Social entrepreneurship is different. It promotes change in an inclusive manner. Its driving force is not a dogma or political ideology. Rather, it is fueled by the hope and dreams for better life in every human being within a nurturing world. In this world we aim to bridge the divide between profit and welfare, between business and philanthropy. We strike the difference between helping as against promoting dependency. We seek to uplift human dignity and self-realization instead of incentivizing poverty. We involve all sectors, organizations and individuals to address the enormity of social ills.We recognize that it would take everyone to make the world better. Our bedrock is ethics. Our tool is innovation. Our mantra is human dignity and compassion. Our work is towards sustainability. It is in our culture to help others. Filipinos are known for our loving care and the warmth of our friendship. We have an abundance of generous people. Our youth are full of energy and hope while our elders are mindful of a lasting legacy that they should leave. In my year of teaching, I found remarkable individuals, corporations and organizations all dedicating time and resources to create positive change. To name a few, we have Dr. Alip of CARD-MRI, Harvey Keh and Solvie Nubla of Pathways to Higher Education, Rev. Javy Alpasa and Reese Fernandez of Rags 2 Riches, Mark Ruiz and Bam Aquino of Hapinoy, Dan Songco of Pinoy ME, and Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga. For corporations, we have the likes of SMART, Globe, Jollibee, and Metrobank. Even McKinsey Consulting is involved in providing solutions for corporations to reach those at the base of the pyramid (BOP). It is heartwarming to see corporations competing to serve marginalized sectors better and not solely to generate profit. I am humbled by the innovative ideas of my remarkable students. I am presented with great possibilities such as a solution to secure justice for abused children thru DNA kits (JustDNA), a plan to prevent dengue and malaria with an insect-repellent daily wear--this project is now on its testing stage (Wear n Repel), a proposal to expand information technology (IT) education by harnessing down-time hours in internet cafes, and environmental solutions in biogas and recycling. In Batanes, there’s Dina Abad’s Fina Fundacion, an eco-hotel reminiscent of those sanctuaries overlooking the seas. This eco-venture is now operational. There are also ideas and plans to feed less privileged children with soup (Soup A Day) out of the proceeds from the sales of high-end organic meals and soups to those who can afford. A group of SMART changemakers are also involving themselves with community mentoring to improve the reading skills of young students in partnership with KIDS Foundation and CHEERS. Notebook Reloaded is a movement that aims to provide quality and cheap notebooks to public school children out of recycled ones from more affluent schools; and Angels @ Work is helping a Gawad Kalinga community’s livelihood projects by connecting them with the market and providing organizational management. As I move around the country promoting this new approach to changing society, the sense of hopelessness that once burdened my tired spirit has been vanquished. In its place, a new hope gushes forth and I am once again possessed with the joy of pursuing a dream--a dream of achieving a more humane capitalism which believes that there could be an economy where the efficiency of capital is a function of ethics; where labor productivity is a function of the level of human dignity that the laborers possess; and a sense of realization that earth’s resources are finite such that there is a deliberate intent to nurture the balance of nature for the common good. *Arnel is the lead faculty of the Ateneo de Manila-School of Government Social Entrepreneurship Training Program for Professionals. The 3rd Social Entrepreneurship Training Program for Professionals starts on November 15 (until March 14, 2009), every Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Ateneo Professional Schools. For more details about this program, please contact Ms. Cristyl Senajon at 4265657.
