Employers' activities

Role of business in building a resilient future in crisis and disaster

The ILO Bureau for Employers' Activities (ACT/EMP), the Country office for the Philippines (CO-Manila) and Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) held a joint workshop to discuss the role of business and its organizations in building a resilient future in Mindanao through support for enterprise growth, job promotion and investment strategies.


Across the Asia Pacific region “fragile zones” (areas susceptible to either disaster or conflict) are pervasive, including the Philippines. Furthermore, the frequency of conflict and disasters is increasing with growing numbers of people caught in fragile conditions, resulting in livelihoods that are destroyed, businesses interrupted, workplaces damaged and millions of workers lose their jobs. The two issues of fragility – conflict and disaster - are often deeply interconnected. Conflict, disasters and other crises in turn aggravate poverty, unemployment and informality, creating a vicious cycle leading to even greater fragility. The resulting deterioration in social conditions in these States can also destabilize neighbouring States into which problems overflow, in the form of refugees, cross-border armed forces and related manifestations.

There is a wide role that national business and its leaders, through representative organizations can play in situations of conflict or disaster. The leadership function these actors can deploy in terms of preparing its members in times of disaster and maintaining an environment for continued commercial activity, particularly supporting smaller enterprises, in situation of conflict or disaster can be extensive and groundbreaking.

Why is this issue important and relevant in the Philippines

The Philippines is the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms and continues to be affected by various other natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated a wide coverage of the central part of the Philippines, impacted 9 regions, 44 provinces and nearly 600 municipalities, of which 171 municipalities are located 50 km on each side of the path of the typhoon. Following that, some small scale typhoons have affected the different regions in the countries from time to time. The impact on communities was enormous with lost lives and destroyed physical, social and government infrastructure as well as drastic reduction in employment and other livelihood opportunities.

While humanitarian, non-profit and public sectors have traditionally been the ones seen as responsible in responding to disaster situations and leading recovery efforts and often look to the private sector principally as a source of donations, there is increasing recognition that the role of the private sector should extend much beyond that of providing funding.

Whereas in the south-western part of Mindanao group of islands, particularly the provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and recently Marawi, are home to a sizeable Muslim population, and has seen a communist insurgency as well as armed Moro separatist movements. There has been a cycle of violence and resumption of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF). Despite the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in 1990, and the signing of the comprehensive Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in 2014, the situation does not improve much and has great impact on business operation in the areas.

To this extent business membership organizations provide an important but underutilized channel for resilience building and maintaining commercial operations in conflict afflicted zones. Given that EBMO represents and provides services that meet the needs of their members, the potential role EBMO can play in building enterprise, stimulating rapid economic recovery and job creation is significant in both disaster and conflict situations.

How and why is ILO engaging on this issue

The ILO’s “Jobs for peace and resilience” (JPR) programme is one of ILO’s five flagship programmes under its current the development cooperation strategy. While the ILO has a long track record of technical work in fragile zones, much of this has focused on reconstruction activities post conflict or disaster, often employment-intensive schemes or employment generation/entrepreneurship programmes. Realising the role of Employers and Business Membership Organisation (EBMO) in situation of conflict and disaster, the ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ activities in 2014, launched a new programme on EMBOs in fragile zones, with the following three key strategic objectives:
  1. Enterprises, especially SMEs are able to sustain and grow their operations and generate employment under fragile conditions and in helping make the workplace a safe neutral space for workers.
  2. EBMOs play a substantive leadership role in building business resilience, making workplaces safe and inclusive, and supporting livelihoods and promoting stability, peace and investments in disaster and conflict affected zones.
  3. Collective approaches with workers organizations are promoted as viable longer-term approach to peace, stability and increased investment.
The programme started with research studies which revealed that while currently under-recognized and under-utilized in crisis situations, employers and business membership organisations (EBMOs) have the expertise and the aspiration to contribute to crisis mitigation strategies and peacebuilding efforts; they can also contribute crisis leadership and promote investment in the recovery process.

