While the Philippines has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the region, many Filipinos are being left behind. USAID promotes inclusive economic growth and encourages investment by promoting reforms that create a favorable environment for private enterprise to thrive. This includes efforts to reduce regulatory bottlenecks and barriers to greater trade and investment; improve the environment for competition; enhance Philippine competitiveness; and support the digital transformation of the Philippine economy. USAID also partners with urban centers outside of Metro Manila to help them become engines of sustainable, resilient economic growth.
In addition, USAID collaborates closely with the Philippine government and civil society to uphold shared democratic values. Together, the U.S. and the Philippines work to strengthen local and participatory governance, reduce corruption, increase political participation, support the conduct of free and fair elections, enhance civic engagement and youth leadership, and expand access to justice. To promote peace and stability in Mindanao, USAID strengthens government institutions, supports policy development and reforms, and fosters engagement with civil society organizations to empower inclusive participation in the Bangsamoro transition. USAID also enhances the capacity of local organizations to provide assistance in the critical areas of trafficking in persons, food security, and disaster relief.
Accelerate Women's Entrepreneurship for Peace and Prosperity in Mindanao (ACCELERATE)
Despite the presence of conflict in BARMM, an increasing number of women are establishing successful businesses and micro-enterprises, particularly in agriculture, food production, textiles, brassware production, and other handicrafts. On top of the conflict, these businesses face challenges such as access to finance and markets, scaling-up, and networking. However, only a few policies or programs are designed to support women’s economic development in the Bangsamoro. ACCELERATE aims to help strengthen peace and stability in BARMM by accelerating women’s economic empowerment in the region. The project works to measure women’s economic participation and entrepreneurship in Bangsamoro; empower women to succeed in the workforce and women entrepreneurs to launch and grow businesses; support women entrepreneurs and business leaders to build connections and access new markets; and improve the enabling environment for women’s entrepreneurship and economic opportunities.
Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON)
Building the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure is fundamental to improving its competitiveness for trade and investment, which would increase employment and income generation. Working with government and private sector partners, BEACON is improving the quality of ICT infrastructure; enhancing the enabling environment and regulatory governance for greater ICT investment; and strengthening cybersecurity protection. By addressing gaps in internet access and connectivity, BEACON hopes to reduce the cost of doing business, improve productivity of private enterprise, and increase the benefits of the digital economy. Improvements in digital infrastructure will also enable the efficient delivery of public services, connect the underserved and remote regions, and expand economic opportunity.
Cities for Enhanced Accountability, Governance, and Engagement (CHANGE)
CHANGE supports strengthened democratic governance in the Philippines by making local governance more responsive. Working with CDI partner cities, the project seeks to achieve more responsive local governance by strengthening the enabling environment for decentralization; enhancing service delivery capacity, legitimacy, transparency, and accountability; and empowering citizens by increasing their participation in and oversight of local governance processes.
Democratic Governance Support to the Bangsamoro Transition (FORWARD Bangsamoro)
In July 2018, the Philippine government ratified the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which established the BARMM. The six-year transition period is crucial to both the Bangsamoro and the Philippines to bolster local governance and nurture economic growth. USAID, in partnership with The Asia Foundation, works closely with key regional government institutions to improve their overall capacity; provide technical assistance on priority legislation and policy measures; and encourage community engagement with the BARMM and Bangsamoro Transition Authority. USAID assistance helps citizens of the Bangsamoro build a more effective and accountable government that is well-positioned to advance peace, security, and inclusive economic growth in the region.
Development Credit Authority Loan Portfolio Guarantee for 1st Valley Bank
The Development Credit Authority (DCA) Loan Portfolio Guarantee for 1VB is structured to encourage lending to domestic, commercial businesses, predominantly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), in Mindanao – including Marawi and surrounding areas. This portfolio guarantee supports inclusive growth and employment across priority agribusiness sectors, including agricultural supply chains and rural SMEs, while also promoting peace and stability in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao. Under this activity, DCA funds are used to provide up to 50 percent guarantee cover to potential net principal loss on qualified loans while 1VB uses its own funds to finance loans to qualifying borrowers in the target regions.
Enduring Peace in the Bangsamoro
Enduring Peace in the Bangsamoro improves participatory governance structures; develops community-owned peacebuilding mechanisms grounded in policy; and fosters trust, empathy, and mutual understanding among communities in Basilan, Maguindanao, and Cotabato City. Employing a People-to-People approach while maintaining sensitivity to local cultural contexts and ensuring Do No Harm principles are upheld, the project facilitates safe interactions – horizontally (personal and relational change) between individuals, identity, and sectoral groups and vertically (structural change) between communities and state institutions – to contribute to transparent and accountable governance and effective social cohesion so the peace process can deepen and flourish.