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By Arnel Paciano Casanova* Happiness perhaps lies in a sense of destiny and the knowledge that one’s existence is inextricably intertwined with something great. Or perhaps, happiness is found in the way we enjoy our life’s journey and not exactly the way we end it. While we all wish that we end on the best note we could ever imagine, the truth is, we do not know how it will be. In the restlessness of my spirit, I found joy in sharing my life and its blessings by being a social entrepreneur. I decided to teach the subject at the Ateneo School of Government. In addition to finance and leadership, I studied Social Entrepreneurship while trying to earn my graduate degree in Harvard under Prof. Gordon Bloom. I met people who shared my own passion. And the thought of solving social problems brought hope to my almost cynical mind. Together with Steve Koon of China and other classmates in Harvard, we founded AvantChange, Ltd. with a vision of promoting social entrepreneurship in Asia to catalyze the formation of critical mass of social entrepreneurs in the region for training, incubation and collaboration. This critical mass of changemakers shall address the diverse and complex social problems in the region. While we were setting up AvantChange, Dean Tony La Vina and Harvey Keh of Ateneo, two people of boundless energy and compassion, were setting up the social entrepreneurship and leadership center in Ateneo. Destiny brought us together when Harvey sought Harvard’s help in putting up the program and Prof. Bloom referred him to AvantChange. A partnership was born. The social entrepreneur’s business is solving social problems. His aim is to change the world to transform it into a more humane place to live. Among others, he has courage to face the challenges of injustice, poverty, oppression, disease and lack of healthcare, environmental degradation. He looks at social problems as opportunities to do good. Muhammad Yunus is the best example of this when he revolutionized the banking industry with his Grameen Bank model. My class is a revelation to me. I see people of all ages and diverse backgrounds come together with such positive expectations to create change. Having an activist background, I observed that people clamoring for change oftentimes do so with fiery rage that eventually consumed them.
Photo by JANUS VICTORIA by Aina Lim* In Filipino, we call her ‘nanay’. Millions of women in the Philippines, in the countryside and in the cities keep to their homes where they know exactly what they ought to be: mothers, the light of the family. Till recently, few would expect these women to earn, much less be the instruments out of their family’s poverty. But 22 years ago, with a dream to help the poorest in our country, Dr. Aris Alip put his faith in these women and founded CARD: Center for Agriculture and Rural Development. From years of work in Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Dr. Alip and his colleagues had identified the country’s poorest as those without assets and access to banks and basic services. They also believed that until these people obtained capital to acquire something of their own, they were powerless to improve their lives and rise out of poverty. Thus, CARD was born on the principle of lending money -what we now call microcredit - to the poor. What started as a small operation is now the country’s largest microfinance institution: CARD MRI (Mutually Reinforcing Institutions), recipient of the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service. And as was Dr. Alip’s vision, CARD Bank is now substantially owned and managed by the poor. CARD’s beneficiaries are women from both cities and the countryside. They are organized into groups called Centers, where they gather and are educated on values, business, and current affairs. Before getting loans, the women must know what business they will engage in. Nanays might turn to handicrafts, raising livestock, growing vegetables, or running a sari-sari store. The first loan may amount to P2-3 thousand, to be paid over six months to a year. When this loan has been paid, a nanay can graduate to a bigger loan. As her business grows, CARD increases the amount available to her. Payment collection is strict business, done weekly by CARD’s loan officers during meetings. On the flipside, Dr. Alip says, “We can be very mean about microfinance, but when help is needed, we are very human.” When there’s a natural calamity or death in the family, there’s immediate moratorium on payments. Relief, shelter, and hospitalization are provided for by the CARD Mutual Benefit Association. In the case of business failure, help is extended through additional loans and business mentoring. “When a business fails, CARD is sad because we haven’t done our part. Our business is not to provide loans, but ultimately to alleviate poverty,” says Dr. Alip. Indeed, CARD’s business goes beyond lending. “There is life after microfinance,” says Dr. Alip. CARD would like the nanays to move past the level of microentrepreneur, into that of SMEs, if possible. To provide channels for members to scale up, CARD Business Development Services has partnered with business solutions provider, Microventures, Inc. (MVI), to expand the nanays’ network and distribution channels. Borrowing the concept of a ‘7-11 in the countryside’, CARD and MVI have created a sari-sari store chain through the HAPINOY Store brand. The dream is to have a hundred thousand HAPINOY sari-sari stores owned and run by nanays throughout the country. Not all nanays will expand their businesses, though. Many use their profits to send their children to school. Here is where Dr. Alip sees the power of education and how the second generation of CARD beneficiaries can bring their families out of poverty. “We now have several thousand nurses, teachers, accountants, engineers, bankers, agriculturists… Soon we’ll have lawyers. We have children who’ve graduated from the military. Hopefully, we’ll have generals soon,” says Dr. Alip. The children finish school, tell their mothers to stop working, and take over the family responsibility. Roughly, it takes three to five years to bring a family out of poverty, five to eight years to stabilize, and another five years to bring them to the next level so they don’t slide back into poverty. But looking at CARD’s nanays, they are happy and hopeful. It is amazing to see these women so empowered. By 2010, CARD hopes to serve a million nanays and their families. In terms of making a difference, that is no small number. (For more information on CARD MRI, you may visit www.cardbankph.com.) *Aina is a student of Ateneo School of Government Social Entrepreneurship Training Program at the Ateneo Professional Schools.
