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Pro-Poor and Social Entrepreneurship Bills (Reaction on Sen. Bam Aquino’s Filing)

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There has been news from Senator Bam Aquino’s Facebook account that he has ” filed seven bills that aim to empower the poor through jobs and livelihood opportunities”.

Disclaimer: I am not proclaiming this to advertise Sen. Aquino’s initiatives and endeavors – this is merely to give insights, reactions, and comments on what he endeavors to do.  After all, these are the advocacies that are indeed close to my heart as an aspiring entrepreneur, educator, and as a current researcher on the said field.

I know that as a fresh graduate from DLSU, I still have much to learn when it comes to CSR, social entrepreneurship, and the policies that may or may not help these movements achieve their intended benefit: progress and solving society’s most pressing problems.

Although some people in the web and even in media doubt Sen. Aquino’s intentions for running in office as Senator (some stating that this may just be a ploy to extend the “Aquino dynasty”), I support Bam because of his track record as a practitioner of social entrepreneurship.  This is why seeing news from Facebook that he has filed pro-poor bills instigated somewhat a kind of relief in me; that this man perhaps indeed has a plan to bring the synthesis of his social entrepreneurial experience into influencing policy-making.

I am hopeful that this is not just a ningas-kugon attempt; only time will tell.  Let time be the one to test Sen. Bam’s resolve in influencing social entrepreneurship and poverty alleviation through policies.

Onto my humble insights.

I want to zero in on two  particular bills that Sen. Bam filed below:

2.     The Fair Competition Bill, which aims to “protect consumer welfare, advance domestic and international trade and sustained economic development by… regulating monopolies, anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant power, and anti-competitive measures.” It also establishes the Philippine Fair Competition Commission;

7.     An expansion of the Poverty Reduction through Social Entrepreneurship Bill (PRESENT), filed in the 15th Congress, which supports the creation of social enterprises and offers incentives and benefits to business that genuinely help the poor.

 

First, let me acknowledge my practical limitations as I admit that I still have a lack of experience in terms of doing actual social entrepreneurship work.  However, I am an avid learner of the field and have read researches and books that may perhaps arm me with enough tidbits to utilize in making comments or insights.  Should readers agree or disagree, feel free to discuss via the comments section below this post.

First bill

Personally I believe that the two bills are benevolent in spirit.  On the first bill, I would just like to raise Muhammad Yunus’s insights on social entrepreneurship, which he wrote in his book “Building Social Business” (2010).  Yunus propagates that since social enterprises are true businesses, then ideally, there should be minimal incentives or support from policy – social enterprises should let market forces or the “invisible hand” of competition determine whether a social business idea is viable or not.

I have two conflicting opinions on this one.  On one vantage point, Yunus’s claims are meritorious; a social business enterprise must be viable and should not have to rely on incentives to be truly viable.  If a social business enterprise needs to rely on incentives, then what happens if the law is changed for whatever reasons?  What if political factors crush the incentives?  Then the social business enterprise loses its crutch… then becomes crippled?  These are indeed valid points of view and my recommendation to Sen. Bam is to not “baby” social business enterprises too much that should a law be ramified or lose its implementation, the business would invariably suffer and need to close.  This view emphasizes the need of true sustainability, meaning the capacity of a business to be at an on-going concern without the need to rely on policies as crutches.

On another vantage point, since social enterprises chase not one but two bottomlines (even three, if they pursue financial profits, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability), it is only fitting that there should be separate incentives that can aid their growth.  Social business enterprises can be different species if compared to traditional corporations; and perhaps different rules and policies must govern these enterprises.

Seventh bill

I wholeheartedly support social enterprises as vehicles towards poverty and even environmental problems alleviation.  However, my only concern is the measurement of how a business “genuinely helps the poor”.  In light of the sickening pork barrel scam that used bogus NGOs as puppets of politicians’ puppets, there is indeed a concern on implementation.  What is the meaning of “genuinely helping the poor”?  Will it include multinational or traditional corporations with CSR programs?  Will philanthropy be considered?

I am coming from the point-of-view that there is no universal social entrepreneurship definition as of the moment.  Some entities may use this bill to put a facade of authentic social entrepreneurship wherein they’re indeed traditional profit-maximizing entities with social responsibility on the side.  I believe the spirit of this bill is not on traditional businesses, but more on actual for-profit social enterprises that have a hard time balancing financial and social objectives.

My recommendation to Sen. Bam is to develop transparent measures that will decipher whether an existing enterprise is truly a social enterprise.  We do not want incentives, funds, etc to go to greedy businesses that will utilize this bill and wear on superficial masks.  There must be a strict way of determining whether a social enterprise qualifies for benefits under this bill.

Final words

I hope my humble thoughts can help people recognize the value of social entrepreneurship and how policy can influence their existence.  This blog post is written in the spirit of pursuing the Common Good, in the name of practice, continuous learning and education, and research.

Lack of Policies or Lack of Execution?

