Step Up Journeys with CCT Group of Ministries in Planning for the New Normal

Step Up Consulting will accompany the CCT Group of Ministries in their planning journey for 2021-2025, adjusting their ways of working to the changing realities brought about by the pandemic and other factors impacting on individuals, families, and communities. The planning process will commence in July with 30 online workshops planned for the local area offices of CCT across the country that will run until October this year.

The Center for Community Transformation Group of Ministries (CCT) is committed to creating lasting wholistic change among the poor. Founded in 1991, CCT has implemented programs and projects directed towards change individual lives, strengthening families, empowering communities and helping transform the nation. 

The CCT GROUP is composed of 16 ministry cooperatives and non-government organizations, each with its own Board of Trustees/Directors, management and staff.  The ministries serve specific poverty groups:  street families, children, youth, micro-entrepreneurs, landless and small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, factory workers, informal workers, tribespeople and the communities-at-large.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Step Up has been conducting online workshops, consultations, as well as training for different clients globally. However, this is one of the longest online journey commitment that Step Up’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares, will lead this year, using different online tools to create a memorable and productive online workshop experience.

Mr. Canares has worked with the CCT Group of Ministries in the past, more particularly during the Board leadership retreat as well as with the Visions of Hope Christian School, one of CCT’s ministries. Ms. Ruth Callanta, CCT’s multi-awarded president, requested Mr. Canares to lead this process along with a team of committed experts from within CCT family.

Mentoring for Open Contracting Research

On 24 June 2020, Step Up Strategy Advisor Michael Canares facilitated a research presentation of seven researchers from Notre Dame of Marbel University who used open contracting data to analyse procurement performance of the Provincial Government of South Cotabato. Mr. Canares led a team of mentors who trained and coached the researchers in undertaking research projects on public procurement. The project, dubbed as the First South Cotabato Open Contracting Research Challenge, was implemented by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines with funding support from HIVOS.

The research projects were as follows:

Team 1-Forecasting Contractors’ Slippage for Infrastructure Projects in South Cotabato, by Cubort Bulanon and Chucky Marie Fernandez

Team 2- Finding Areas Underserved by High Schools in South Cotabato Using Network Analysis by Elisha Alvarado

Team 3 – Analysing Cost Efficiency of Procurement by Lot, by Michelle Capistrano

Team 4 – Profiling Contractor Performance of Contractors in the Province of South Cotabato, by Denver John Acebedo, Neiljan Raborar, and Fritz Tuazon

The research teams were identified in February this year and were trained through a Research Boot Camp held in General Santos City on March 11-13, 2020. The researchers then conducted research implementation from March to May this year, despite the pandemic. Luckily, the province of South Cotabato was least affected by COVID 19, allowing the researchers to conduct field implementation using both offline and online means.

Mr Canares mentored Teams 3 and 4, while Team 1 was mentored by Layertech Software Labs CEO Frei Sangil and Team 2 by Ben Hur Pintor, geospatial generalist, open-source and open data advocate, and maptivist.

Step Up Strategy Advisor is M&E Advisor for Vanuatu Roads Project

Image courtesy of Adam Smith International

Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor at Step Up Consulting is part of the implementation team of the Roads for Development Program Phase 2 (R4D2) currently implemented in Vanuatu by Adam Smith International, with funding support by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

R4D2 will support the Government of Vanuatu’s Public Works Department (PWD) under the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU).  The program commenced in June 2019 and will run to the end of June 2022, with an option to extend by two years, subject to DFAT approval. The program aims to contribute to the achievement of the Government of Vanuatu’s (GoV) National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030 (NSDP) goals, more particularly the following:

  • A dynamic public sector with good governance principles and strong institutions delivering support and services to all citizens of Vanuatu
  • Sustainable and well-maintained infrastructure and services for all, through inclusive and effective partnerships

Mr. Canares is R4D2’s short-term Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser.

Step Up Completes Regional Cultural Hub Feasibility Study

Step Up Consulting recently completed the feasibility study of establishing a regional cultural hub for the Visayas. The research seeks to determine the viability and sustainability of a permanent center and venue of productions and creative enterprises in the Central Visayas region.

The feasibility study focused on the five key aspects – market, technical, organizational, financial and socio-economic feasibility. Conducted in 2019, it involved different approaches: a combination of survey, focus group discussion or key informant interview, ocular inspection and site visits, and evaluation of documentary evidence.

The research team of Step Up is composed of Michael Canares, Jean Celeste Paredes and Mary Therese Pepito with the support of Marilou Sale. It was funded through a grant from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts managed by the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation.

Step Up Conducts Project Development and Management Training for Iloilo LEIPOs

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The Provincial Government of Iloilo, through its Local Economic Development and Investment Promotions Center, invited Step Up Consulting to train more than 40 of its Local Economic and Investment Promotions Officers (LEIPOs) on project development and management. The training, which was held at the Century 21 Hotel in Iloilo City last 29-30 July 2019, aimed to build the capacity of the LEIPOs in applying project management and development concepts to local government projects and initiatives.