High school and college students no longer have to travel for hours to log on to the Internet, as the Sogod Community e-Center has become a center for e-learning in the community. Public school teachers in Sogod, Cebu, introduce new teaching methods to facilitate easy learning. They frequent the Sogod Community e-Center to do research on teaching aides. Before, teachers in the sleepy town of Sogod had to travel for two hours to access the Internet in Cebu City. “I always go to Cebu City to research on things I need for teaching,” relates Vivien Coming, a single mother and a pre-school teacher in her mid-20s. On the Internet, Vivien says that it is easy to find teaching aids, educational games, and stories that she shares with co-teachers and students. So, the long road trip was a sacrifice that she willingly endured because she saw the value of the Internet to her line of work as an educator. So when she learned that a community e-Center had been set up in Sogod, she thought that it was a “gift from heaven.” “We are very happy to have a community e-Center here in Sogod. It makes research so much easier, and I no longer have to incur huge travel costs,” Vivien said. Teachers like Vivien are not the only ones to benefit from the educational opportunities offered by the e-Center. Divina Santillan, who co-manages the e-Center with her husband Reynold, sees how people always look forward to the free basic computer and internet literacy program being conducted at the e-Center by her husband. “We also conduct free training programs on Excel, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint for those who want to learn these basic computer programs. Trainees always express satisfaction because they learned a lot of things,” she says. The free training that these two former out-of-school-youth-turned-community-mentors provide does not go unrewarded. The more they train, the more future customers they have, and indeed, the Center is flourishing due in part to the increasing number of high school, elementary and college students, teachers, cooperative members and townsfolk who have started using the facilities. The community e-Center in Sogod, Cebu, is one of the beneficiaries of the Last Mile Initiative Program of the USAID-funded EMERGE project. Working with World Corps, a local nonprofit organization, the LMIP program provided computers and upgraded existing units of the Center. LMIP also facilitated the Center’s new broadband connection that makes e-learning more enjoyable and efficient, and which has now enabled the Center to explore new revenue-generating applications like Internet telephony. *This is a guest post from the Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program at the Ateneo School of Government.
