Sunday, March 18, 2012

Entrepreneur says social enterprise best model for the future

Entrepreneur says social enterprise best model for the future
Philippine News Agency
March 18, 2012

CEBU CITY -- An entrepreneur has said that social enterprise, aside from helping the less fortunate, is the best business model for the future.

Speaking at the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) general membership meeting, Microventures Inc. president Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said social enterprise simultaneously addressed spiritual, material and environmental divide in society.

While he lauded the Filipinos for being charitable, especially during times of calamities, he said there were some poor people who did not need charity.

Instead, they needed help acquiring skills to better themselves, he said.

Aquino, who organized the Hapinoy Stores with his business partner Mark Ruiz in 2006, likened successful social enterprises to “a new form of people power.”

“There is dignity in livelihood. If the poor are able to build a business on their own, there is a dignity there that can’t be bought,’ he said.

He said that by building business skills of sari-sari store owners and connecting them with companies, they were empowered to support themselves.

“As their stores grow, so will they, as individuals,” Aquino said.

Aquino said that as they grow their businesses they also become better family members.

Microventures service microfinance organizations and their clients through the Hapinoy Store program.

Aquino said that their company started with a dream to make the “lowly’ sari-sari store powerful.

With the sari-sari store being at the bottom of the retail chain, Aquino said they wanted to bring hope to micro-entrepreneurs, about 800,000 of these being sari-sari stores.

He said organizing owners of these stores allowed them to create a network of sari-sari stores and “transform their mindsets” from being a poor, helpless store owner to an entrepreneur with a business that could be scaled up with proper management.

While he admitted initial steps introduced to store owners were often met with resistance, he said they would later on willingly implement more discipline in running their stores and see things differently.

The Hapinoy program won the United Nation’s Project Inspire award against 400 other social enterprises.

He and Ruiz were also named Asian social entrepreneur of the year by the World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation for Social Enterprises.

Aquino also joined the board for Rags2Riches in 2007, a business that helps underprivileged women weave rags and turn these into fashion accessories.

He hopes that in five to 10 years, a similar model of the Hapinoy Program will flourish in other developing countries.