Alliance Pushes Social Entrepreneurship Bill


MANILA, Philippines - An alliance of farmers, workers, community enterprises, business associations and fair trade groups is pushing for the approval of a measure designed to institutionalize social entrepreneurship (SE) nationwide.

''It is about time that we push for a bill that deals with poverty on a sustainable approach,'' Dean Tony La Vina of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) said during a stakeholders' meeting to launch the campaign.

The participants organized the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Coalition after tackling the proposed Social Enterprise Bill that they want President Aquino to support.

ASOG co-convened the PRESENT Coalition with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society (FSSI.)

Social Entrepreneurship covers social mission-driven wealth creating organizations that serve the poor as primary stakeholders with at least double or triple bottom lines.

Bottom lines refer to other missions, other than profits, that respond to social and ecological values that benefit society.

Italy, United Kingdom and South Korea have legislated measures on SE.

SE began in the US in the 1970s as a response to economic downturns and cutbacks in federal funding.

On the other hand, Europe has turned to SE as a major measure in reaction to the welfare states crisis in the 1980s.

''As a field of study, SE had been studied for 20 years. SE entails innovations designed to explicitly improve societal well-being,'' Lisa Dacanay of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) said.

SEs in the country are comprised of about 30,000 people involved in cooperatives, community-based enterprises, microfinance institutions, small- and medium-scale industries.

They range from industries that promote organic products and agriculture-based commodities like coffee, peanuts, rice, muscovado sugar and innovative products as bamboo delicacies, specially-made furnitures and handwoven products, citronella oil, geotextiles, charcoal briquettes (from coconut shells), herbal medicines and other products.

''We are proposing an agenda for change through SE and we call on the state to play a major role in providing the necessary support to make Social Enterprise sector succeed to benefit the poor in a sustainable manner,'' stressed Jay Bertram Lacsamana, FSSI executive director and co-convenor of the PRESENT Coalition.

Lacsamana explained that the Social Enterprise Bill will provide existing and potential SEs all the social rights as a legal brand and to make government play a strategic role on redistribution of wealth that the market could not play because of its own limitations.

''The capitalist drive of profit is what drives markets. If we let market economy rule the day, government cannot do its social role to ensure that the poor are economically productive,'' he said.

Around 50 SE practitioners from all over the country, members of the academe and civil society organizations have united to push for the Social Enterprise Bill in a gathering at the University Hotel of the University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-Diliman) last week.

The PRESENT Coalition, La Vina and Lacsamana explained, is supporting the Social Enterprise Bill as it aims to create a vibrant SE sector.

They added the localized economy will be vastly different from what we have now since it is a socialized economy for the poor that is characterized by sustainable employment, opportunities and other transformational changes that markets alone could not provide.


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