More specifically, the training aimed to enable the LEIPOs to understand, define, and clearly explain what is project development and management; understand the role of project managers, specifically in the local government scenario; identify the key activities in the project life cycle; learn the knowledge areas of project management, and identify what strategies can be used in each project management knowledge area; and know what is a project charter and how to develop one for their own projects in each LGU.

Step Up Wins HIVOS Contract to Study Open Contracting in 4 Countries

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Open Contracting and OCDS (Image taken from https://openprocurement.io/en/ocds

Step Up Consulting was awarded a research contract by HIVOS, a development organization headquartered in the Netherlands, to undertake a research project to understand how open contracting reforms and increased availability of contract data can be used to realize results and benefits for specific, historically marginalized groups external to government.

Step Up Consulting is one of the several firms considered to undertake the research but got the final nod of the HIVOS review panel based on the strength of its proposal and the quality of the composition of its research team. The research will be conducted in Kenya and Nigeria in Africa, and Indonesia and the Philippines in Asia.

For this research, Step Up’s team is composed of Michael Canares, strategy advisor, as research lead and Francois Van Schalkwyk, a long-time collaborator of Mr. Canares, along with Fiona Smith and Ana Brandusescu as review panel.  The research will run from July 2019 to January 2020.

The research, using a case study approach, aims to identify and assess ways in which key aspects of open contracting reforms did or did not lead to circumstances where open contracting resulted in increased equality and inclusion in public contracting processes. More particularly, the research would like to answer the following questions:

  1. How can open contracting reforms and increased availability of contract data be used to realise results and benefits for specific, historically marginalised groups external to government? 
  2. What contextual and programmatic aspects in open contracting contribute to achieving meaningful results and benefits for these marginalised groups? 
  3. What do specific, historically marginalised stakeholders experience as significant barriers/impediments to achieving the desired results and benefits?

Step Up Facilitates OGP Commitment Design Workshop for the Philippine Government

IMG_20190416_114217Step Up Consulting Strategy Advisor Michael P. Canares led the design and facilitation of the Philippine Government’s commitment design workshop as part of the several processes in formulating its National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership.

The Philippines is a pioneering member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multilateral initiative that aims to promote transparent, accountable, participatory, and responsive governance.

The workshop gathered several representatives from national government agencies and civil society organizations to dissect and analyze two Philippine government commitments – the Digital Imaging for Monitoring and Evaluation (DIME) proposed by the Department of Budget and Management, and the commitment on Open Contracting, proposed by the Government Procurement Policy Board.

The workshop was held at the DBM Conference Room in Manila last 15-16 April 2019 and supported by OGP Support Unit‘s team based in Asia Pacific lead by Shreya Basu.

Step Up Writes Labour Market Assessment for the Rakhine State

ILO reportMichael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting was tasked by the International Labour Organization to write a consolidated report that looks into the opportunities and challenges of labour market development in the Rakhine State in Myanmar.  The report that Mr. Canares wrote, together with his team at Step Up was based on primary field work that was conducted by Synergia Consulting and Training and Myanmar Survey Research.

The report, entitled “Rakhine State Labour Market:  Assessing Assets, Projecting Demands, and Identifying Areas for Intervention” looked into current and projected demand for labour skills in the Rakhine state, quality and quantity of labour supply in the area, and potential areas for intervention to strenthen labour market quality and labour to industry matching processes.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates LOGIN General Assembly in Bangkok

DSC_8511Step Up strategy advisor Michael Canares facilitated the Local Governance Initiative and Network (LOGIN) General Assembly held in Bangkok Thailand on April 2-4 2019 at the Renaissance Hotel. The workshop was attended by more than a hundred participants coming from several countries in the Asia Pacific region and other representatives and guests from Europe.

LOGIN is a multi-stakeholder knowledge network connecting state and non-state actors to promote a culture of learning and exchange on decentralization and local governance, more particularly in South and East Asia.  Organized in 2007, LOGIN’s members include government officials, elected parliamentarians, non-governmental and international organizations. It aims to capacitate local institutions in participatory, accountable, inclusive, and citizen-responsive governance.

Spanning 12 countries, LOGIN’s membership includes elected representatives, training institutions, think tanks, government departments, non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, among others. It aims to capacitate local institutions in participatory, accountable, inclusive, and citizen-responsive governance.

Mr. Canares leads the design and facilitation of the 3-day activity.  He was joined by Suresh Raghavan of India as co-facilitator.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates ASEAN Workshop

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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions (ASEANSAI) and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) held a joint conference last 26 February 2016 with the theme “Laying the Foundation for Future Cooperation in Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the ASEAN”.

The workshop was held at the Sheraton Grand Jakarta Gandaria City Hotel, Indonesia and was attended in by almost 100 participants from 14 countries coming from within and outside the ASEAN. Mr. Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting was hired by GIZ to help design and facilitate the whole day event.

The event was spearheaded by ASEANSAI, a relatively young regional organisation of ten audit offices in the ASEAN region and supported by GIZ.  The event intended to bring together the three organizations  (ASEAN, ASEANSAI and AIPA) to explore more coordinated framework for future joint action and inter-agency collaboration for fostering state-society relationships in ASEAN, including efforts towards Good Governance, transparency and accountability.