By Marielle Nadal Starting any venture is always exciting. There’s the idea that lights a fire under your backside; the one that gets you all worked up you can’t sleep. Then there’s the stage of infecting others with the idea, and the idea snowballing into something with legs. Then there’s the high of pulling it off, the shared ecstasy of doing what you love, and for social enterprises—seeing the results, and the impact of what you’ve helped bring about. Then, there’s the equally important satisfaction of issuing yourself your first paycheck no matter how small. After the adrenaline rush dies a bit, and the back-patting stops, the reality of sustaining a social enterprise begins. Two years ago, we were crazy kids who just wanted to make the world a better place by exercising whatever God-given, UP-trained talent we had as graphic designers, writers, photographers, web designers, animators and filmmakers. Two financial grants later, with a hefty number of projects under our belts (which fluctuated in size through both the lean and the happy times), and enough anecdotes to make for interesting presentations, we’ve learned that though circumstances sometimes point otherwise, the possibilities never end. Idea!s Creatives began with five crazy kids, but now we can rightfully say that we are five wiser kids. A bit frayed at the edges, and battle-worn, but perhaps shinier as the past few years have not only rubbed us raw at times, but have also allowed us to see and experience even more of the inspiration that got us started in this venture in the first place. As a multimedia and creative communications outfit that specializes in the advocacies of cause-oriented organizations, we communicate what we’ve experienced, first-hand and through others. We write, and share the experience with others who perhaps seek inspiration. We design images that break down information, and emphasize meanings that allow people to better understand concepts and ideas. We capture photographs that tell compelling stories. We design websites, bookmarks, pamphlets, books, newsletters, banners, campaigns, exhibits, annual reports and interactive CDs that, in one way or another, seek to get across a mixture of altruism, optimism, the stark reality of facts, and hopeful ideas that will somehow impact lives. We’ve worked with organizations big and small, from causes such as cerebral palsy, to advocating renewable energy, to promoting social entrepreneurship among the youth. Simply put, we do what we do because it’s the best way we know how to make the world a better place. We’re graphic designers who’ve become social entrepreneurs, and are ensuring the longevity of our endeavor by studying the nitty-gritty of running an organization (where else will you find a bookkeeper-cum-animator?). Oh how we’ve grown. What lies ahead, we feel, may be more challenging than a startup. But we give ourselves leeway to explore, to play, and to exercise, looking at things from an upside down point of view once in a while. We’ve ventured into organizing venues to engaging more people into what we do. And having more people share the view (of a county, or of a world we own), not only brings more hands into the equation of the work we face, but also deepens the spring where we draw inspiration. And as we multiply hands, we watch the horizon widen. Idea!s Creatives (www.ideals-creatives.com) is Rhea Alarcon, Bernice de Leon, Dan Matutina, Marielle Nadal and Jan Virnice Sering. Some other activities they’ve spawned as Idea!s are Design to Make a Difference (www.ideals-creatives.com/designdiff) and Pecha Kucha Night Manila (www.pechakuchamanila.com).
By: Clare de Guzman Amador We travel primarily for the experience and then after the experience, we tell our stories. Our stories set us apart—we may go to the same place but come home with different takes. We buy the same souvenirs but got them for different reasons for different people. Our photos are the same frames, still we show it to everyone. All because our stories are our own and each experience hits us at the core. Travel is one of the best ways to experience the greatness of a place, of a people. It almost always leaves a positive mark—something that changes us and makes us look forward to every sunrise. Youth Trip Philippines (YTRIP) began as a story. A story of traveling around the Philippines and how the experience can change us as Filipinos. Along the way, we figured, if only more Pinoys could do the same, things might just work better. After all, once we see how amazing our people are, how beautiful our country is—what would hold us back from loving and taking care of it? YTRIP is a youth-led non-government organization that promotes sustainable local tourism and responsible travel to widen horizons and make Pinoys value our country and heritage deeply. As we find our stories, we discover ourselves. For us, travel is one of the most enjoyable ways to