Step Up Conducts Training on Financial Management

FM participants during the training workshops.
FM participants during the training workshops.

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.

Step Up Assists Tagbilaran City Government

The ELA Workshop participants
The ELA Workshop participants

The City Government of Tagbilaran completed the review of its Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA) last August 23, 2014. The three-day workshop, which culminated the series of preparatory workshops, fine-tuned the city’s ELA that was prepared in July 2013 before the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. And since the planning parameters changed dramatically, the need to come up with a plan that is relevant to the needs of the people and the City Government has become a necessity.

The event was attended by Mayor Baba Yap and the city department heads, the Sangguniang Panlungsod led by Vice-Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso and the city councilors, civil society representatives, representatives from the national government agencies, and the barangay captains.  The workshop  came up with prioritized the programs, projects, and activities that the city government will prioritize in 2015. Among these are the completion of the city hall’s repair, the provision of social and economic programs, and the needed rehabilitation of public infrastructure.

Step Up’s managing consultant, Mr. Michael Canares was the facilitator of the whole process including the pre-workshop activities that were conducted prior to the three-day workshop.

Step Up Completes LDN Internal Audit Strengthening Contract

Mentoring sessions with LDN Internal Audit Team.
Mentoring sessions with LDN Internal Audit Team.

The Provincial Road Management Facility engaged Step Up Consulting to coach or mentor the Provincial Internal Audit Office (PIAO) of Lanao del Norte in order to strengthen the capacity of PIAO in three areas – conduct of audit engagement, audit report writing, and audit compliance monitoring system. The Step Up team was composed of Managing Consultant Michael Canares and Alvin Luis Acuzar, Learning Manager.

The mentoring process involved  a combination of the following: (1) On-site mentoring consisting of a three-day theory-building exercise with concrete application on the audit of one priority risk area of the Provincial Engineer’s Office of Lanao del Norte.; and (2) and online mentoring on the actual engagement process and the writing of audit report. For this purpose, Step Up made use of Facebook as an online mentoring platform.

As a result of the engagement, the PIAO of the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte was able to prepare its first Audit Engagement Plan which documents the planned, strategic, objective-based approach in conducting the audit of the Provincial Engineer’s Office. Conducting the audit activities based on planned work program is just part of the audit fieldwork process. The critical and important part is the audit documentation process through the preparation of working papers that became the basis in the preparation of audit findings and recommendations. The internal audit office was able to show improved competence both in the area of audit evidence-gathering and audit documentation. Finally, based on the results of the fieldwork as documented by the working papers, the Internal Audit Office was able to prepare audit findings and recommendations.

According to PIAO chief Chirelyn Leopoldo, the mentoring approach used by Step Up Consulting enabled them to learn audit concepts and apply them in actual work situations.  As a result, they were able to complete a full audit cycle and prepare the audit report which they have recently presented to the Provincial Engineering Office, the auditee in this case.

Internal audit in the context of local government units is one of the expertise of Step Up Consulting. To date, it has assisted the provinces of Bohol, Bukidnon, Guimaras, Davao del Norte and Lanao del Norte.

Step Up Assists DILG

Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.
Mr. Canares and the participants of the PRMF/DILG consultative workshop on LRMPA.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Provincial Road Management Facility to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in reviewing its Local Road Management Performance Assessment Tool (LRMPAT), a tool in assessing the performance of local government units.   A consultative workshop was done with representatives of regional offices of DILG across the country last 22-23 May 2014 at The Linden Suites in Ortigas, Manila.

The Local Road Management Performance Assessment (LRMPA) Consultative Workshop started at 8:45 a.m. on 22 May with an opening program where Ms. Ruby Romero of DILG – SLRF  thanked the PRMF Team and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government for the support and partnership with DILG. For his part, Mr. Luke McNamara, Capacity Development Manager of PRMF emphasized the importance of sharing insights and experiences in the course of the workshop to further understand and improve the LRMPAT.

The LRMPAT was developed in 2012 when Mr. Canares was still the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator of PRMF.  The tool was pilot-tested in select cities and provinces in the same year to serve as input to the tool’s final revision.  Mr. Ronet Santos was then contracted by PRMF to facilitate the whole process.  In 2013, DILG rolled-out the implementation of the tool nationally and thus the need to hear the perspectives of those conducting the assessments in the provinces and cities.

A total of 46 participants attended the two-day workshop.  Mr. Michael Canares was the lead facilitator of the activity while Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes was its documenter.

Step Up is Represented in OGP Bali Conference

OGP Bali
Mr Canares with some of the members of the Philippine delegation together with Ambassador Aguinaldo and Maria Ressa of Rappler.

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up consulting is one of the representatives in the recent conference on Open Government Partnership held in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on May 6-7 2014.  The theme of the conference was “Unlocking Innovative Openness: Impetus to Greater Citizen Engagement“. The two-day event was opened with the plenary address of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in front of more than 500 delegates from across Asia-Pacific and the world.

