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Holy Name University held its university days last February 13-18 2018 with the theme “Honoring Traditions, Celebrating Milestones”. Step Up strategy advisor, Mr. Michael Canares was invited to keynote the Academic Forum held at HNU Main Campus on 15 February 2018. The theme of the academic forum was “Realizing Dreams of Financial Stability”.
Mr. Canares dedicated his well-received talk to Atty. Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green, his teacher in both accountancy and law school. Atty. Mia, who died a gruesome death on 15 February 2017, exactly a year ago, is one of the university’s esteemed professors. In his talk, Mr. Canares emphasized on key strategic and operational financial skills that every person should possess to ensure not only financial stability, but more importantly, financial sustainability.
The academic forum was attended by close to 200 university faculty members and staff. It can be recalled that Mr. Canares has also taught in the university for 10 years. His teaching stint was capped by the Most Outstanding Finance Educator of the Philippines award conferred to him by the Central Bank of the Philippines, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, and Citibank.
PROCESS Bohol, Inc., commissioned Step Up Consulting to train its community leaders in Ubay, Bohol the basics of financial management. The training, attended by more than 30 community leaders, was intended to assist the organizations manage their enterprises better and prepare them for eventual phase-out of PROCESS support.
Step Up has more than 10 years of conducting community-based trainings with different audiences – farmers, women micro-entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and local government leaders. It uses participatory approaches in conducting its capacity building programs and makes use of “games” in order to “teach concepts”. As one of the women leaders in this training remarked – “It is the first time that I understood complex financial management concepts in an easy, phased way”.
In the training, Step Up taught the community leaders the basics of enterprise management, how credit management is critical to business operations, and the different steps in ensuring that business decisions can be made based on available financial data.
Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Bohol United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC) to conduct a risk management training for its assisted entrepreneurs and entrepreneur groups last 28-29 November 2014. The training was conducted at the FCB Foundation Training in Tagbilaran City and was attended by more than 20 participants coming from different organizations and from different parts of Bohol.
Risk management is one of the key expertise of Step Up’s financial management division. As a process to ensure achievement of company objectives, risk management is about the identification and evaluation of company risks with the intention of avoiding these risks or managing them to minimize impact. In recent years, risk management is at the core of management function and has been used also in ensuring better internal audit and internal control.
The training was conducted by Arlen Salgados-Canares, Step Up’s lead consultant for financial services.
After five successful and profitable years of operation, the Rural Bank of Loboc, Inc. has grown in an unprecedented pace and achieved a set of financial indicators that speak of the bank’s operational sustainability. To revisit its directions and chart a new set of goals to 2020, the Board of Directors hired Step Up Consulting to facilitate the process to assist them in looking at their bank operations and plan for the next six years.
As a culminating event, a workshop was held at the bank’s office in Loboc, Bohol on 9 November 2014. The workshop was attended by 5 of its board of directors, one bank consultant, and all members of the staff. The workshop resulted to a strategic plan that the Board will pursue to 2020.
The Rural Bank of Loboc was conceptualized in early 2004 as a major component of The Grand Dreams for the Development of Loboc. This dream, which served as a guide for the administration of Mayor Calipusan, focused on key priority areas labeled as LITHOPE – which stands for livelihood, infrastructure, tourism, health, organizational strengthening, peace and order, and education. The idea then was to revive a previous proposal of converting the credit cooperative into a rural bank to finance development initiatives in the municipality. If this would not work, it was planned that local Lobocanons will be organized to set up a bank that would serve the town’s financing needs for agriculture, small and medium-scale enterprises, and other productive activities, with the end view of promoting economic growth and development of Loboc and the economic empowerment of the Lobocanons. The second route was decided as the most viable option.
To date, the Rural Bank of Loboc serves the financing needs of the town of Loboc and nearby municipalities.
The Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC) contracted Step Up Consulting to conduct a series of financial management training for its member organizations, assisted cooperatives, individual entrepreneurs, and people’s associations . The training on Basic Financial Management was conducted last 27-28 August 2014 at the FCB Foundation training room.
The training is the first of a series of training activities on financial management sponsored by BUSWACC. Ms. Arlen Canares, training specialist on financial management of Step Up was the resource person for the activity.
The participants appreciated the learning sessions that focused on the importance of recording, financial analysis, cash management, and internal control. The workshop employed a variety of training methodologies that enabled the participants not only to learn the concepts but also try specific skills on their own. Financial management training is one of the core expertise of the firm.
A training on Fiduciary Risk Assessment on the Use of Financial and Procurement Systems for PRMF Funds was conducted on June 4-7, 2013 at The Gardens, in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. The training was attended by representatives from the different road-sector related offices of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon, more particulary, the Provincial Engineer’s Office, Provincial General Services Office, Provincial Budget Office, Provincial Treasurer’s Office, Provincial Planning and Development Office, Provincial Internal Audit Services Office, Provincial Accountant’s Office, Provincial Legal Office, the Provincial Human Resource Management and Development Office, and the Bids and Awards Committee Secretariat.
The objective of the engagement is to improve the capacities of the Provincial Government of Bukidnon on risk assessment particularly fiduciary risk and determine measures or treatments that could be implemented to reduce the impact of the fiduciary risks.
Managing Consultant of Step Up Consulting was the resource person for the said training. The participants expressed high satisfaction of the results of the training. As customary, evaluation sheets were distributed to participants where they rated their experience in term of three areas – content, process and facilitator. The ratings indicated that the content is applicable to the workplace of the participants, that there is appropriate amount of information discussed in the workshop, and that the knowledge they have learned are new to them. They also said that they were able to fully participate in the sessions, discuss and form their ideas, and that they are eager to apply their learning when they go back to their work stations.
Capacity building is one of the strongest areas of Step Up’s services. As expected, the participants commented that the learning facilitator managed the learning process and time well, that he relayed the knowledge to participants in an understandable and clear manner. Mr. Canares was also seen as very responsive to participants questions and flexible enough to adapt to the learning temperament of participants.
Step Up Consulting Services held its pre-New Year party last 29 December 2012 at the Villa Alzhun Tourist Inn and Restaurant. The party, attended by Step Up pool of consultants, their kids, and the trainees of the firm in the summer of 2012, was intended to celebrate the accomplishments of the firm in 2012 and also thank its main stakeholders within the firm in its contribution for the upcoming projects of the organization in 2013.
Step Up is now on its 9th year and its pool of consultants has significantly grown. Its pool of consultants are researchers, local government practitioners, development workers, and professors who are committed to the the development of organizations, institutions, and communities. Established as a social enterprise, Step Up is dedicated to assisting local communities, people’s organizations, local government units, non-profits, and business enterprises, in the delivery of services that benefits the society in general.
Step Up is also committed to training future leaders. As a strategy, it accepts five trainees each summer, selected from several applicants, to be trained in the provision of capacity building, financial management, and development research services to clients; these are the firm’s core services. Previous interns later became CPA board exam placers while majority now holds successful jobs within the country and elsewhere.
Step Up thanks its previous clients for believing in the capacity of the firm to provide quality services. In 2013, Step Up plans to launch two programs that will benefit communities as well as children.