express the best of who we are as a people. Founded in 2006, YTRIP is a small group of young professionals and industry advisers. We volunteer and devote time, effort, and resources to jumpstart educational projects, using travel and tourism as tools. Tourism, for YTRIP, is not just about movement, but the shift from one mindset to another. We see tourism as a tool for positive change, beyond economics and more on social impact and responsibility. So far, we’ve run several projects—we’ve brought yayas and kids to Museo Pambata, we’ve taught college students photography, clean-ups, and backpacking; we’ve learned about Filipino dance, music, and baybayin. For the long haul, we are working on our PiliPinas campaign: Piliin ang Pilipinas. Choose the Philippines by willfully supporting Pinoy products and places. YTRIP is also embarking on becoming a social enterprise to become more sustainable. There still remains the notion that traveling is a luxury. YTRIP believes that if frameworks, strategies, and networks on budget travel, sustainable tourism, and Pinoy culture are made accessible and experiential for more people, then more Pinoys will truly experience the Philippines. Horizons will expand, stories will converge, and we will no longer say, “wish you where here” because no one will be left out of the journey anymore. This is why we’re building our travel program with tour groups who have the same vision as ours, to promote great value heritage tours. YTRIP also hopes to create more opportunities for public school students to travel, as we develop our Field Trips for Public School Students program. Whether it was passion for the Philippines that gave birth to passion for travel, or the other way around, what’s important for us is that we have not run out of reasons to stay in this country. We have not run out of reasons to hope. Here in Pinas, we have 7,107 reasons to explore, 86 million people to meet, centuries of history to be rooted in, and a promising future, a national story to create. We always look forward to the next trip. *Clare de Guzman Amador is the founder of YTRIP. She is currently working in the office of a Philippine senator but hopes to focus full-time on YTRIP in the future. For more info, you may log on to www.ytrip.org.ph or http://ytrip.multiply.com. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cristina Liamzon* Many said it couldn’t be done--that there wouldn’t be much interest among OFWs for yet another training program and that the initiative simply couldn’t be sustained. That OFWs in Italy were only interested in working and earning an income as domestic helpers, nannies or caregivers to elderly Italians, that they didn’t have any time to spare, even on Sundays to attend training programs, especially one which was a year-long, and which focused on the subjects of leadership and social entrepreneurship. After all, the term social entrepreneurship is new and sounds vague for many. What examples could we show of successful social entrepreneurs, or social enterprises that the trainees could use as models to create their own after the training? Skeptics opined that it would be difficult to find enough trainees who would participate and finish the program and that it could be a waste of time, money and effort. Still, the Associazione Pilipinas OFSPES, a Rome-based NGO hoping to empower overseas Filipinos in Italy, attempted to pursue this dream. It all began in early 2007. We explored collaborations with the Philippine Embassy to Italy, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and OWWA and the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government to interest them in a project that would enhance the leadership and social entrepreneurship skills of our OFW’s in Rome, and then we did an extensive promotion and fund-raising for the program. Despite the initial tepid interest among Filipino communities and armed with limited human and financial resources but a lot of determination, a clear vision and much enthusiasm, the program was launched last April 6, 2008 with some 30 OFWs as trainees. By the second training module on May 18, this number had increased to more than 50 OFWs and youth who had heard about the first session and who fulfilled the essential requirements for participation. One Sunday for every month from April 2008 to March 2009, a formal training session would take place to create a new breed and cadre of Filipino leaders in Italy, which include several young people below 30 years of age. Mentors from POLO/OWWA staff, private sector managers and the Associazione Pilipinas OFSPES members have volunteered to help. Staff of the Ateneo School of Government also form part of this mentoring group using the Internet. Mentors in Rome provide advice and encouragement of trainees in-between the formal training sessions. Modules that have been given so far since April include: an overview of servant leadership