Civil society and the private sector have launched initiatives to address various problems that beset the country. Some of these initiatives have taken the form of social enterprises.
An example is the Negosyo Mo, Bukas Ko (NMBK) Program, the social advocacy arm of Go Negosyo. The program provides out-of-school youth (OSYs) opportunities to work and save a portion of their salaries, so that they could later enroll in a formal course. NMBK’s unique social value proposition consists of producing young people that have finished either a TESDA or college degree and are armed with some working experience, in order to be in a better position to obtain well-paying jobs.
I believe in the potential and value of social entrepreneurship and thus wish to discuss some of its salient features. One characteristic is the dependence of these organizations on other institutions for the acquisition of resources. Organizations need resources for survival and success, but seldom possess all the resources they need. Some resources are found in other organizations, thus inter-organizational exchange is necessary, resulting in interdependent transactions. Social entrepreneurship involves the deployment of various strategies to manage these external constraints, dependencies, and power relations.
Social entrepreneurship also involves creating a value network. This means converting intangible assets to other forms, so as to realize greater value. Johanna Mair and Oliver Schoen, in their article published in the International Journal of Emerging Markets in 2007, found that “successful social entrepreneurial organizations proactively create their own value networks of companies that share their social vision; develop resource strategies as an integral part of the business model; and integrate their target groups into the social value network.”
Additionally, James Austin, Howard Stevenson, and Jane Wei-Skillern, in their article published in the January 2006 issue of Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, noted that social entrepreneurship calls for the need to manage a wider diversity of relationships with funders, managers, and staff. This includes working collaboratively with other nonprofit organizations, business, and government to attain the resources critical for the organization.
NMBK illustrates this diversity of relationships and the creation of a network of like-minded organizations, through the various stakeholders it has gathered together and manages in its network. It relies on its supply-side organizations to provide the OSYs, which previously included the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and currently, the St. Vincent Foundation for Children and the Aging, and the Abot Alam—a Department of Education initiative that aims to profile and integrate a million of the country’s OSYs.
For its demand-side organizations, NMBK partners with employer-companies in its network, such as French Baker, Shopwise, PR Gaz Haus, Mekeni Food Corp., RFM, and Citimart among others, to provide entry-level jobs to the OSYs. NMBK also relies on its training partner, the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. to provide its LEAD Workshop to the beneficiaries. NMBK continues to widen its network of collaborators, seeking more companies that wish to provide jobs to OSYs. In turn, these firms obtain a source of young and motivated workers for their operations.
The understanding of social entrepreneurship can contribute to the creation of more enterprises with social missions, and insights on how to manage them. In a country that is pressed to find solutions to social problems, this is a welcome piece of knowledge.
The author is an assistant professorial lecturer of De La Salle University, and the project director of the NMBK Program. Her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The views presented are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of DLSU and its administrators.