Mr. Canares is one of the 30 Filipinos from government, academia, media, and civil society, who were invited to attend the high-level conference.  The conference discussed on the innovations, opportunities, limitations, and challenges of open government in the region.

Mr. Canares was the self-appointed rapporteur of the Open Data Research Network, a network of researchers on open data where Step Up Consulting is a member. During the course of the conference, he wrote two blog posts that were featured in the Open Government Partnership and cited in several articles on open governance and transparency.

The links to the posts on the Open Government Partnership website can be found here. These posts originally appeared in the Open Data Research Network website.

Day 1 Summary

Day 2 Summary

 

 

Step Up Consulting Assists EU/KNH EIPID Project

IKFI planning
Participants during the EIPID Sustainability Planning Workshop

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, a partner of Kindernothilfe (Germany) in implementing an EU-funded “Empowering Indigenous Peoples for Inclusive Development” Project (EIPID Project), to conduct its sustainability planning workshop. The project ends this year and thus the need to craft a hand-over strategy to the different EIPID partners. The project is implemented in the province of Antique, more particularly the towns of Lauan, Valderrama, Tobias Fornier, Anini-y, and Hamtic.

The goal of the project is to empower the Iraynon-Bukidnon and the Ati households and communities so that they can proactive engage in local development processes. To date, the organization was able to assist more 800 IP households through the self-help approach – where they save, engage in business, and undertake social/community action activities.  It resulted to positive changes more particularly to mothers and their children in terms of capacity to care and participate in local governance processes, and in terms of education and health, respectively.

The Sustainability Planning Workshop was held in Iloilo Business Hotel last 24-25 April, 2014.  It was attended by the members of the Board of Directors of Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, KNH representative in the Philippines, provincial officials of the Province of Antique, representatives from national government agencies as TESDA, DILG, and NCIP. Step Up Consulting planned and facilitated the two-day event.

Step Up Facilitates Aklan Internal Audit Strengthening

Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)
Aklan Internal Audit Visits Bohol (L-R: Brenda Magalit, Mae Cawaling, Elyen Agcaoili of Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office, Gov. Edgar Chatto, Cecil Isubal of PRMF Aklan, and May Limbaga of Bohol Provincial Internal Audit Office)

Step Up Consulting facilitated the capacity building activities for the Aklan Provincial Internal Audit Office (APIAO) through a series of on-site and online mentoring sessions intended to strengthen the capacity of APIAO in audit report writing and compliance monitoring.  Lead consultant Michael Canares facilitated the mentoring session on audit report writing in Kalibo last 2-3 April 2014 while Administrative Assistant Marilou Sale of Step Up coordinated the benchmarking visit of APIAO in Bohol last 9-11 April.

The APIAO team visited the office of the Provincial Administrator, AE Damalerio and Provincial Governor Edgar Chatto to learn about the support extended by the provincial government to Bohol’s internal audit team currently headed by May Limbaga.  They spent the whole day last 10 April 2014 to learn from the experience of Bohol’s Provincial Internal Audit Office, one of the very first local internal audit offices established in the country with the assistance of the Australian government.  The team also visited the Provincial Engineer’s Office and met with Engr. Gabino Redulla to learn about the road maintenance practices of the province.  At day’s end, they were given a short lecture on the role of internal audit in local governance in the road sector by Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) Bohol Manager Rosalinda Paredes.

The APIAO team expressed their appreciation to the provincial government of Bohol and to Step Up Consulting for a very productive benchmarking visit.  It can be recalled that Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting was the first consultant who assisted Bohol’s internal audit office in crafting its audit charter, in finalising its internal audit plan, and in conducting risk analysis using process-based approach sometime in 2010 when the office was still starting.  Currently, Bohol’s internal audit office is one of the few strong internal audit teams among the 10 provinces supported by PRMF.

Step Up Managing Consultant speaks at GDI Conference

GDI DIE Green and Social
Canares, Loewe, Perch, and Schafer in the panel on Effects of Poverty-Oriented Policies on the Environment

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up Consulting, was one of the few invited speakers in the recently concluded conference on Green and Social: Managing Synergies and Trade-offs at the Deutsche Well, Bonn, Germany last 12-14 March 2014.  The conference, jointly sponsored by the German Development Institute and the Poverty Reduction, Equity, and Growth Network (PEGNet), aims to bridge the gap between environmental and social perspectives on development. Mr. Canares represented the HNU Center for Research and Publication as editor of its academic journal, the Lumina.

Mr. Canares presented his paper entitled “Making Conditional Cash Transfers Green:  Opportunities for a Welfare and Environmental Agenda in the Philippines.” It looks at the potential and trade-offs of adding environmental conditions to the Philippine government’s cash conditional transfer program – the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, otherwise known as 4Ps.