and social entrepreneurship concepts; computer skills training, including understanding and utilizing Web2 tools and Word, Excel, PowerPoint programs; basic financial literacy; conflict management and negotiations. Succeeding sessions will cover: developing and implementing social enterprise plans (marketing, funds mobilization, etc); trainors’ training on financial literacy (budgeting, savings and investments); strengthening communication and facilitation skills; group building; business planning in Italy. Sessions with practicing business persons and leaders of Filipino communities are also planned. Most of the resource persons would come from Rome to handle the courses while the Ateneo School of Government would send resource persons for the modules on social entrepreneurship. Trainees have been enthusiastic about the training sessions, highly appreciative of this opportunity to expand their horizons, build new skills that can benefit themselves, their families, their communities and the society in which they live, whether in Italy at the moment or eventually back in the Philippines. This training has been made available to migrants who have yet to fully integrate into Italian society or are seeking new directions or livelihoods. The training program is now about 30 percent into its implementation and the results are already evident. Trainees have said their eyes have been opened beyond their current employment as domestics or caregivers. They are grateful for having learned many new things to be able to hold up their heads high, empowered and enthused and more importantly, fired up with a desire to share these skills with our other kakabayans. (Cristina Liamzon of Associazione PILIPINAS OFSPES, in Rome)
By: Lauren Wong* Being a born-and-bred Chicago suburbs girl, I love seeing the US triumph in water or on sand. My unwavering admiration, however, extends towards anyone who is a champion of human ability, not just the Americans. Jamaica's Usain Bolt, fastest man alive, and China’s golden gymnastics team are triumphs that the entire world can be proud of. Beyond them are hundreds of men and women who pushed their bodies to the extreme to qualify for the Games. All of these Olympic athletes, hailing from slums and country clubs and bombed-out towns and crowded training academies, are success stories in my mind. It's easy to forget that sports are not the sole domain of superhuman elite athletes. The human necessity to play transcends language, class, religion, and geography. It is only natural, then, to use sports as a tool for good. Whether you look at prison boxing programs to keep convicts clean or the Homeless World Cup, the power of social change through sports is evident. In the Philippines, sport-centered social entrepreneurship has begun to gain some ground. Christian Doroin, for example, has been working with Special Olympics in the Philippines for nine years now. Now on the Board of Directors, he still wakes up early on Saturday mornings to train people with physical or mental disabilities. The athletes, ranging from small children to older adults, get the opportunity to have their moment of glory when they compete against their peers. Sports teach them how to follow directions, become self-disciplined, interact with others as a team, and value fitness for continued health. "It's the lessons behind sports," Doroin explains, "that are really important. [Special Olympics] finds them a place in society by showing them how to live and interact with others." Internationally, playing fields and oblong-shaped tracks are being used as classrooms for important life education. Grassroots Soccer combines HIV/AIDS awareness curriculum with soccer to give young people in Africa the skills they need to live AIDS-free lives. They use popular soccer stars as strong role models and work AIDS awareness education into soccer training to affect the largest number of young Africans as possible. In North America, Girls on the Run uses running to show preteen girls how to develop self-confidence and healthy lifestyles. Instead of contrasting their figures to those of the ultra-skinny beauty icons, GOTR shows girls how to respect their bodies and incorporate fitness into their lives. Sports keep kids dribbling around basketball courts instead of answering to juvenile detention courts. Sports connect kids, rich and poor, onto the same court to learn the value of teamwork. Sports stress discipline and hard work to reach goals and excel. Those social entrepreneurs who take advantage of all that sports can offer will find a great vehicle for social change. The Olympics has shown just how powerful sports can be. Its beauty lies in its ability to unite the entire world, for just two weeks, in an appreciation for how much power one individual or team has. That’s exactly what social entrepreneurship is all about, isn’t it? *Lauren formerly interned at Ashoka Philippines.
