Step Up Trains Ugandan CSOs on Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning

Step Up’s strategy advisor, Michael Canares, was contracted by Common Ground Consulting to train civil society organizations (CSOs) on monitoring, evaluation, and learning. The training, which was held on 15-18 February 2022 via Zoom, is part of the various training programs conducted for Ugandan CSOs by the Civil Society Strengthening Activity (CSSA) training program funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

Twenty-two CSOs attended the training. The cohort included representatives from the Uganda Women’s Network, the National Coalition for Human Rights Defenders, White Ribbon Alliance, Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, ICT Policy Center for Eastern and Southern Africa, among others.

Synchronous sessions took place from 1 to 5 pm Uganda time (5 to 10 pm Philippine time). Asynchronous sessions, on the other hand, took place every morning of each day through organization-based assignments that are required to be presented during the synchronous sessions each day.

The participants appreciated the training design and delivery. At the end of the training, most of them were excited to use their knowledge to improve the M&E systems of their organizations.

Step Up Advisor Moderates ASEAN Conference on Climate-Smart Land Use

Mr. Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting will be the moderator of the upcoming ASEAN Conference on Policy and Governance for Climate-Smart Land Use. The conference is organized by the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). GIZ collaborates with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and several other partner organisations to hold this conference.

The conference will be held online on 16-18 November 2021. The conference will tackle three themes, namely:

a. Multi-level Governance for Climate-Smart Land Use

b. Inclusive and Participatory Policy Making for Promotion and Adoption of Climate-Smart Land Use

c. Enabling environment for private investments into Climate-Smart Land Use

The conference is expected to attract policy-makers from ASEAN member states working in the fishery, agriculture, and forestry sectors, rural development and environmental activists, development agencies, research institutions and civil society organisations from across the region.

Working on Systems Mapping with Indonesia NGO Network

Step Up strategy advisor, Michael Canares, works with Konsil LSM Indonesia (Indonesian NGO Council) on a systems mapping research together with Open Data Lab Jakarta to develop a deep understanding of the systemic challenges in affecting gender-inclusive development in the cities of Jakarta, Banda Aceh, Bandung, and Pontianak in Indonesia.

The  system  mapping  research  consist  of  three  main  components:  1)  desk  research,  2) interviews with key civil society and government stakeholders in each of the target cities, and 3) system mapping workshops. Mr. Canares was engaged by the project implementation team to design the online workshop using different online tools.

Mr. Canares designed the different workshops aimed at (a) identifying and validating priority issues related to gender-inclusive development in each city; (b) recommending strategies or solutions to gender-inclusive development issues in each city and identify ways in which open data can be part of the solution; (c) identifying and prioritizing skills gaps and data gaps needed in implementing the solutions; and (d) identifying key actors and validating coalitions between actors within and inter-city, including support needed to strengthen the collaboration.

The workshops started in June 2020 and will wrap up in the next three weeks.

Labour Markets Project Design Workshop for Indonesia

miko in action day 2Step Up Managing Consultant Michael Canares led the design for the Labour Market Information Systems exploratory workshop for Indonesia and facilitated the same last April 9-10, 2019 at the GIZ Headquarters in Jakarta Indonesia. The primary question that the workshop tackled was whether non-traditional data sources can help overcome information deficits in labour market development programs.

The workshop brought together policy makers from relevant education and labour market related institutions, providers of relevant data and technical experts across Indonesia, more particularly those in the food processing sector, the current test case. The workshop aimed to initiate an in-depth discussion with respect to the following overarching questions:

  1. On which basis are education and labour market policies currently formulated in Indonesia?
  2. Are the currently used data sources enough to serve as a basis for informed policy formulation?
  3. What are known data/information gaps that may lead to sub-optimal policy decisions?
  4. Can non-traditional data sources, in particular, data from job-platforms and social networks, be used to enrich the existing information base and strengthen the evidence base in order to allow for more informed policy decisions?
  5. What gains can be expected from the use of non-traditional data sources?
  6. What are the related prerequisites and the costs related to the use of non-traditional data sources?
  7. What process needs to be in place to develop a system of integrating new data sources to existing systems?

outputThrough intensive workshops and meaningful conversations designed primarily to harness different ideas, the workshop resulted to at least four experiments in the use of different data sources – big data, open data, thick data, and citizen-generated data – to be able to capture traditionally unavailable information that are critical to labour market decision making processes.

The workshop was sponsored by GIZ and was part of GIZ’s efforts to harness new data sources for development projects.

Step Up Develops Guide on Road Asset Valuation

LRMPATStep Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Louis Berger Group, Inc. to draft the guidelines n Provincial Road Asset Valuation based on inputs from the Department of Public Works and Highways,  the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia.

