Step Up Consulting Assists EU/KNH EIPID Project

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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

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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

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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

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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.
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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.

Step Up Assists Bukidnon Province on PFM

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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 Trains LGU GST Facilitators

Buenavista TOT TrainingStep Up Consulting Services trained 14 representatives of LGU Buenavista on how to conduct gender-sensitivity trainings as part of the assistance of the GREAT Women Project to the municipality.  The training was conducted in 20-23 March 2013 at Galilea Center for Education and Development and was attended by representatives from the local government unit of Buenavista, the Department of Education, and the local community college.

The GREAT Women project aimed to enhance the enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE)resulting in sustainable livelihoods for women. It sought to contribute to a gender-responsive environment for the economic empowerment of women, particularly women in microenterprises. In Bohol, the GREAT Women project is implemented in the municipalities of Buenavista, Balilihan, and Jagna.

Step Up managing consultant, Michael Canares, has been assisting the GREAT Women Project (GWP)  not only in Bohol, but also nationally.  In 2010, Mr. Canares facilitated the re-scoping workshop of GWP after its midterm evaluation. Besides Bohol, Mr. Canares also assisted the Metro Naga and Iloilo.

The participants of the training were very thankful to GWP and to the facilitator because they learned significantly from the sessions.  They did not only learn how to facilitate GST sessions, but also how to design participatory events on GST.

Step Up Assists AECID-assisted project on gender mainstreaming

SAM_0333Step Up Consulting Services assisted an AECID project implemented in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women in firming up its results chain and project formulacion.

The “Institutional Strengthening of National and Local Governance on Human Rights and Economic Empowerment with a Gender Focus: Implementation of the Magna Carta of Women,” is a project partnership between the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). AECID supports PCW’s mandate under the Magna Carta of Women as the over-all monitoring and oversight agency in ensuring the implementation of the law. The project will also provide assistance to oversight national government agencies and selected local government units in performing their roles relative to the realization of their mandates under MCW.

Step Up facilitated the workshop held at Lima Park Hotel. It was attended by key personnel of the project last January 2012. An indepth review of the draft PCW-AECID Project Implementation Plan, Project Formulation Document and draft Performance Measurement Frameworks of LGUs was done to serve as basis in the revision of the results chain and the corresponding measurement indicators.

Step Up Celebrates 2013 with renewed optimism

Step Up Consulting Services held its pre-New Year party last 29 December 2012New Year Party 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.

Step Up Assists a new resort in Panglao

Step Up Consulting Services, th255rough its managing consultant Michael Canares, was hired to assist the planning session of an upcoming resort in Panglao, Bohol.  The resort is due to open this year.

Mr. Canares has a substantial experience in the resort and restaurant business. He served as management consultant for almost ten years in one of the premier properties in Alona Beach – the Alona Palm Beach Resort and Restaurant before it was sold in early 2011.

Currently, Mr. Canares is also management consultant of C U Restaurant, and C U at Sun Restaurant in Panglao. In a recent talk series at the Yuchengco Museum to celebrate 150 years of Swiss presence in the Philippines, Mr. Canares, together with Alona Palm Beach Resort and Restaurant owner Mr. Marcel Brunner, talked on planning, maintaining, and constructing a beach resort in paradise.