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Invitation to Ateneo de Manila’s 3rd Social Entrepreneurship Conference

19 Oct

The Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Cordially invites everyone to a Social Enterprise Conference entitled,

“Enabling Social Enterprise: Harnessing Opportunities for Social Impact”

at the Ateneo de Manila University Campus

on November 8 to 9, 2012



Conference Overview

Social enterprises seek to address urgent social problems, such as income poverty, basic needs deprivation, and environmental degradation. Because of the urgency and scale of these problems, social enterprises must always be on the lookout for opportunities to widen and deepen their impact. The 2012 Social Entrepreneurship Conference from November 8 to 9, 2012 will provide various stakeholders in the social enterprise sector a venue to assess existing opportunities as well as seek out new ones to further empower social enterprises.


The 2012 Social Entrepreneurship Conference will discuss four key opportunities available to Philippine social enterprises. These include financing opportunities for social enterprises, the Social Enterprise Bill, technology and social entrepreneurship, and partnership opportunities with government.


These four opportunities will be discussed in four panels over a span of two days. Workshops will be conducted on the first day to provide a venue for smaller groups to discuss the challenges at greater length.


This event is co-presented by the Development Studies Program of the Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippine Social Enterprise Network, and the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Consuelo Foundation, the Foundation for a Sustainable Society , Oikocredit and Peace and Equity Foundation.


For details please contact:

Tel. No.: 426-5659
Emails: / /


Some Notes on Social Entrepreneurship

15 Feb

By: Leland Joseph R. Dela Cruz

One of the buzzwords in development circles these days is “social entrepreneurship”. A lot of people are looking at social entrepreneurship as a possible solution to various social problems. And a number of people claim that they are social entrepreneurs or do social entrepreneurship.

As I listen to people talk about social entrepreneurship, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that the term means different things to different people. And it is also clear to me that a lot of people are not conscious of the fact that these differences in definitions exist.

I think there are at least five ways in which the term social entrepreneurship is used: social innovations, ngos as social entreprises, community enterprises, bottom-of-the-pyramid activities, and corporate social integration.

Before I proceed, let me say at the onset that I don’t intend to come up with a definitive notion of what social entrepreneurship is.

I think that one basic distinction in the definition of social entrepreneurship is the distinction between social entrepreneurship as necessarily involving earned income activities (whether through the sale of commodities or services) or social entrepreneurship which does not necessarily involve earned income activities.

The first notion of social entrepreneurship can be equated with social innovations and this definition would make the claim that social entrepreneurship does not necessarily involve earned-income activities. If an entity offers innovative solutions to social problems, then it is a social enterprise. In a sense, this is the broadest definition.

I was at a meeting with some foreigners recently and for them, Gawad Kalinga is a social enterprise because it is innovative and uses management tools like marketing.

Those who define social entrepreneurship as necessarily involving earned-income activities may object to this classification (not meaning to say that GK doesn’t do a world of good). They might say that Gawad Kalinga may engage in social entrepreneurial activities (like livelihood provision or earned income activities in some provinces) but Gawad Kalinga and Pathways themselves are not social enterprises because many of its activities are not earned-income activities.

A variant of this first notion is to say that social enterprises are financially sustainable innovative activities that solve social problems. Even if that enterprise does not engage in earned income activities, so long as it is financially sustainable, it becomes a social enterprise. So if the entity has a stable donor base or operates on a non-depleting endowment, it is a social enterprise. If we assume for example, that GK has a stable donor base, then according to this definition, it could be considered a social enterprise.

Part of the background here is that many Philippine NGOs have relied on assistance from foreign foundations and a lot of these foundations have pulled out or reduced budgets for the Philippines. This has threatened the existence of some NGOs (and forced others to close). So it has become a challenge for NGOs to find a way to become financially sustainable. Entities like Ventures for Fund Raising principally teach NGOs and other entities how to raise funds through donors in a sustainable way.

One route a few NGOs take is to engage in earned-income activities themselves. I heard of an environmental NGO, for example, that offers services to corporations on how to be more environment-friendly (office practices, greening the supply chain). In that sense, the NGO is entrepreneurial and therefore might consider itself a social enterprise because it addresses social problems in a financially sustainable manner (without relying on donors).

Aside from two definitions, there are three other definitions which necessarily involve a combination of earned income activities and the poor. The difference will be how these two are combined. These kinds of social entrepreneurship activities are usually referred to as social business enterprises.

One of the most popular definitions of social entrepreneurship is that of livelihood provision for the poor. We might call this the community-based business enterprise variant of social entrepreneurship. So when the poor produce and sell commodities or services with NGO assistance somewhere in the process (product development, quality control, marketing, etc), then it is a social enterprise.

Within this definition there are many variants in terms of the assistance the NGO provides (as mentioned earlier in the parenthetical remark) and in terms of the extent of involvement of the poor in the business enterprise. There are some enterprises which employ the poor as a way of augmenting income. On the other end, there are enterprises that are owned by the poor.

In between, there are many variants. Among the community-based social enterprises that are owned by the poor, there are some enterprises owned by the poor which are managed by others while there are a few which are managed by the poor themselves. Sometimes the poor own small businesses and the NGOs help integrate products from many poor communities and market them.

Quite apart from these community-based social enterprises, some people consider bottom-of-the-pyramid activities social entrepreneurship. We had visitors from Sta. Clara University recently and they were talking about a social enterprise project to provide water pumps for the poor. The enterprise was a traditional business selling water pumps to the poor to improve the lives of those who buy the water pump. What makes this a social enterprise is that it meets multiple bottom lines: profits (or at least financial sustainability) and addressing a social problem.

This is one step away from notions of corporations as social enterprises. If corporations make products economically accessible and this improves the lives of the poor, these corporations might claim that they are social enterprises. The telcos, for example, have vastly improved the lives of the poor by offering affordable telecommunications services. Manila Water improves the lives of the poor by connecting underserved communities. And while these telcos and Manila Water help improve the lives of the poor, they also make money out of these activities.

I’ve attended meetings where people bandy about the phrase social entrepreneurship but I get a sense that they use it these many different ways. Not being conscious about what definition we bring along with us often leads to people talking past each other or may lead to misunderstanding.


The author is the Director of the Development Studies Program of the School of Social Sciences, Loyola Schools of Ateneo de Manila University. This article was first posted on the  Facebook page of the author (August 11, 2009).