Greening Agri-Food Value Chains through Carbon-Based Inputs for Agriculture and Waste Recovery in Caraga Region, Mindanao (Greening CARAGA)
The Greening CARAGA project supports pollution reduction and resource-efficient processes in agri-food value chains in the region, contributing to a greener economy and poverty reduction in the Philippines. To reduce waste in agricultural value chains and create economic opportunities for vulnerable communities in CARAGA, the activity promotes the use of carbon-based inputs (CBI) such as biochars, biofertilizers, and biopesticides that are produced from agricultural waste like rice husks and other agricultural crops. The project also develops the supply chain and business model for CBI to expand the market and demand for CBIs as a viable and greener alternative to traditional fertilizer.
Initiative for Advancing Community Transformation (I-ACT)
Founded on the Philippines’ and the United States’ shared democratic values, including respect for human rights, USAID, TAF, and other partners support 115 local civil society organizations in using behavior science approaches for civic engagement. Collaborating with non-traditional democracy partners such as IT organizations and communications firms, I-ACT analyzed rights knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors to develop hope-based messages that can inspire digital communities to seek, affirm, and claim human rights. I-ACT is a partner of four major human rights coalitions in the Philippines: the Philippine Alliance for Human Rights Advocates, the Alternative Law Groups, Child Rights Network, and iDEFEND.
Initiative for Media Freedom
The Initiative for Media Freedom aims to support an independent and free press, counter disinformation, promote political inclusion, and enhance democratic governance in the Philippines. In partnership with respected and credible organizations from media, civil society, and academia, the Initiative for Media Freedom implements activities organized along three objectives to 1) improve the environment for a free press; 2) bolster capacity of media and other organizations to address disinformation; 3) strengthen self-regulation of the media sector.
Local Works – Assets, Agency, and Trust: Domestic Resource Mobilization as a Strategy for Promoting Locally-owned and Locally-led Development in the Philippines
Sustainable funding is one of the key challenges faced by non-government organizations around the world, including the Philippines. USAID works with GlobalGiving to support the financial sustainability of civil society organizations through resource mobilization with an emphasis on community philanthropy. This project also helps ensure that resources are used effectively and transparently for the benefit of organizations’ constituents.
Local Works – Facilitating Local Access to Water (FLoW)
Using locally-led community solutions, USAID and AKAP, with the support of the U.S.-based Local Systems Practice consortium, improves water access for the residents of Tublay Municipality. FLoW facilitates systems analysis and stakeholder mapping, including the processes, relationships and dynamics of all actors. It ensures sustainability by capitalizing on local partners’ ability to come up with solutions that address their own development challenges, as solutions emerge from collaborative engagements between and among communities, local officials, non-governmental organizations and the business sector. FLoW also provides models for collaborative implementation that can be replicated in sectors beyond water.
Local Works – Impact Pioneers: The Philippines’ First Impact Investment Network Activity
Impact Pioneers supports a local private company to establish the first impact investor network in the country, seeking to bridge the “missing middle” lack of early-stage risk capital for impact enterprises. The activity will bridge gaps in financing by creating a strong pool of impact investors and unlocking local catalytic capital. The network also aims to address the gender financing gap in the Philippines.
Localworks – Rural-Urban Market Link: Establishing a Mechanism to Promote Inclusive Livelihood for the Marginalized Poor Activity (RUML)
RUML strengthens market linkages between rural producers and urban consumers to help increase farmer income and agricultural productivity while contributing to a more steady supply of safe, nutritious, and affordable food for urban communities. Project activities include establishing a functional market mechanism called People’s Business Center (PBC); providing steady supply of safe and nutritious agricultural products from small-scale rural producers who are expected to obtain fairer prices due to price incentive scheme of the PBC; establishing different market segments that interact effectively with the organized rural suppliers, and in the process generating livelihood opportunities within the value chain; and developing an integrated digital platform to facilitate data management necessary in the different stages of the value chain operations.
Logistics Services in Mindanao (LOGISTICS 2)
LOGISTICS 2 provides security risk management and transportation services and other administrative support services for short-term visits by USAID personnel and other U.S. government officials and visitors in Mindanao. The support services include conducting situational analysis; appraising USAID staff on security-related concerns in areas in Mindanao with U.S. government programming; and providing administrative support to USAID staff on organizing meetings, workshops, and high-level events.
Philippines Performance Audit Partnership (PPAP)
Performance audits are effective tools for assessing the intended development results of public investments. USAID partners with the Center for Audit Excellent of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), a world leader in performance audit, to bolster the capacity of the Philippine Commission on Audit (COA). GAO experts upskills COA auditors in GAO-style performance audit and advises COA leadership in implementing organizational changes to institutionalize the audit model.
