Leading the way to sustainable peace and development

ICSP alumnus Selahuddin Yu Hashim empowers the Bangsamoro and Indigenous People in Mindanao through social enterprise

Selahuddin Yu Hashim, founder of The Moropreneur Inc. (TMI), is determined to change the narrative of the Bangsamoro, which has been marred by conflict and poverty. Fuelled by his passion to make a difference, Hashim founded TMI to share good stories on the Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples (IP) of Mindanao. “The Bangsamoro and IPs are peace-lovers, caretakers of nature, artists, musicians, singers, dancers, people smile a lot and with good food and appetites, and entrepreneurs,” he said

TMI is a social enterprise that seeks to enhance the skills and improve the income of those from the Bangsamoro, including IPs, while educating the public about their rich heritage and culture. Since it was established in 2015, TMI has partnered with several international and national organisations as well as local government units in implementing peacebuilding and socioeconomic projects that have supported mostly women and young people.

Empowering the Bangsamoro

As the founder of TMI, Hashim believes that his postgraduate education supported by the Australian Government’s In-Country Scholarship Program (ICSP) has played a significant role in equipping him to lead and manage TMI’s operations. Two years before establishing TMI, the ICSP gave him the opportunity to enhance his professional skills and leadership qualities through postgraduate studies at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) where he was a dean’s lister.

“The principles I’ve learned from my Masters in Development Management at AIM have helped me manage and transform complex and dynamic organizational and community issues and design, plan, implement, and evaluate people-led innovative solutions ,” he said. “These have made me become an effective manager and a leader.”

After earning his degree, Hashim, together with his team, crafted TMI’s Manual of Standard Procedures, which details the organisation’s purpose, system of operation, and policies.

Hashim has seen the impact of ICSP in his professional and personal life as he makes a difference, not only in TMI, but also in the Bangsamoro.

Hashim also co-founded Bente Uno Production, a multimedia citizen-led organisation that analyses and disseminates news in the Bangsamoro region.

Hashim has since served as consultant to several UN agencies, international organizations, and ministries and offices of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao while also serving as facilitator, trainer, and speaker.

Responding to the call of the times

When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck in 2020, Hashim led TMI in collaborating with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of Australia to launch programs that would help ease the difficulties of women, youth, and other marginalised groups during the pandemic. One of these programs is Kapit Bisig (Linking Arms), a digital platform that raises COVID-19 awareness and preparedness. Meanwhile, another program called WISER or Women-led Innovative Solutions for Economic Recovery, launched in partnership with The Asia Foundation, supported women’s livelihood and community leadership in the context of COVID-19.

“My ICSP education has allowed me to be more empathic to various marginalized sectors in the region and made me practice a people-led framework,” Hashim said. “As a result, all of the programs and projects we implement have improved the situation of our community partners in various ways. This also prompted TMI to design and advocate for more sustainable actions such as the integration of social enterprises in the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the establishment of the Technical Working Group on Women Economic Empowerment.”

Maricris Dadang, a woman entrepreneur who benefitted from WISER, said: “If it weren’t for the collaboration of DFAT, The Asia Foundation, and TMI, business owners like me would have nothing with which to reboot our establishments during the pandemic—businesses in BARMM now have a chance to prosper again.”

Enhanced understanding and skills

While Hashim recognises that there is still so much to learn to fulfil TMI’s goal, he also acknowledges the contribution of his learnings from ICSP in guiding him to take the right approach to meet TMI’s daily needs.

“The opportunity to provide Mindanao a platform where people — regardless of their background, history, beliefs, and culture — can share experiences, ideas and visions, and be guided by sound and relevant academic concepts, is a force that can transform communities, especially those that are conflict-affected,” he said.

He views ICSP and its partner institutions as fertile ground for nurturing skills that contribute to positive change. For him, the programme brings together leaders who reinforce the values of volunteerism, commitment, and integrity to forge a common goal of building a just and harmonious society where people can live decently and with respect.

He believes the Bangsamoro region benefits greatly from ICSP scholars who possess a thorough understanding of governance and the importance of participative decision-making. “Ultimately, the ICSP provides a solid impact that meets the significant needs of the Philippines for true and inclusive peace and development,” Hashim said.