ACT/EMP has seen this issue as a way to facilitate and strengthen the wider work that Employers Organisations either currently carry out or potentially could carry out in fragile zones. It is also a strategic opportunity to promote the roles of EOs/private sector in this kind of technical work which is both attractive to donors and highly recognised under the new globally agreed UN development framework – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What has ACT/EMP done so far 

  • Comprehensive needs assessment for the private sector in the Philippines: Disaster preparedness, response and recovery
  • Policy frameworks developed that can facilitate Disaster Risk reduction and post disaster management efforts e.g. Tax exemption measures; clean loans with low interest rates granted to SMEs; and credit extensions to SMEs; employment assistance schemes etc. (Developed in partnership with the American University, Kogod Business School, Washington DC through field work in the Philippines and New Zealand).
  • Business Continuity Planning (BCP) tool for SMEs that have been successfully rolled out in eight provinces in the Philippines using innovative new methodology to reach SMEs.
  • A case study on the role of employers and business organisations in responding to and preparing for natural disaster in Myanmar.
Based on the above, we have put together a comprehensive Guide/Toolkit for Business Membership Organizations in helping firms with resilience and mitigation strategies and practices.

  • Research and field work in Thailand, Philippines and Sri Lanka were conducted to explore the potential role that EBMOs can play in supporting economic development and investment decisions in areas prone or potentially prone to conflict situations.
  • Report and recommendations on strategies and approaches that employers and business membership organisations can use to attract investment in conflict afflicted zones.
  • A case study on Sri Lanka: A case study on the role of employers and business organisations during the conflict in Sri Lanka
Based on the above, we have also put together a comprehensive Toolkit for Business Membership Organisation focusing around the following five components:
  1. Providing services and supporting enterprises in CAZ;
  2. Promoting inclusive workplaces;
  3. Strengthening private sector roles in peace-making and peace dialogue;
  4. Strategies to attract investment and jobs and to promote ethical investment;
  5. EBMO Capacity building

Strategic objectives

The main objectives of this workshop are to seek partnership among stakeholders and donor and to understand and assess the needs of enterprises in Mindanao and to assess the role that EBMOs can play in supporting them. The outcomes from this conference will feed directly into ACTEMPs overall strategy and product development which targets the following objectives:
  1. Providing EOs with practical and pragmatic tools and approaches to help enterprises, maintain commercial operations in conflict and support livelihoods afflicted zones and in helping make the workplace a safe neutral space for workers.
  2. Provide EOs with tools and approaches to promote investment opportunities in Mindanao in recognition that (1) business continuity is not just a local economic problem but disrupted industries play an important role in national and global supply chains, and (2) disaster risk reduction cuts across different aspects and sectors of development.
  3. Providing ECOP and its membership with practical and pragmatic tools and approaches to help enterprises, in particular SMEs, in minimizing the risk to their businesses from natural disasters, Including through business incubators for resiliency, and piloting of innovative business models for resiliency.
  4. Identifying issues that EOs can do at a macro/national level to help protect and build resilience for enterprises. These can range from exploring collective cheaper insurance schemes, mechanisms for rapid access to capital (including venture capital, angel investment etc.), to advocating policy measures (tax-relief post for enterprises post a disaster.
  5. Highlighting nationally/regionally the constructive positive role that business can play peace development and resilience strategies alongside the community, government and other related agencies to promote more coordinated and cooperative activities.


  1. A first half day workshop on “Public-Private Strategies in building a resilient future in Mindanao through support for enterprise growth, job promotion and investment strategies” was conducted on 10 Aug 2017 for a wider audience involving relevant Government agencies and potential donors.
  2. Two half day technical validating/training workshop for disaster and conflict was held back to back or concurrently on 11 Aug 2017.


Half day Public Workshop on 10 Aug 2017
  • ECOP leadership (Manila and from across Mindanao and maybe some other chapters)
  • Local Employers and business organisations and sectorial business associations
  • Companies
  • Government Ministries and relevant agencies in charge of peace and disaster
  • LGUs
  • Workers organisations
  • other UN Agencies e,g UNISDR
  • Donors
  • Media
Target 50 people

Two Technical Workshop on 11 Aug 2017

Twenty (2) business and companies owners and representatives including SMEs for each workshop

Target 40 people (15 - 20 pax each workshop)