Meaningful Change that Lasts: Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainability

on August 17, 2016.


By Kevin dela Cruz

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According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, today’s generation of young professionals consider their personal values (56 %) as their greatest influence in making any significant decision in life. Looking at the opportunities made available to the youth, the support system that both private and public sector is offering enables this demographic to pursue their passion projects in accordance to the values they uphold.

From leadership workshops to immersions, a young person is transformed to become an innovator who will develop a project that would enable change in his or her community. In the same way, from ideation sessions to seed funding allocations, such a project would be translated into relevant development outcomes with partnerships enabled by the session organizers. Truly, there is now an influx of change makers in the various development fields in the past three years. But the main question still remains—how long will these projects last?

According to Dr. Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, the pursuit of the social enterprise model (or the triple bottom line approach consisting of people, profit and environment) in development initiatives enables both the civil society and the partner communities to sustain the continuous attainment of the shared outcomes. Such an approach highlights the need to focus on adequate partner and resource mobilization to instil creativity and innovation in extending the effects of a particular development intervention.

For example, a young innovator would like to develop an alternative technology that provides slum communities in Manila alternative lighting solutions. With the intention of starting the project, he reaches out to target business partners to whom he can pitch the project to obtain a substantial fund for the pilot implementation. But, as companies had denied him one by one on his initial proposal, he found a solution that, instead of looking at this as a development project, he developed a business model for his company clients to not just purchase and benefit from the technology, but also to help more communities in their lighting needs given the increasing market reach of the enterprise. This particular account is actually a parallel narrative to the Liter of Light enterprise movement founded by Illac Diaz.

Why should the youth of today pursue social entrepreneurship? There are three main reasons: vision, action, and transition. First, the discipline of business applied in development interventions enables one to view the vision not as a far-fetched proposition. In fact, with the rise of donor dependent projects, the equal prioritization in fund mobilization enables the initiative to be independent in establishing program milestones, not co-developed with a certain funding entity.

Second, taking action in an enterprise would mean learning different innovative approaches. Failure would not be seen as a loss, but as a stepping stone to further success. Third, the project, as the months or years would pass, would be cascaded in terms of its leadership and management to the communities when they have achieved a certain level of project ownership. Transition of the intervener would be easy this way given the priority of the social entrepreneur to focus on a certain facet of the business. The social enterprise empowers the community to thrive and to prosper by themselves redeeming their self-esteem and self-identity in the society.

With the current set of Sustainable Development Goals being adapted by different government and development organizations globally, the general call to action for all development champions and organizations would be to shift to a different perspective in propagating change, that which focuses on sustainability. And, with the youth as the primary mover and innovator of this action, any young person given a pipeline of opportunities would be able to maximize the partnerships and to look at the future with a clear plan in mind set into stone for 2030 by a social enterprise.

 

About the Author: Kevin de la Cruz currently works for the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development as Knowledge and Research Manager.

 

Disclaimer: The view/s expressed in this blog are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

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