I was first engrossed with the idea of social entrepreneurship when I first visited the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm (GKEF). If you would notice my two previous blog posts, both of them were about the GKEF too. I just can’t get enough of the place. The thought of building agricultural social enterprises to help underserved communities was very attractive to me. I wanted to create a social impact that will resonate among many people. There and then, when I visited the farm, I knew that I wanted to do something similar.
Following my GKEF visit, I began looking for a part-time job that would satiate my desire to start a social enterprise. That’s when I found the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development. I became a research assistant there, and since then I was exposed to several social enterprises like Anthill Fabric Gallery, ReyMic Enterprises, engageSPARK, Bayani Brew, Karabella Dairy, and many more. I have fun doing research about these social enterprises, and I believe it’s one way for me to become one step closer in fully learning how to build my own social enterprise. I admit that I still have a lot to learn, most especially in the operations and finance aspect, but it looks like I’m doing good so far!
My interest on social entrepreneurship just continues to grow every day. Just like what one of my mentors would always say, the problems we see in society shouldn’t be seen as problems per se, but as opportunities to create social business solutions that will tackle those problems. If you’re successful, you can even replicate that solution and expand it so that more people would benefit from it.
One particular social enterprise that inspires me is Human Nature, which started even before the GKEF was formed. Human Nature sells and produces beauty and cosmetic products that are environment-friendly. They also pay their workers with something higher than the minimum wage. Moreover, they have expanded to other countries such as the United States. But what consistently strucks me the most about them is their advocacies on women empowerment, wherein they organized a summit about it.
This shows us that social enterprises do not just mean business and that the social aspect is not only secondary. In fact, what makes social enterprises different from traditional businesses is that the social aspect is one of social enterprises’ main agenda. While Human Nature makes sure that its revenue streams are constantly flowing through sales and whatnot, it also has the ultimate goal of promoting environment-friendly products and women empowerment. These advocacies are directly embedded in the totality of their brand; the way they market and advertise their products is a manifestation of their social mission.
Recently, I’ve also joined a social enterprise competition called the BPI Sinag U for Entrepreneurs. We are developing an urban agriculture business model that will initially focus on the sustainable development of relocation sites in the Philippines. Ultimately, our goal is “to establish sustainable communities through urban agriculture.” We know how people in relocation sites do not really want to live in such places because they don’t see any opportunity there. But what if we show them that relocation sites can become economically viable? Urban agriculture has been one of the foremost, recent solutions in urban settings due to its simplicity and effectivity. Instead of buying vegetables and fruits in the supermarket, which are evidently pricy as compared to when you buy directly from farmers, with urban agriculture you can now produce your own crops. You can even sell them and make a business out of it. Through the social enterprise that my team and I are forming, we are looking into being able to expand this urban agriculture business model to other communities in the country–not just relocation sites. If ever we succeed in this competition, we will definitely push through with this business.
My social entrepreneurship journey so far has been filled with challenges and opportunities. If it were not for the people who supports me along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. Here’s to nation building and finding innovative solutions to our social ills!
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