The JGF President’s 10th Year Anniversary Message
Good morning and happy New Year to everyone! I am pleased to report to you what the Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) has done, in its first decade.
The Foundation Board of Trustees has defined the alleviation of poverty as JGF’s mission, and identified three program areas that can have real impact in addressing the poverty issue. These are education, agriculture and disaster relief plus rehabilitation. The Board also believed that our programs should be food related for them to anchor on the core strength and competency of the company, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC).
This kind of work needs people with true passion as there is no sales target to motivate us or stock price to excite us. We deal with real and solid challenges, but the results are not immediately tangible. Who knew how hard it would be to give money away? But it is, when you want to help in an effective and sustainable way with limited resources, through relevant and impactful programs. It could be difficult, tricky and actually needs lots of patience!
I certainly agree with the popular belief of “teach a man to fish” which is long term, rather than “give him fish” which is short term”. However, I was surprised to learn that the drop-out rate among public school pupils is highest in the early grades. The most common and very shocking reason is HUNGER. Moreover, when these kids drop out, there is a very slim chance that they will go back to formal school. So with these young kids, you have to literally give them fish first, before they can learn how to fish.
This was how the Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) School Feeding was born in 2007 as our Education program to keep kids in school and to learn better. BLT has grown to reach more than 1,000 schools nationwide, feeding almost 200,000 pupils. It is the largest private-sector led systematic school feeding program in the country. Moreover, it has the important component of mobilizing community ownership of the program for sustainability.
Our experience in empowering communities led us to take on helping our smallholder farmers in 2008 with local government and NGO partners on the ground. Through the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program or FEP, around 60% of JFC’s onion requirements during peak onion season are sourced directly from smallholder farmers, as well as other fresher, high quality vegetables. This not only helps hundreds of farmers gain a steady market for their produce but they also learn how to make farming a business. What’s really inspiring is that this also encourages the younger members of their communities to work on the farm.
I have to specially thank Mr. Senen Bacani for his guidance in FEP. Thank you also to the JFC Purchasing and Supply chain teams. They painstakingly did the handholding of our farmers enabling some to increase their income by 300%. More importantly, it rekindled their pride as farmers. Worth noting is FEP has gained a lot of prominence as an inclusive business model to be emulated.
Our disaster relief and rehabilitation work is done through our FoodAid Program. We provide relief goods and operate mobile kitchen to serve hot congee in calamity areas. We acknowledge the skilful efforts of our commissary team that took the lead in the development of the congee mix and the first implementation of the mobile kitchen during Yolanda relief work. Our rehabilitation efforts are all linked to BLT and FEP such as massive school feeding and helping calamity affected farmers.
Our other programs include scholarship support, brigada eskwela and tree planting activities which succeeded because of the enthusiastic participation of JFC employee volunteers.
Together, we have achieved some milestones with our programs and overcome different challenges. We are happy to see what our giving back had done so far. Yet there is still a long journey ahead. Our daughter who designed the Foundation logo, explained that the stones in the logo represent the stepping stones to support our work along the journey. She drew a friendly hill, not a formidable mountain to inspire us to carry on with the climb. And the sun will always shine to give all of us the energy to aspire and transform for a better tomorrow.
On our 10th year, I’m confident that we are all inspired to do more. One of our next targets is for all of us to work together, to communicate to our customers, that the company is spreading the joy of eating, not only through our business, but through our sustainable corporate social responsibility programs. We can be sure that our customers will appreciate that they are patronizing a company that also embraced improving lives and communities as part of its business agenda. In so doing, we can generate more support and involvement, and in the process, help more communities.
The past 10 years has also been a special personal journey for me. I am very grateful for all your support in allowing me to be touched and inspired by this work in ways I had not imagined before.
In closing, let me thank the Trustees and staff of the Foundation, the Directors and executives of JFC, our employees and franchisees, and all the donors and volunteers for their passion in supporting the work of the Foundation. The past decade has made us more and more aware of one thing — that in the over-all scheme of things, it is only when we mindfully help our communities and our less fortunate countrymen progress, that the existence of our business can be truly meaningful and beautiful.
Here’s to more years of JGF! Thank you.