Saturday, March 17, 2012

PBSP: Empowering people through enterprise

PBSP: Empowering people through enterprise 
By Grace Melanie I. Lacamiento 
The Freeman
March 17, 2012

CEBU, Philippines - Empowering socially and economically-challenged people to succeed on their own by managing small businesses like sari-sari stores can already make a difference in the society.

As the keynote speaker of the recent Visayas annual membership meeting of the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Microventures Inc. President Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino said that social enterprise is a model that can create transformation and sustainability that everyone can achieve.

“We believe in empowerment and social enterprise is a new form of people power. It is the best way to simultaneously address the environmental, material and spiritual divides in society,” Aquino said.

Aquino, who is a co-founder of Hapinoy store together with Mark Ruiz in 2006, said that the program intends to empower sari-sari store owners with good management skills and opportunities to be linked with manufacturers and other companies.

“Hapinoy store dreamed of a lowly store that can be a powerful store. This is a hope for micro-entrepreneurs,” he stated.

As the smallest unit of the retail chain having about 800,000 sari-sari stores all over the Philippines, Aquino said that working with the store owners and helping them transform their mindsets and uphold their dignity can improve the economy.

However, he pointed out that social enterprise is different with charity.

“We need charity. We definitely need that. But our contention in social enterprise is not all poor people needs charity. What they need is financing, training and management expertise to develop themselves,” Aquino said.

He added that micro-entrepreneurs have the capacity to do more on their skills, capital and opportunities, unleashing the power in communities to fight poverty and illiteracy.

Aquino encourages the sari-sari store owners to work together and be a stronger force of the society moving towards a tipping point, running their stores and perceiving things differently.

Managed by the Microventures Inc., the micro entrepreneur enhancement program aspires to be nationwide within two to three years and envisions itself to be globally-inclined in the next 5-10 years.

Hapinoy was among the five social entrepreneurs from Asia recognized as “Asian Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2011” by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.