Road asset accounting is a problematic practice in the Philippines. The most recent pronouncement in road asset accounting was the New Government Accounting Systems (NGAS) promulgated in 2001 through COA Circular 2001-005. While the NGAS, through the NGAS Manual, prescribes the rules in accounting for road assets, the corresponding effect on financial statements is severe when the time the road assets are completed.  Road assets on construction are debited to a Construction in Progress account but this is eventually closed to Government Equity account upon road asset completion.  As a result, road assets are no longer valued in the financial statements but are only disclosed as Public Infrastructure in the Notes to Financial Statements.

This accounting treatment has several effects. Road assets are no longer treated as assets but expenses, theoretically, as the values are closed against the equity account. Correspondingly, monitoring these assets become virtually impossible because they are not considered as part of the fixed assets inventory, and thus, are not provided with depreciation.  While road condition of the province has improved because of the rehabilitation, the provincial LGU’s value (represented by its equity account) decreased because the assets are technically charged against the equity account.  Under normal circumstances, this could not have been possible.  Asset acquisitions should have increased the net value of a local government unit.

This engagement is critical to ensure that road assets are valued in financial statements of local government units.

Step Up Trains Community Leaders on Enterprise Management

A participant explains the asset and opportunities map during the enterprise development session.
A participant explains the asset and opportunities map during the enterprise development session.

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 Presents at ICEDEG Conference in Ecuador

The Panel Members and ICEDEG 2015 Ecuador
The Panel Members and ICEDEG 2015 Ecuador

Managing consultant of Step Up Consulting Services joins the panel of four speakers conducting a tutorial on Open Government and Open Data at the International Conference on E-Democracy and E-Government.  The conference was held at the Universidad de Las Americas in Quito, Ecuador, last 8-10 April, 2015.

Michael Canares spoke about Open Government and Open Data in Asia and joined Sandra Elena and German Stalker of the Centro de Implementación de Políticas Públicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (Argentina) , Francois Van Schalkwyk of African Minds (South Africa), and Carlos Jimenez (Spain), founder of the IEEE e-government initiative.

The participation of Michael Canares in the conference was funded by a paper dissemination grant from the International Development Research Center through World Wide Web Foundation.

Step Up Conducts Risk Management Training

Risk Management Training for BUSWACC
Risk Management Training for BUSWACC

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.

Step Up Completes Internal Audit Mentoring for Misamis Occidental

PGMOC participants during one of the mentoring workshops.
PGMOC participants during one of the mentoring workshops.

Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Provincial Roads Management Facility to conduct mentoring activities for the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Misamis Occidental on audit communications and audit recommendations monitoring from August to October 2014. The highlights of the engagement were the conduct of mentoring workshops on the two topics.

The mentoring activity was intended to enable participants to understand the importance of monitoring and tracking internal audit recommendations;  learn how to establish an effective internal audit monitoring system; and know the importance of communication and writing skills in providing effective and persuasive management advise. As part of the outputs of the mentoring process, the PIAO was able to draft an Audit Recommendations Monitoring process, and a draft Audit Communications Plan.

Step Up was greatly appreciated by the participants for the topics they learned and for the process the mentors used in conducting the mentoring activity.  The participants rated the Step Up 9.33 out of 10.  The Step Up team was composed of Alvin Luis Acuzar, Jean Celeste Paredes, and managing consultant Michael Canares.

Step Up Conducts Most Significant Change Training

MSC Participants - CCT Tagaytay.
MSC Participants – CCT Tagaytay.

Step Up was commissioned by Woord en Daad to conduct the Most Significant Change (MSC) Training for its partners in the Philippines and Bangladesh.  The training was conducted at the CCT Tagaytay Retreat and Training Center last 24-26 September 2014 and was participated in by 9 participants from the Philippines, 4 from Bangladesh, and 1 from the Netherlands, a representative of the commissioning organization.

Woord & Daad is an international development organization, established in the Netherlands, working in 20 countries with 29 partner organizations. A number of its partner organizations is interested in increasing capacity on learning through participatory methodologies. For this training, Woord en Daad chose Most Significant Change as the method to be implemented by two of its partners in the Philippines and one partner from Bangladesh.

MSC involves the collection of significant change (SC) stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. It intends to capture project outcomes, and in some cases, impact without having to use project or program indicators.

The participants were very impressed with the results of the training.  The post-training evaluation of participants showed that Step Up scored very high in training facilitation, logistics, planning, and design.  The main trainer was Michael Canares and Step Up handled all training logistical arrangements, from the design of training bags to the choice of training materials.  Step Up will also provide post-training support to the organizations as they conduct their pilot implementation of MSC in their respective organizations.