If you’re looking for a sign to get into social entrepreneurship, this might be it.
What is there, however, in social entrepreneurship that makes it one of the buzzwords in different sectors today?
For one, social entrepreneurship is not a new concept. The term was first mentioned in a 1953 book by Howard Bowen titled “Social Responsibilities of the Businessman.” Since then, various movements and definitions of the concept arose. What was consistent through all those years, however, is social entrepreneurship’s goal of solving social and environmental issues through innovative business solutions.
Simply put, social entrepreneurship is all about doing business for social good.
In the country, British Council Philippines reports that there are around 164,000 social enterprises operating. These social enterprises have contributed P1.2 million to the economy and employed around 17,000 full-time staff. Majority of these social enterprises are agriculture-based, comprising around 19 percent of the entire social enterprise sector. With these statistics, there’s no doubt that the local social enterprise sector is developing at a fast pace.
What other reasons are there to join the social entrepreneurship bandwagon? Here are my observations so far:
The support ecosystem is growing
From the business, development, government and academe sectors, there are plenty of initiatives being launched to support the growth of the local social enterprise sector. Many are buying into the positive social impact that social entrepreneurship entails. Like any other form of ecosystem, this is good, because regardless of their functions, each sector has a role to play.
Whether it be from partnering with a local community to create an innovative product or service, creating a sustainable initiative in a marginalized sector, drafting legislations that support social enterprises, or conducting research to better understand the field—you name it, different sectors are already doing that.
Various organizations have also begun to take it a step further by converging these different sectors through multi-sectoral forums, round table discussions, and what not. These convergences are meant to ignite collaborations and streamline the different efforts in the sector. The fact of the matter is that the local social enterprise sector is growing, and there’s nothing that can stop it at this point in time.
Everyone can be a ‘social entrepreneur’
It’s important to note that a ‘social entrepreneur’ is not merely a person doing good business acts—it’s also a lifestyle and mindset. Everyone can be a social entrepreneur regardless of where they come from. If I were to describe social entrepreneurship in its simplest form, it’s basically doing what’s humanely good in any organization.
When we say “good,” it’s something that we think is right based on our knowledge, gut feeling and past experiences. When you’re a doctor, you’re considered good when you provide your patients the best healthcare they can possibly have. In this simple manner, you’re already being a social entrepreneur.
Hence, more than being a good business act, social entrepreneurship is a lifestyle and mindset.
There are more issues than ever
In the Philippines alone, we have a ton of social, environmental and economic issues to deal with. The most important thing, however, is on learning how to deal with these issues as opportunities.
One of the things I’m consistently taught of is to look beyond the issues and identify what steps can be taken to solve them. This requires a systemic form of thinking that integrates various aspects of the issue—from how it started down to the specific people you’re going to partner with to craft your solution. One more important thing is to keep asking yourself why you’re solving that issue, and why it matters.
Needless to say, anyone can be a social entrepreneur, and there’s nowhere to go but up for the local social enterprise sector.
Ian Benedict R. Mia is a research and technical assistant from the De La Salle University Center for Business Research and Development–Social Enterprise Research Network. He advocates for social entrepreneurship through volunteer work in Alexa Mira Society Inc. and MakeSense Philippines. He welcomes comments at [email protected] The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.