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Another corruption and graft related issue has surfaced in the Philippines.  According to Inquirer.net, there are officials who allegedly directed their pork barrel funds to bogus NGOs so as to pocket their assets.

This is a bit frustrating, especially since this gives NGOs more negative publicity.  Yes, perhaps there may be some organizations who are merely tax shields or are indeed “ghosts” that suck the funds out of the tax-funded pork barrels for the personal gain of those in power.  But the true NGOs suffer from this as well; those who pursue social good with integrity and sacrifice.  Perhaps social enterprises may suffer from these kinds of things as well as this may destroy reputations of organizations that pursue the common good.

On to the topic of this blog post, is it about the lack of policies or the lack of execution?

According to my professors in DLSU, the Philippines have good laws related to preventing corruption.  However, there is indeed a lack of implementation – a lack of execution.

I think it is time that the public be the one to execute the law through public demand, or public pressure.  If we can find a way to utilize, harness, organize or even systematize the People Power phenomenon, then we can be the watchdogs of corruption.  The dawn of this digital era amplified with smartphones capable of using social media, cameras and digital recorders can serve as the country’s CCTV in looking out for undesirable actions from those in power.

Perhaps there should be pressure for every organization to be transparent.  If we can harness the all-seeing eye of this becoming increasingly digital world, then we can demand transparency from all kinds of organizations.  This will make covering the tracks of corruption harder.  This will put pressure to those in power to really invest in projects that contribute to the common good.

Let the mass media news always show a regular update on transparency reports from officials.  Let social media news websites raise discussions and fora related to these kinds of issues.

For far too long we have been searching for the medium by which we can amplify our eyes.  We have wished for Superman-like x-ray vision to determine proofs of corruption looming behind those promises of those in power.  Let us use the power of our digital era and be the ones to execute our policies.

Copy Paste

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Artists will always begin with a blank canvas; and if Murphy’s law, even in its most little ways of messing with an individual, distorts one’s creative juices then say hello to disaster.

How can an artist innovate when it is downright challenging to invent new things? Can someone really sustain being original all the freaking time?

Painting creative, innovative things to a canvas does not need  extreme originality. At least that’s what some business authors want to say.

No, it’s not finding something to plagiarize. No, it’s not about copy pasting entire ideas and what have you and claim it as an obra maestra.

It’s like doing a paper – finding a passage or quote so compelling that it begs to NOT be paraphrased. It begs to be copy pasted. But take note – only a passage or quote, and the proper source must still be cited.

What I am talking about is perhaps what Kim and Maugborne (Blue Ocean Strategy) advocated as looking across different industries to borrow certain elements that can be implemented to another industry as an innovation. Example would be the subscription model adamant in publications being implemented by software industries as service – like Google Apps subscriptions.

Perhaps it is also what Seth Godin advocated in his manifesto (Bootstrapper’s Bible) about copying business models from another industry and applying it to your own.

Copy pasting, when armed with savvy for creating synthesis of seemingly disconnect industries leading to the birth of a New Truth leads to innovation.

Then, somehow, the blank canvas will then come to life. No amount of Murphy’s Law can now mess with one’s innovative juices. Everything that goes wrong will go wrong, but everything that goes wrong is an opportunity to innovate.

Social VS Societal: Which is Which?

Social VS Societal

I write this post not to give answers, but rather, to ask necessary questions.  This is borne out of the simultaneous growth of two revolutionizing ideas:

Social Entrepreneurship and Digital Entrepreneurship.

As a student of business, one will encounter jargon that may be confusing at times.  Just a test, try defining these terms:

Social Entrepreneurship.

Social Marketing.

Social Business.

Social Media Marketing.

If one tries to find definitions to these terms, then they will know if one truly does his research that there seems to be… different answers.  To better illustrate, I would like to zone in on one particular word: SOCIAL.

Earlier, the term “social” referred to mostly anything to do with society.  For example, a generally accepted definition of social entrepreneurship is using business principles in solving society’s problems.  As the marketing guru Philip Kotler expounded on, social marketing is then using the principles of marketing to positively change behavior.  This spectrum may be summarized as the societal point of view.

However, the dawn of social media, blogs, and the Internet gave birth to a new meaning of being social – being connected to society.  Go to your favorite bookstores and you will see books with titles such as “Social Business”, “Social Marketing”, etc., which are entirely different from Kotler’s definition and how he uses the word social.

This raises a very important question: shouldn’t there be a clearing up of jargon?  If left unchecked, there may be miscommunication and unfortunate repercussions in the business and education sector.

Should we use different, more precise terms such as “societal marketing”, “societal entrepreneurship” – replacing the vague “social” with the term “societal”?

Or should we accept that there can be two uses for technical jargon?  The problem with this lies in advancing research and further studies.  This affects communication and even searching, for people might find the wrong information they need.

Some have equated Internet with instant information.  But information not organized is as destructive as a lethal weapon, for it destroys and misleads the thinking mind – hampering possible exponential growth in research and communications.