CSR Series: YFC Learnings and Bo Sanchez

The final prayer for our YFC Shared Learning was filled with these series of words:

“Thank you, Lord!”

“Salamat po!”

“Gusto lang po namin mag-thank you!”

“…kahit na medyo maulan, biniyayaan pa rin kami!”

“… di Mo kami pinabayaan!”

“Salamat din po sa mga darating pang mga blessings!”

This kind of gratitude is very rare.  Most of the time, people will be praying for supplication, for blessings.  Most of the time, people will pray to receive, not give thanks.

And this is what Bo Sanchez, in his new book (which unfortunately I forget the title as of the moment!) wrote.  We should learn to be thankful for the things we have received, what we are receiving, and what we will receive.

Bo tells in his book that this is the way to attract daily miracles in our life.  Perhaps this helps, because this kind of philosophy inevitably leads a person to look at life half full, that somehow a Higher Being, and in my case, God, will shower blessings and will continue to do so out of love.

Taking this to a level of business perspective, isn’t it amazing that businesses can become enablers of gratitude for people to spread blessings?

Let businesses become enablers of gratitude – from the past, present, and future!

CSR Series: Monooligopolitics

For me, the highlight of our COSORES class discussion today lies on the concept of “imperfect competition”.  If I’m not mistaken, (economics majors please correct me!), the assumption of capitalism and economics is that the invisible hand of the market will enable justice and fairness due to perfect competition.

Now I know what Yunus was talking about when he said that capitalism has failed.  The invisible hand theory of Adam Smith seemingly failed to regulate powerful corporations capable of selfish monopoly and oligopoly.  Moreover, there are times that government, though discouraged by free-market extremists, failed to regulate these predatory businesses from being abusive.

Failure through monopoly.  Failure through oligopoly.  Enabled by bad politics.

CSR Series: Pattern-Breaking Social Change

Our mentor in the Social Entrepreneurship and Good Governance Training Program at ADMU said that social entrepreneurs must introduce:

“Pattern-breaking social change”.

Then I remembered my father telling me that positive change can only happen, especially in the Philippines, when:

“People get sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Is tremendous poverty not yet enough?  Do we need more tantrums from Mother Nature before we act and take things seriously?

It’s time for us to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.  We should be, in our own ways, be inducers of pattern-breaking social change.

I know that what I write is easier written, easier said, than done.  And I know that I do not yet have the best answers to these issues I am writing here.

But I know that I’m in the process of finding the right answers, the right things to do.  Maybe, this is my own little leap of faith, that since what I’m craving for is for the greater good including my good, perhaps Someone  out there will guide me however invisible His hand is.

It’s time to change the status quo.

CSR Series: The Path of Thorns

I remember playing an exciting role-playing game in the PlayStation1 called “Suikoden II”.  It is a game where the hero leads a rebellion army to unite the state called Dunan.

Before the climatic final war, Shu the strategist asks the hero, (paraphrased) “Would you choose the easy path, the path of the ordinary and safe, or the path of thorns, the path of the glorious king?”

The path of thorns is uneasy, is risky, is unsafe.  But at the end of it lies the greater goal, the greater purpose.

There are businesses that have failed and gained massive losses.  What more if CSR, touted as “cost”, is integrated?

Entrepreneurship is a hard road, with only a select few from the many being able to succeed after their initial and jumpstarting years.  What more if the enterprise is a social, eco/green, or sustainable one?

This is the path of thorns that the change makers must traverse.

CSR Series: Career Uncertainty

It has been quite a year.  Since January, I have been eager to explore a career social innovation, particularly through social entrepreneurship.  Some would deem me as to being too worried – I still have one academic year to decide what to do after graduation.

Fast forward to 7 months later, I’m still torn whether to engage in corporate or start dedicating my life to social entrepreneurship.  I believe there are people in the same predicament as me.
After an internship with the Visayan Forum Foundation, doing a thesis on sustainable entrepreneurship in the Philippines, having a part-time internship in the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundatoin, studying a class of corporate social responsibility (COSORES), and enrolling in a Social Entrepreneurship and Good Governance Training Program in ADMU, I’m still searching for the answer.  Funny how these things may appear to be many in number, and sometimes others may mistake me that I am 100% certain of my career direction, but still I’m uncertain.
What I know is that I know little.  Ironically, the more I search for answers and competencies, the more I realize that I know little.  And this little knowledge and experience sometimes paralyzes me to have a leap of faith.
However, what I also know is I’m searching for a career I can integrate sustainability and responsibility while having the ample material wealth I need to start saving for the future.  My short term need is the material wealth security, but my long term need is to have spiritual wealth as well.
Almost 10 months to go before I decide whether to start in corporate or start early in my pursuit of social innovation.  I admit, all the activities I am engaging with in these times can be so tiring.  But I know they are essential if I want to have a clear, informed decision of what to do with my career.
So, I pray that God would give me the strength to continue this ardent pursuit to integrate a lifelong career with what is the greater good.  To continue with the classes and the internships and give it my all.
My own hero’s journey continues.  Will I immediately take the call to the unknown or special world?

CSR Series: YFC Reflection – Prayers and Spirituality

Awhile ago, we helped conduct the YFC Sports Festival at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament near Mindanao Avenue and Quirino Highway.  The activity started and ended in prayer through song worship.

And boy, it has been a long time since I’ve been part of a song worship.

Then it occurred to me: what if spirituality became an integral part of any organization?  Is it not a wonderful and satisfying feeling to offer activities to a Higher Being through glorifying songs of worship and exultation?