by: Harvey S. Keh Last year, I taught a Social Entrepreneurship class at the Ateneo de Manila University-Loyola Schools as a lecturer for its Development Studies Program. One of the innovations that its director, Leland Dela Cruz, did was to provide an option for its graduating students to develop and implement a social enterprise instead of doing a regular research thesis project. There were eight social enterprises that were developed as a result of this program. One of them was Impukan, which was the work of Jaymee Duran. Realizing that the Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, Jaymee worked with the Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB) to develop a social enterprise that would raise funds and resources even before disasters strike. Through the funds and resources raised via Impukan, the SLB will now be able to respond to disasters quicker and at the same time enable it to also provide psychosocial therapy and support to the victims of these natural calamities. With the proliferation of the use of plastics and tarpaulins in our society, Maurene Papa and Kat Arandela's Bill-A-Bag (Billboards transformed into Bags) is a social enterprise that aims to promote recycling as a means of helping save our environment. Bill-A-Bag turns used plastic tarpaulins and transforms them into fashionable bags, coin purses and wallets. By doing so, they not only earn by selling these products but more importantly, they are able to impart a strong message that recycling and the promotion of sustainable development can be a way of life for everyone. To view some of their products, you can visit their website at http://billabag.multiply.com/. In the field of health, one of the perennial problems of our country has been the inaccessibility of life-saving drugs for majority of our people. This was the problem that Gino Pineda and Miguel Hitosis tried to address through their own social enterprise entitled, Doktor Swabe. Doktor Swabe runs a twice a week radio show over Radyo Veritas 846 that aims to educate and promote to poor Filipino families the use of generic medicines. At the same time, Doktor Swabe would also partner with drug companies who produce generic medicines to help them establish outlets that would sell these generic drugs in depressed communities. If our national hero, Jose Rizal was still alive today, these young social entrepreneurs would do him proud as they continue to live out Rizal's famous saying, "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan". More on the other young social entrepreneurs who are creating genuine change in our country in the coming weeks. To know more about the activities and projects of Ateneo de Manila's Development Studies Program, you can contact (02) 426-6001 local 5218. Learn more about Social Entrepreneurship by joining the 2nd Beyond Bottomlines: An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship Seminar organized by the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and Ashoka-Youth Venture Philippines. For more information, please send an email to Katrina Wy at email@example.com or you can call (02) 497-7614. *Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government and is also the Program Manager for Ashoka-Youth Venture here in the Philippines.
By Tony La Viña* Nation building is best done place by place, village by village. The combination of social entrepreneurship and technology solutions is making this possible in many places in the country. This weekend, I went around Negros Occidental to visit the Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc. (AIDFI), a citizen organization that specializes on developing and disseminating appropriate technologies to help small and poor upland farmers improve their farm-based livelihoods. As the Ashoka representative for the Philippines, I have been on the lookout for social innovators, and a number of people have pointed me to the ground-breaking work that Nonoy Moraca and his colleagues in AIDFI have been doing, especially in water technology. They have developed and installed their technology all over the Philippines, starting with their own island Negros, but they have also gone out to other countries like Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and, more recently, in Afghanistan. Using the hydraulic ram pump as the flagship technology, AIDFI is solving an age-old problem – lack of access to water – and helping upland farmers and communities improve their communities and uplift their lives. The problem of access to water has haunted many poor communities in the Philippines. This is especially true in the uplands where water is even more important because of the role it plays in the livelihood of farmers. What is ironic is that there is an abundance of water sources in these places. The problem is taking them out of the ground or from the source and delivering them to the communities and households that need them. This is where AIDFI comes in. Working with partners – usually citizen organizations as well as local governments – they install hydraulic ram pumps in communities that need them. Their work has already benefited more than 16,000 people and they hope to reach even more. As Nonoy shared to me, “What makes me happy is helping people have water.” This is a simple dream but a challenge to implement. What is interesting with AIDFI is the model they are following in scaling up their work. For them, it is not just a matter of introducing technology but preparing communities to receive the technology, ensuring ownership by the local people. Being social entrepreneurs, they follow the principles of long-term sustainability: costs are shared by the local governments and by the residents of the barangays (villages) that benefit from the technology; because of this, AIDFI does not rely as much on outside funding as other citizen organizations do. In addition to