Monday, May 9, 2011

Looking for Young Changemakers in the Philippines

There's a PhP 100,000.00 check waiting to be claimed by the right kind of Changemaker who can use it to turn a good social change idea into a reality.

Are you ready to be that person? 

What sort social change are you ready to fight for? 

And how far are you willing to go?

If you've got a one-weekend feeding program for your local public school, then you're not the one I'm looking for.

On the other hand, if you've got something that digs a little bit deeper into problems and puts forward a solution that's more sustainable, then please, read on. You just might be the Changemaker I'm talking about. You see, there's a specific type I'm looking for - the Social Entrepreneur.


They are a new breed of Changemakers with a bigger vision, no longer content to just dole out a few care packages every Christmas season. Instead they see that, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. :

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

On top of seeing that there are problems with systems is the recognition that traditional ways of "helping" also have their flaws. Nobel Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus says, (rather harshly, but hey, he has a point!)

When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it. Charity becomes a way to shrug off responsibility. But charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about the lives of the poor. Charity appeases our consciences.

So, if charity is not quite cutting it, and we're up against a vicious system... then what?

Well, enter the Social Entrepreneurs - people who have the innovative ideas to change the system, and crazy enough to dare and go against the system. My favorite definition is from a man named Bill Drayton who founded an organization called Askoha. And it goes:

Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they revolutionize the fishing industry.

But here's a more technical definition, also from Ashoka:

Social entrepreneurs act as change agents for society, seizing opportunities others miss and improving systems, inventing new approaches, and creating solutions to change society for the better.
They change the face of  business by spotting social problems and issues and finding innovative ways to address them.
They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide scale change.
Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.


Now back to that PhP 100,000.00 check...

There is a competition called "I Am a Changemaker 2011" sponsored by some wonderful people over at the British Council and Starbucks Philippines.

From 1 June 2011 to 23 September 2011, they are hoping for a continuous flow of your awesome ideas in the form of business plan proposals. The ones that wow them the most get seed money to turn those plans into reality, as well as training and mentoring opportunities.

Oh, and that's one winner each for Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR. (Yes, at PhP 100,000.00 per winner).

On top of that, there's an additional PhP 100,000.00 towards seed capital for the plan that bags the Starbucks Shared Planet Award.

So if you are a Filipino citizen between the ages of 16 and 28, and feel like you are the social entrepreneur type, then get crackin' on that business plan!

They'll stop accepting entries at precisely 5:00 PM on September 23, with the shortlisted proposals announced on October 7th.

Shortlisted teams will travel to Cebu to receive training from an expert flown in from the UK prior to the semi-final round of presentations on October 27th.

Final presentations and awarding will then follow on the 28th.

Here's a little bit more information on the competition:
- Who can join?
- What are they looking for?
- About Social Enterprises (From the British Council website)
- Competition definition, important dates and guidelines

If there's anything else you want to know but isn't available on the links mentioned above, then you can email changemaker @ or call Ana Tan / Jennifer Domingo at (02) 9141011 - 14.


Since I've been talking about social entrepreneurship in theory throughout this post, I thought I'd leave you with some actual businesses to read about.

Check out the winners of the "I Am a Changemaker 2010" Competition:
NCR Winner: The Good Food Company
Luzon Winner: Isla Culion Souvenirs
Visayas Winner: The Gasa sa Guso Group, Pangan-an Island (3GPI)
Mindanao Winner: Entrepreneurs Responding through Social Service (ERSS)

And here are some of my personal favorite social enterprises in the Philippines.
(Click on the names to go to their websites.)

If you're really captivated by the idea, then I suggest picking up a copy of How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. Here's my review on it.

Happy reading, and good luck to all those who decide to join the competition. I hope to meet you at the final presentations!


I just confirmed that the UK expert being flown in for the training is Tommy Hutchinson, Founder & CEO of i-genius.

i-genius is a world community of social entrepreneurs with members in over 90 countries. Its aim is to provide support to social entrepreneurs, encourage them to connect with one another and inspire more people to become social innovators.

i-genius Academy provides business training courses for entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs.

You can follow i-genius on FacebookTumblr, FlickrYouTube, Slideshare, and LinkedIn.

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