Is it not great, even if one considers himself an atheist, to offer actions and activities in the name and pursuit of Common Good?

I believe that if activities and programs would be seen more than just activities, if they would be seen as offerings for a Higher Purpose, then ethics will follow.  The great thing about spiritual organizations is that all of their functions have an innate greater intent – to celebrate God or whatever ones consider as the Higher Being.

As Peter Drucker mentioned, businesses can learn from nonprofits.  And I’d like to add that businesses can learn from spiritual organizations as well.

Above the profit motive and all the financials, we humans, whatever religions or faith we believe in, have greater purpose.  We are not here just to survive, but rather, fulfill our greater destiny.

It’s amazing how my part-time internship in the foundation, the shared learning in COSORES, and my continuous search for engaging in businesses with higher purpose converges in this one thought: spirituality.

Business gurus such as Philip Kotler has recognized how the market is shifting towards spirit-driven consumption.  Visser has contended how CSR must now focus on sustainability as well.  We are living in times where finally, businesses and organizations touted with brutal efficiency are now being imbued with the needs of the spirit to achieve higher purpose.

Truly, exciting times.

CSR Series: Social Entrepreneurship and Governance Training Program

I have enrolled in a short course in Ateneo De Manila University, which is dubbed as the “Social Entrepreneurship and Governance Training Program”.  This class is very interesting, and in the vernacular, nakakakaba, since most of the students are graduates already and in fact, some already have their own social enterprises.  Only I and James Fernando are the undergraduates in this course.

However, this makes the whole experience more interesting.

We are witnessing startup social entrepreneurs practice and offer insights on what I learn from my COSORES class – the importance of integrating business ethics to business entities.  Indeed, ethics is embedded to the business model since social enterprises use profits and market-based solutions to address social problems.

And again, pardon the blatant redundancy, but this dynamic of a class is very interesting.

In the Philippines where corruption is so institutionalized, how can social entrepreneurs remain ethical, especially in applying for business permits and needing political connections for support?  The first session, though introductory, allowed me to realize how the collaboration of the public and private sector is vital to the success of social entrepreneurship.

I am very excited to meet established social entrepreneurs, even the rarer sustainable entrepreneurs.  I think this is a great chance to network, and even set up interviews with sustainable entrepreneurs for our group’s thesis.

This term is a period filled with opportunities to explore CSR and social innovation.  I’m enrolled in COSORES and the Social Entrepreneurship short course, having a thesis on sustainable entrepreneurship, while being a part-time intern for the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation.

I sincerely hope that I can integrate social innovation to my long term career plans – get a lucrative life yet make the society and environment richer as well.  This is the materialization of my almost impossible dream to be strike the best of all worlds.

CSR Series: Prologue to the Potential YFC Involvement

We will be involved in the Youth for Christ (YFC) for our Shared Learning activity in COSORES.  I think this is a great exposure to see how a Christ-centric organization functions, and how we can integrate our business student skills and talents to help their organization achieve their goals or execute projects.

I remember encountering a book, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s by Peter Drucker.  The management guru’s book is about what lessons companies and businesses can learn from nonprofits.

And indeed, this learning experience will show us in its simplest form, how organizations work which are not driven by profit.  Even more interesting?  They are driven by a benevolent of God – Jesus Christ.

If Ms. Pia, our professor, does approve this shared learning experience proposal, then I think we will be uncovering great insights.  Exciting, indeed.

CSR Series: On Dignity and Virtues

Ethics has been a very delicate issue especially in business. Numerous principles and frameworks, such as utilitarianism and deontology, have been developed and even applied to the business setting to address the need for enterprises to have guiding principles.

This is a tricky situation, indeed. How do you mix ethics in an environment where results are measured down til the final centavo? How do you apply principles to highly competitive results-driven performers?

Can virtues such as honesty, fortitude, and temperance directly achieve multi-million dollar profits?

How do you mix soft and intangible things to an entity that must maximize income and minimize cost?

This is where CSR and business ethics enter.

It disproves the notion that businesses are just profit achieving entities filled with selfishly-driven individuals. Instead, it sees using different lenses, that businesses are also organizations with benevolent intentions, fueled by human beings capable of being stewards of God’s creation.

We are entering a major paradigm shift, wherein these noble things are being appreciated and are now even used ti mitigate the harshness of exploitive capitalism.

We are in a world where one does not anymore need to sell one’s soul to the devil ti achieve greatness. And this is the way that things ought to be, transcending the past, the present, and the future.

CSR Series: CSR 2.0 and Marketing 3.0

CSR is a continuous growing field. According to Wayne Visser, the old model of CSR is evolving – from Corporate Social Responsibility, it is rephrased to Corporate Sustainability and Responsibity.

From Social to Sustainability.

This addresses the need to address not just the poor and the society, but also the ecological implications of business and corporate processes.

The thing is, as a business student, the field is growing fast and is even being married to development and sustainability issues. The assumptions of pure profit maximization and cost minimization are being challenged by our need to take care of the planet.

It is exciting that we are entering a revolution where established principles are being challenged and are in fact evolving. Philip Kotler (2010) wrote Marketing 3.0, which contents propose that we are shifting to spirit-driven consumption. People consider how the products and services affect the society, and whether the consumers, through patronizing a brand, can contribute to a certain cause. For Visser, he is now establishing the new CSR 2.0 which shifts towards sustainability.

The challenge for me now is to marry my desire to earn a good living while integrating the value of sustainability and responsibility. CSR 2.0 and Marketing 3.0 will be my foundation principles.