cost-sharing, communities are also asked to take on commitments to preserve their water sources, implementing watershed and forest protection programs that produce even more benefits to them. In the end, the ram pump is just an entry point: AIDFI delivers a cluster of environmentally friendly and community-based technologies that are all intended to improve and uplift the lives of poor communities. To help disseminate their technologies, their office has a demonstration site and a coffee shop in Bacolod city. Yesterday (Monday, July 21), we had the chance to visit one of those barangays - Canlandog in the town of Murcia. We were accompanied by Nonoy Moraca, the executive director of AIDFI, and hosted by barangay captain Ernesto Pinafiel, and the Barnagay Council of Canlandog. The project has received support from the Murcia government under the leadership of Hon. Esteban H. Coscolluela. We rode a big truck for more than an hour on rough roads until we got to the site of the ram pump installed a few weeks earlier by AIDFI. Aside from the pump itself, they had also built the infrastructure to distribute the water – from the pipes, the reservoirs and the cluster faucets. For the first time, a community had water and they expressed how grateful and happy they were. Nonoy Moraca too must be very happy. *Tony is the Dean of the Ateneo School of Government and the Country Representative for Ashoka Philippines. For more information on social entrepreneurship and the Ashoka Fellowship, you can go to http://philippines.ashoka.org or send an email to philippines (at) ashoka (dot) org. For those who wish to learn more about social entrepreneurship and how to become an effective social entrepreneur, the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government together with Ashoka-Philippines will be running Beyond Bottomlines II: An Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship this coming September 20,2008 (Saturday), 8 am to 5 pm at the Ateneo de Manila-Professional Schools campus in Rockwell, Makati City. If you are interested to attend this seminar, you can send an email to youthventureph (at) gmail (dot) com or contact Katrina Wy at (02) 683-0262 local 141.
By Katrina C. Wy* I started running my own business at the age of 19. It was an online shop at a website called Multiply. All of my friends visit this site everyday and getting an account is free so I decided to try posting stuff for sale and see how my friends (my potential clients) would react. I chose to sell trendy but really affordable clothes. It was a low-risk business as the only capital I needed was for my inventory. I figured that if I fail to sell anything, I can still keep the clothes for myself and it wouldn’t be such a waste of money. I was shocked, however, by the response I got from my friends. They really liked the clothes I was selling and was extremely happy at the price I was selling it to them. My clientele increased as the months went by mainly thru referrals and other people who usually do their shopping online. After a month, I was already shipping my clothes all over the country and I even got inquiries about shipping my products to the US! I expanded to include luxury items and electronic goods to my product line. I was earning a lot, enough actually for me to not ask money from my parents to pay my condo, my bills, my shopping and living allowance. It was such a great experience for me as I was earning money through something that I was really passionate about. What’s more interesting is that I have friends who came up to me to say that they really admire me for being able to set up and run my own business while I was still in school. They asked me for advice on how to start their own businesses and some of them did and are now running their own small but successful businesses. Starting my own business was easy since I had the resources. My parents helped me find suppliers and people to produce my designs. I was taking up Management Engineering in Ateneo, which taught me the basics of starting up a business and running it. Others who want to do the same thing can find help in Youth Venture, an organization that aims to get young people interested in entrepreneurship, setting up their own civil society organizations or other informal programs to develop leadership. Young people are encouraged to “Dream It, Do It and Grow” their own social ventures that will benefit communities. The Youth Venture staff guide young dreamers throughout the whole process of formulating, launching and running their social ventures by providing them with professional assistance, technical support, mentoring, skills training and seed funding. One such example of a youth-created and youth-led organization that is changing lives is Alay Ni Ignacio (ANI). ANI was started back in 2000 runs summer programs for 3rd and 4th year public high school students to prepare them for college. ANI also hopes to shape young people’s character and values in the principles of magis and service. ANI helps around 200 high school students every year. An administration team provides extra-curricular activities such as computer exposure, field trips, career talks, open house for the parents to see their kids in school and also a support group that the students can run to. Aside from helping the public school students, ANI also helps their volunteers to become better persons. Volunteers are made to remember that if dreams for a better Philippines is to be achieved, ideas must not stop with ideas but must be followed through with concrete actions, and actions must not be random acts of kindness but a planned change. Through the help of Youth Venture, kids who don’t have the resources can put their ideas into concrete actions to help them start a venture that will help their community while helping them grow as a person. *Katrina is a Program Officer for Youth Venture Philippines (under Ashoka Phils.)