program is to raise the average monthly Filipino family income by $500 per family and push GDP growth up to 8-9% per year. Can it be done? Yes.
So, what is Cab Sec’s system? How does it work?
The system is based on fundamental market driven economics that have been proven over time to reduce poverty. It educates and trains lower income and rural adults about how markets work, how to use them for one’s benefit, helps members design and then implement a personal family business plan. You know, the kind of stuff the top 1% are doing. The program provides training, capital, technology and market access through the CBTC, Community Business Technology Center. Families are shown how to set up and use a savings account and to become bankable.
A family may choose from 20+ small business opportunities from home stay, handicrafts, coffee, aquaculture, animal husbandry or working at the co-op among other choices.
The program has set up and is operating a co-op for organized buying of basic goods. The co-op buys wholesale in bulk. Co-op members re-package the bulk items such as rice or cooking oil into retail size packages and delivers the goods to members’ doorsteps. Basic goods prices reduced by 20-40%. Real savings to the bottom 40% of consumers. A computer based system and phone app will be added to make ordering simple and help create a large pool of users. Has the potential to create the largest online customer community in the Philippines and SE Asia that will be expanded over time to include a wide variety of products and services. This is the missing element for most on-line buying models: customers. Anyone can buy an online platform. Cab Sec’s system creates and organizes the customers.
Serving the B40 is a big opportunity which markets tend to ignore because it requires educating, organizing, and motivating people first before they are vested in the system. This is generally something markets by themselves do not do so well and governments should be doing but are not.
That is why thousands of people show up at Cab Sec's rallies and training sessions.
People are hungering for leadership and guidance on how to improve their lives and the lives of their families. They are not looking for a handout, but a way up. A path to a better life. Cab Sec’s program provides it.
Cab Sec Evasco, Governor Ebdane, Professor Tupaz, President Duterte and Mayor Sarah all see the potential and are doing.
Does the program work elsewhere? Yes, if adapted to the culture and specifics of a country. One size does not fit all.
A pilot program has been successfully completed in Bougainville.
In Malaysia, the program is focused on providing financing to small and medium sized suppliers and contractors, and is slated to finance 15,000 affordable solar homes.
So, no. I do not think Cab Sec is engaging in hyperbolic speech.
His system can change not just the Philippines, but correctly applied, other countries as well, including the United States, which seems to have lost its way as stores are looted and police stations burn to the ground.
The system increases the income for members, creates new markets, delivers affordable homes profitably. And imagine the good will engendered by implementing this system in communities? It makes the fearsome power of a $13 billion aircraft carrier pale in comparison. You must win hearts and minds with actions beneficial to people by delivering results, not just weapons or even hope. A program, an ideology, a system, must demonstrate it can produce long-term benefits to the people. Centrally planned economies have rarely demonstrated that. Free markets have delivered, but not to everyone. Cab Sec's system helps fill in the gaps that government and the free markets miss.
If you hear Jamie Dimon's call to action to invest for the common good, but also want a low risk/high return investment, then you should contact me. Seagate Global has investment opportunities supporting Cab Sec in the Philippines, and others in Malaysia and Bougainville. 9% annual return, low risk, helping people. Affordable housing. Solar energy projects. Organized buying to reduce the cost of basic goods to the bottom 40%. We call it ESG Finance.
It is now or never. Let’s use a little L.O.V.E. and turn hope into reality.
(Here is a YouTube video link to POGE Final Cut showing POGE in action:
William Lawton, email@example.com