Entrepreneurship for a Cause

October 29th, 2015
BPI Sinag Grand Awardee: Karaw Craftventures received P500,000 along with a credit line up to P500,000 from BPI Ka-Negosyo. (In Photo L-R) Ginbee Go, BPI Head for Retail Loan; Jaime Augusto Zoberl de Ayala, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation; Leciel Ramos and Paul Andrew Orpiada of Karaw Craftventures; Fidelina Corcuera, Executive Director of BPI Foundation; Cezar P. Consing, BPI President; and Atty. Jaime Holifena, VP for Social Development, Ateneo de Manila University.

BPI Sinag Grand Awardee: Karaw Craftventures received P500,000 along with a credit line up to P500,000 from BPI Ka-Negosyo. (In Photo L-R) Ginbee Go, BPI Head for Retail Loan; Jaime Augusto Zoberl de Ayala, Chairman and CEO of Ayala Corporation; Leciel Ramos and Paul Andrew Orpiada of Karaw Craftventures; Fidelina Corcuera, Executive Director of BPI Foundation; Cezar P. Consing, BPI President; and Atty. Jaime Holifena, VP for Social Development, Ateneo de Manila University.

Throughout the years, entrepreneurship has evolved into a multi-faceted industry.  Aside from the traditional brick and mortar type of businesses, franchise business models, there have been until now technology platforms and e-commerce business models. We also see more and more social enterprise models that encourage pursuit of passion, profit with purpose.

Social entrepreneurship has emerged in the country for years now. But what is social entrepreneurship? Social entrepreneurship has a wide range of definitions but the textbook definition is that it is the application of business techniques and strategies through a specific business model to help solve social problems. To many, social entrepreneurship focuses on solving the social problem and less on its viability and scalability. But In reality, a good social entrepreneur must generate income in order to sustain the business model and continue addressing his social cause.

In Go Negosyo’s 10 years, we have met a number of social entrepreneurs who continue to help different sectors of the community through their programs and enterprise. Their enterprises address social issues by providing solutions and helping create a lasting and reliable system for the continuous development of every community.

For example, Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip of CARD-MRI which provides loans and financial assistance to micro entrepreneurs in different parts of the country; social entrepreneur couple Mark Ruiz and Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Hapinoy and Rags to Riches; entrep-advocate Pacita “Chit” Juan who established ECHO Environment & Community Hope Organization) Store with Reena Francisco and Jeannie Javelosa; Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm initiated by Tony Meloto; Human Nature of Dylan and Anna Wilk and Camille Meloto; and Nanette Medved-Po of Friends of Hope which sells bottled waters for the establishment of classrooms in different schools in the country.

Recently, Go Negosyo met 10 inspiring social entrepreneurs who are making a positive difference in their respective communities through their enterprises. They pitched in the recently concluded BPI Sinag Awards. BPI Foundation in collaboration with Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ASCENT) and BPI Ka-Negosyo launched this program to empower young Filipino entrepreneurs with social mission.  From more than 150 social entrepreneurs who applied and registered, only 40 participants were invited to join the Acceleration Bootcamp and lastly, only 10 finalists made it to the pitching and awarding ceremony.

The panel of judges include Jim Ayala of Hybrid Social Solutions, Go Negosyo Angelpreneur Josiah Go of Mansmith and Fielders, Chit Juan of ECHOstore, Injap Sia of DoubleDragon Properties and Injap Investments, and Mark Yu of SEAOIL Philippines and Go Negosyo’s Ramon Lopez.

Let me share with you the stories of the top five finalists from which we can all get inspiration to also contribute positive change in this country:

1. Bayani Brew
Bayani Brew is one of the promising social enterprises in the country. Led by Herxilia Protacio and Ron Dizon, Bayani Brew offers a refreshing drink made from locally-sourced ingredients such as camote tops and lemon grass.  Bayani Brew sources its ingredients from 4 farming communities including Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. Currently, Bayani Brew offers two flavours: Kick-ass Lemongrass – brewed from all-natural lemongrass and pandan, and Purple Leaf – brewed from all-natural sweet potato purple leaf tops.

2. CocoAsenso
CocoAsenso is a social enterprise founded by Asa Feinstein. CocoAsenso’s goal is to increase economic opportunities in remote region by helping virgin coconut oil manufacturers reduce production costs through the establishment of small-scale coconut processing centers in remote farming communities.

3. Plush and Play
Fabien Courteille hails from the other side of the world but has fallen in love with the Philippines. Because of this, Plush and Play was born. Plush and Play is a social enterprise born in the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm which creates Filipino toys delighting the young ones in the Philippines and the rest of the world. It aims to restore the Filipino seamstresses’ livelihood and pride in their craftsmanship. There were former garments companies’ employees who were dislocated.

4. Siglo
One of Go Negosyo’s young entrepreneurs, Alvin Tan started his social enterprise, Siglo. Siglo is a platform providing long term sustainable solutions to alleviate poverty by providing access to technology, capital, information, and major market supplies. It has tools for loans management, micro-entrepreneurship, modern intelligence and data mining, ads and research, and a livelihood tool that works via text messaging, an app, or via the web.

5.  Karaw Craftventures
Addressing the issue on recycling, Karaw Craftventures is a design hub that upcycles scrap materials into novelty gifts and lifestyle products. Aside from this, their Ragpet Project is a flagship brand that helps in the rehabilitation of women inmates in Naga City District Jail by providing sustainable livelihood activities and introducing an in-prison skills development program for poverty and crime reduction.

Karaw Craftventures won the BPI Sinag and has been awarded with P500,000.00 and a credit loan of up to P500,000.00. Each of the top five finalists were awarded with P200,000.00, six month mentorship, and access to the Ateneo Business Incubation Center.

As we promote entrepreneurship in the country, we present alternative models that can bring even more positive change – empowering not only the entrepreneurs, but the community it serves while protecting the environment for sustainable growth models. Let’s support social entrepreneurship, and to me, the sustainable and scalable way to develop social enterprises is to link them to a sustainable market. Big companies can play a vital role in their development. They can link social enterprises, say farmers’ cooperatives or associations of small producers to their supply chain so that it can assure a regular stream of supply transactions to level-up the condition of these underprivileged sectors.