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Six years ago, we started Go Negosyo in response to the call for steps to ease the alarming poverty in the country. Our mission was and has always been to educate, empower and encourage Filipinos to venture into entrepreneurship so that they may enjoy more comfortable, dignified lives. We believe that changing mindsets and imparting the entrepreneurial skills they need to support themselves are our share in providing a long-term solution to alleviating poverty in the Philippines.
Through the years, we have seen Filipinos embrace the Go Negosyo advocacy, take charge of their lives and put up their own negosyos. But more importantly, we have witnessed the empowerment and the rise of a growing number of social entrepreneurs who are striving to address different social issues through their negosyos. This, of course, is a clear indication that the mindset of Filipinos towards society and entrepreneurship have changed. But there is still more to be done to make this part of the mainstream consciousness.
One of Go Negosyo’s goals this year is to create more awareness of social entrepreneurship and to educate more people on the impact of SEs on the development of our country. Though many companies already have Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, we find it more beneficial to highlight Corporate Social Innovation or CSI, otherwise known as a Strategic CSR, a fairly new concept that pushes for the integration of social value into the operations of a negosyo, like sourcing raw materials from Social Enterprises or a group of local farmers, or employing a community for labor or other services. This proactive approach boosts parallel development for the enterprises and the communities working with them.
Here in the Philippines, CSI models are slowly being adopted by companies and social entrepreneurs as they see more benefits in the practice for all parties involved. Some of the enterprises that already assimilate CSI include Gandang Kalikasan of Anna Meloto-Wilk, Dylan Wilk and Camille Meloto, which sources their supply of raw materials from farmers in the communities of Gawad Kalinga. In agri-business, Bounty Fresh of Tennyson Chen acts as an integrator, which subcontracts some of its broiler growing operation through an SE like Manok Mabuhay and provides livelihood to a great number of chicken growers all over the country. And in government, the National Livelihood Development Corporation, led by Gondelina Amata, has been implementing the CSI model by extending financial assistance to MFIs and by helping farmers consolidate their produce to be able to supply onions to fast-food chains in the country.
We want to have more like them in the future, and so we have lined up a series of activities aimed at educating more entrepreneurs on how they can incorporate a social development model into their existing business models. First on our calendar was an intimate gathering of some of the most notable social entrepreneurs in the country, entrepreneurship advocates as well as enablers from both the private and government sectors last month at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel.
There with Go Negosyo for the memorable dialogue were Sen. Manny Villar, his wife and social entrepreneur Cynthia Villar, Rep. Teddy Casiño, DTI Undersecretaries Merly Cruz and Cristino Panlilio, Dr. Aris Alip of CARD-MFI, Chit Juan of ECHOStore, Jimmy Ayala of Solar Energy Foundation Philippines, Ana Tan of the British Council, Frank Chiu of Gawad Kalinga, Reuel Virtucio of the Manok Mabuhay SE and Gigi Zulueta of the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Over lunch we were able to fully differentiate the concepts of CSR, CSI and SE in hopes of sharing them with more negosyantes in the future. Personally, I found the discussion very enlightening as each of the participants gave their perspective on how we can further promote these concepts to our fellow Filipinos. Apart from the ideas from seasoned social entrepreneurs and advocates, we were also able to explore the different issues and challenges encountered by the SEs in the country and how they can be addressed so that social entrepreneurship and CSI can soon become common concepts to negosyantes in the Philippines.
To apply these learnings and strengthen our campaign in promoting social entrepreneurship, Go Negosyo, along with the British Council Philippines — led by country director Amanda Burrell — organized the Social Entrepreneurship Lunch Forum that was held at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City last week. It was a privilege for us to be joined by Trevor Lewis, the deputy head of missions of the British Embassy, and by our guest speaker Sir Stephen Bubb, one of the most notable social entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and the CEO of the Association of Chief Executive Organisations.
Distinguished Filipino social entrepreneurs Cynthia Villar of the Villar Foundation, Chit Juan of ECHOstore, Dylan Wilk of Gandang Kalikasan, Pinky Poe of GKonomics, among others, also joined the forum. Our partners in the advocacy PLDT SME Nation, Smart, RFM, BPI Family Ka-Negosyo, Avon, Condura, LBC, Multiply.com, Orchard Property Marketing Corp. and Unilever also supported us in this endeavor. Meanwhile, more than a hundred participants from the private, government and third sectors also came.
It was also very heartwarming that one with us in this cause of supporting and promoting SE and CSI in the country are our Go Negosyo trustees, Angelpreneurs and advocates Esther Vibal, Rosalind Wee, Myla Villanueva, Johnlu Koa, Mylene Abiva, Cathy Turvill, Tennyson Chen, Mary Joy Canon-Abaquin, Richard Sanz, Reuel Virtucio, Henry Tenedero, Carlo Calimon, Tess Dimaculangan, Alvin Tan, Benedict Carandang, Rosanna Llenado, Emerson Atanacio and Gondelina Amata.
Go Negosyo executive director Mon Lopez opened the forum with an introduction on the significance of SEs and the integration of CSI into our current business models. He also expressed Go Negosyo’s commitment to continue to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to consider addressing social issues as they go about their negosyos.
Then, our speaker, Sir Stephen Bubb, gave an enlightening speech on the current situation of the SEs in the UK, how they operate effectively, and how they impact the communities they support, so that we can learn from it and apply it here in our own country. He cited Oxfam International as one of the organizations that has successfully supported programs addressing poverty and injustice all over the world through the income generated from what they call “charity shops,” stores that sell items donated by prominent personalities and celebrities in the UK. Thinking about it, this may also work here in the Philippines as Pinoys have a fascination for celebrities and are also big fans of UK-UK (ukay-ukay).
But despite the difference in the situation here and in the UK, like the amount of support SEs get from the government, Bubb advised not getting discouraged or being held back by legislative limitations. He acknowledged that NGOs have a big role in the development of our nation. In fact, he also mentioned that what Go Negosyo is doing — empowering individuals to do something — is incredibly important as it makes people realize their potential, which he says is the heart of transformation and the strength of SE.
Most importantly, Stephen stressed the importance of investing in leadership in the third sector. He candidly pointed out the fact that organizations with bad leadership eventually fail. He added that the development of professional and passionate leaders is key for SEs because they rely mostly on the passion and enthusiasm of volunteers.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my Joey Concepcion Facebook account. Visit www.gonegosyo.net. Watch the top-rating entrep show Go Negosyo: Kaya Mo! on GMA News TV, Saturday and Sunday 8-8:30 a.m. Get daily Go Negosyo Text Tips on your mobile phone by sending GONEGO to 2910. Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/gonegosyo official.