Hope is still there for social entrepreneurship to pave path for a better tomorrow for all
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(CNS): Dr Marie Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, defines social entrepreneurship as 'a game changing strategy to mainstream social enterprises to help the poor/ marginalized and women at the grassroots become key partners in multi-stakeholder innovation platforms for developing inclusive, sustainable economies; and to partake of the value and wealth created in ways that transform their lives and communities'.
Lisa aptly describes social enterprises as hybrid organizations that have arisen in response to poverty and inequality. While they are like NGOs in the sense that they are social mission driven, but, unlike NGOs they do not depend on grants to pursue their mission; rather they are more business like and create wealth. But unlike ordinary businesses, they create and distribute wealth to the poor who are their primary stakeholders.
Glimpse of some successful social enterprises
Here is a glimpse of some successful social enterprises that are transforming lives in South East Asia:
- Alter Trade Foundation Inc & Negros Organic & Fair Trade Association (NOFTA) has 729 small farmers as its members, (311 of them being women) who are engaged as suppliers for organic muscovado sugar to fair trade markets at local level, in metro Manila and also in the international market in Germany. They have been helped to acquire Organic and Fair Trade certification; negotiate better terms with the sugar mills, and move up the value chain as majority owners of NOFTA Fair Trade Haus - the trading and marketing arm of this social enterprise group.
This partnership has helped the poor sugar workers to become entrepreneurial farmers. NOFTA's member-households have transformed their lives, moving out from the sub-human conditions of hunger and poverty to one of decent living. Imelda Cervantes is one such woman who, from an asset-less agricultural worker, has become a farmer-leader of NOFTA. In partnership with Alter Trade and NOFTA, Imelda has led her association of agrarian reform beneficiaries not only to be the best supplier of organic sugar, but also to serve as a vehicle for crop and income diversification and community development.
- Sultan Kudarat Coffee Ventures Inc (SKCVI) is the social enterprise arm of the NGO- TRICOM, which has partnered with an indigenous people's organization - the Kulaman Manobo Dulangan Organization (KMDO). SKCVI is one of the 51 community-based coffee enterprises (CBCEs) comprising the Philippine Coffee Alliance, which engages 34221 farming households, 200 of whom belong to indigenous communities. At least 31% of these CBCEs are led by women like Juanita Mamo. From being a voiceless indigenous woman in a male-dominated tribe, Juanita is now the elected chairperson of the Council of Elders of KMDO. Through this partnership, women and men members of the KMD tribe in Sultan Kudarat are engaged in the production, processing and marketing of Kape Dulangan- their own brand of coffee that caters to a growing local market.