He was in the same panel as Leisa Perch of the World Center for Sustainable Development in Brazil.  The panel was moderated by Markus Loewe of the German Development Institute while George Schafer of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was the panel discussant.   According to one of the organizers of the conference, Carmen Richerzhagen, there were a total of 90 paper submissions received, and only 14 were accepted for presentation at the conference.

The conference was attended by roughly 200 people from all over the globe.  Marianne Fay, chief economist for sustainable development and climate change at the World Bank, and Ernst Ulrich Von Weizsacker of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) were the keynote speakers.

Step Up Consulting Assists Ilog Kinderhome

IMG_00000516_hdr
IKFI Participants during the Annual Planning and Evaluation Workshop

Step Up Consulting assists its long-time client Ilog Kinderhome Foundation, Inc. (IKFI) in two engagements – in training its project staff in the use and conduct of Most Significant Change (MSC) as a monitoring and evaluation tool, and in facilitating the conduct of its Annual Evaluation and Planning Workshop.

The training on MSC was attended by project staff of the Empowering Indigenous Communities for Inclusive Development Project (EIPID).  EIPID, funded by the European Union through Kindernothilfe, is implemented in the province of Antique in order to empower indigenous communities socially, economically, and politically.  The workshop was held at the CICM Retreat House in Talisay, Negros Occidental in October 28-30, 2013.

It can be recalled that Step Up Consulting assisted KNH in the writing of the EIPID concept note and full proposal some five years ago and was also the evaluation and planning consultant in the early part of the project.

The Annual Planning and Evaluation Workshop, on the other hand, was held at Natures Village Resort Hotel in Talisay, Negros Occidental last 2-5 January 2014.  The workshop covered the planning and evaluation of three projects of IKFI – EIPID, Child-Focused Community Development implemented in Kabankalan, and WIP Project implemented in Ilog, both in Negros Occidental.

Step Up Evaluates SWCF Project in Batuan

Mrs Marcela Dapar
Mrs. Marcela Dapar, a beneficiary of the SWCF project. Image courtesy of DISOP.

Step Up Consulting Services was contracted by the Soil and Water Conservation Foundation (SWCF) to conduct the terminal evaluation of a three–year project on income generation, community organization strengthening, and environmental management funded by DISOP and Misereor, two European-based NGOs.  The project, “Employability and Capability Building of Farmes in Selected Barangays of Batuan Bohol” aims, that by the end of 2013, the livelihood and sustainable income of members of the communities in 7 barangays along the Makapiko River and its tributaries in Batuan Municipality of Bohol is secured for the long term.  It also strengthens previously assisted organizations of SWCF in the Eskaya communities in Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Garcia Hernandez, and Guindulman.

All seven barangays directly assisted have people’s organization, mostly in the form of cooperatives and associations. The five of the organizations are considered weak in their structure, have limited membership, and are not very stable as a potential source of income, training, reasonable credit and entrepreneurship development for the community. In most areas there is poor implementation of environment laws that has led to environmental degradation in terms of chemical pollution (pesticide and commercial fertilizer), solid waste pollution, removal of forest cover, biodiversity loss through hunting and collection of flora and fauna and disturbance of local caves and their resources.  All these activities are magnified when done on karst because of the very nature of the geological formation itself.

To respond to these concerns, the project aims to achieve three objectives, to wit;

  1. Associations/NGOs are capacitated to manage their affairs and link among themselves and other stakeholders to create a sustainable and conducive environment for securing their livelihoods.
  2. Agricultural and non- agricultural enterprises for the local residents, especially those who are now below the poverty line are newly created and strengthened.
  3. Project beneficiaries are better capacitated to deal with adverse affects of climate, political and social disturbances as well as able to reverse the environmental degradation of their natural resources.
alvin-acuzar-executive-director-sa-buswacc
Alvin Luis Acuzar, Evaluation Team Leader

Mr. Alvin Luis Acuzar, former associate of Step Up manages the evaluation project.  Alvin is currently the Executive Director of the Bol-anon United Sectors Working for the Advancement of Community Concerns (BUSWACC).  He is joined by Doreen Lerin, Marilou Sale, Lorebien Lagapa, Arlen Salgados-Canares, and Edaline Bolotaulo, all seasoned community researchers of Step Up with more than five years of experience in development evaluation.

This evaluation has three objectives:

  1. To evaluate the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and outcomes of the project to the situation of targeted people and groups in the community, with particular focus on farmers and their families.
  2. To evaluate the effectiveness of the projects in view of their objectives and to analyse the sustainability of the project results
  3. To assess the roles and contributions of the different stakeholders in the implementation of the project

Project evaluation is one of the core services of Step Up.  In the past, Step Up has been engaged by Kindernothilfe Germany, World Vision Philippines, Fundacion Ipade (Spain), and SABIC (Belgium), Simag Foundation, Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water, and other organizations engaged in development work in the country and elsewhere.

The project evaluation started in July and will end in September this year.