Political Participation for Greater Electoral Integrity (PARTICIPATE)
PARTICIPATE builds capacity for civil society oversight of elections, supports the improvement of voter registration and turn-out—particularly among youth, and enhances voter education and access to reliable information over digital and social media. Critically, PARTICIPATE also engages civil society and government and political leaders in support of the historic first election taking place under the newly formed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Additionally, PARTICIPATE supports political and electoral policy reform in campaign and political finance, voter education and registration, and automation technology adoption, among others.
Regulatory Reform Support Program for National Development (RESPOND)
The Philippines faces critical challenges to attracting and facilitating trade and investment, including the quality of utilities and infrastructure, high entry barriers for new economic players, and complex processes to start and operate businesses. RESPOND improves regulatory quality to enhance competitiveness, and ultimately contributes to higher levels of investment and trade, inclusive growth, and self-reliance. RESPOND pursues interventions that enhance market competition and strengthen regulatory capacity and governance. To advance market competition, RESPOND supports reforms that reduce barriers to entry and reduce regulatory burdens and transaction costs for business. To strengthen the capacity of public officials to develop and implement quality regulations, RESPOND extends technical assistance that strengthens regulatory oversight, transparency, and accountability mechanisms. As a cross-cutting objective, RESPOND expands citizen engagement and the participation of civil society organizations to advocate for fair and open regulations and a better business environment.
Strengthening Private Enterprise for the Digital Economy (SPEED)
SPEED advances the participation of Philippines small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the digital economy. The project collaborates with the government and private sector, including chamber and industry associations, to mobilize and maximize available resources in the digital economy for enterprise-led economic growth. SPEED supports initiatives that promote the use of digital technologies to accelerate competitiveness, drive innovation, fuel job opportunities, and enhance the market reach of enterprises. SPEED has four objectives: improve SME capacity and access to e-commerce platforms; expand and increase the use of e-payment systems and other financial technology innovations; improve the integration of e-commerce platforms with logistical supply chains; and increase consumer awareness and protection.
Strengthening Local Systems and Partnerships for More Effective and Sustainable Counter-Trafficking in Persons in the Philippines (Strength CTIP-P)
The Philippines maintained the Tier 1 ranking in the 2023 U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, having fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and for demonstrating serious continued and sustained efforts in combating trafficking in persons. However, gaps in prosecuting traffickers and ensuring the availability of specialized protection and providing assistance and reintegration services to victim-survivors remained an issue. Strength CTIP-P strengthens the local system that prevents and responds to trafficking in persons and consequently reduces vulnerability at the community level. The project partners with the national Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) and its member government agencies, its counterpart councils at the local level, civil sector organizations, and the private sector. The project ensures a holistic approach by applying the four pillars of the U.S. government counter-trafficking strategy - prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnership.
Trade Capacity Building and Technical Assistance III (Interagency Agreement)
This project supports the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s partnership with the Philippine government to promote and enforce competition law and policy. FTC assists in building the capacity of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), particularly with respect to regulations on mergers and acquisition and antitrust. FTC trains PCC staff on drafting and implementing regulations, conducting investigations, setting up review and notification processes, and building up cases. It supports the Philippine Department of Justice and the courts on competition law by training prosecutors and judges on jurisprudence on competition law.
Transforming Rural Agricultural Norms for a Sustainable Mindanao (TRANSFORM)
TRANSFORM supports rural communities in Mindanao to become resilient with sustainable livelihoods and enhanced ecosystems. The project builds partnerships among national and local governments, farmer communities, peoples’ organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to advance agroforestry, reforestation, and forest and biodiversity conservation activities toward carbon certification. TRANSFORM also supports reforestation and forest conservation activities that benefit sustained community livelihoods and conservation. In addition, it helps build the capacity of institutions to support environmental reforestation and forest protection.
Urban Connect supports secondary cities to become better governed and resilient growth hubs in order to disperse economic opportunity and improve quality of life outside of Metro Manila and other high-density areas. To advance local economic development, the project improves the local regulatory environment for private investment and enterprise growth and strengthens inter-local government units coordination and connectivity. To improve public service delivery, Urban Connect strengthens public financial management; advances e-government solutions; and improves delivery of health and education services. The project also engages the private sector, promotes resilience, and ensures gender and social inclusion.
Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed)
Despite the acknowledged role of the youth and their potential contribution to good governance, they are under-represented in civic engagement and electoral exercises, where almost a third of registered youth voters failed to participate in the recent elections. There is little, if any, evidence that civic education in the Philippines has a concrete impact on youth political participation. Nevertheless, youth have tremendous potential to significantly influence democratic governance in the Philippines. A partnership with The Asia Foundation, YouthLed supports the growth of empowered, autonomous youth constituencies around issues that youth see as priorities, while amplifying the voices of young women and men in local and national political arenas. This issue-based approach will anchor leadership development, coalition-building, and civic education and engagement activities in contexts that are relevant to youth while supporting their meaningful participation in democratic governance and local and national elections.