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Social enterprises key to inclusive growth in PH

By: - Copy Editor / @RCamongolINQ
/ 04:24 AM November 21, 2014

Some of the most inspiring people who want to make a positive change in the world flock to social enterprise, according to Gretchen Phillips, former senior adviser on development and foreign assistance of the US Department of State.

“The investments we’re making today are going to set the course of the country for the next generation,” said Phillips during the recent Good News Kapihan. “What types of investment are we going to make in a way that creates opportunity for every Filipino?”

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This is one of the questions that the 3rd Social Enterprise Conference, scheduled for Nov. 26-28 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, will tackle.

With the theme “Business Competitiveness and Continuity of Social Enterprises,” the conference organized by the Peace and Equity Foundation would bring together leaders, experts and practitioners to discuss how social enterprises could be competitive, resilient and able to drive inclusive growth, according to its website socialenterprise.ph.

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PEF Treasurer Pacita Juan says that social enterprises must be able to do three things: Help solve a social problem, make money, and be environmentally sound.

A bakery, for instance, may be considered a social enterprise if it buys supplies from farmers. That way, the pastry shop becomes a sustainable endeavor that benefits the agricultural workers as well.

According to Juan, the five most important commodities in the country are also the industries where the poorest belong.

These 5 Cs are coffee, cacao, coconut, cane sugar and other climate-smart agricultural products such as camote and rice.

Peace and Equity Holdings, under PEF, has P500 million in funds to grant social entrepreneurs capital to fund ventures related, but not limited, to adding value to any of the 5 Cs; or to providing basic social services such as maternity clinics or hospitals.

Don’t just sell cacao beans, says Juan. Adding value to these commodities means turning these into something else, like cocoa powder or butter.

Peace and Equity Holdings adviser Joey Bermudez says social enterprises “are much more challenging.”

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Bermudez, former Chinatrust Philippines president and chief of Maybridge Financial Group, says being a social entrepreneur requires a lot more skill, discipline, management ability and patience, but the rewards can be generous.

Social entrepreneurs, he adds, can use a lot of help from big business.

“It is important for them to coexist,” says Phillips, referring to the entrepreneurs and corporations. “Competition puts discipline to social entrepreneurs.”

Scheduled to give talks on social entrepreneurship during the conference next week are Oscar Kneppers, founder of Rockstart (rockstart.com), a company that offers support for startups; Bart Édes, director of poverty reduction, gender and social development of the Asian Development Bank; Kees de Ruiter, regional manager of ICCO South East Asia and the Pacific, and Philo Alto, founder and chief executive officer of Asia Value Advisors.

The third day of the social enterprise conference will be devoted to introducing aspiring innovators to social entrepreneurship as a means of doing business with an impact.

Social enterprise practitioners, NGO representatives and government officials will give talks on enterprise building, product development, technology use, business compliance and impact investing.

The 3rd Social Enterprise Conference is organized by PEF in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Management Association of the Philippines, PinoyME Foundation, Cordaid and Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation.

To register, visit socialenterprise.ph or go to pef.ph. Early registration fee (from Oct. 29 to Nov. 18) is P2,000 while the regular rate is P3,000.

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TAGS: Good News Kapihan, Gretchen Phillips, Investment, Pacita Juan, Peace and Equity Foundation, social enterprise, US Department of State
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