When I first got started working, a job at a bank was the goal. Maybe because my dad was a banker. Now with an ever more competitive market, jobs are far fewer and harder to get. Still there are new options. One is starting a social enterprise. You get a source of income while also helping the community.
June 27, 2012
The Department of Tourism recently launched its campaign on 100 and more reasons why it is more fun in the Philippines. This has made Filipinos everywhere feel more proud of their country and has created a way of enticing foreigners to come to the Philippines.
This is especially good for the economy, but if we want to be strategic about creating jobs to alleviate poverty, we have to think beyond the obvious.
Aside from targeting foreign tourists, I propose that we redirect our efforts to ensure that Filipinos stay in the Philippines not because of blind faith, nationalism, or patriotism but because of the many great things this country has to offer.
I am proposing social entrepreneurship and innovation, a more sustainable and results-oriented initiative. Rather than seek employment and depend largely on imports for the goods and services we need daily, we can create businesses that cater to these needs and consequently provide employment.
What we are experiencing now can be attributed partly to how we have been conditioned — that right after graduation, we should seek employment. Very often, the big dream is to land a job in a multinational company.
This is good; don’t get me wrong. But this opportunity is usually available only to the elite, whom the hiring criteria favor. The unemployment figures tell us that most of our graduates have not yet realized their dreams. Now is the best time for academe to advocate that starting a business is an option for the more than 500,000 students who graduate yearly.
Early this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Enchanted Farm of Gawad Kalinga (GK) in Angat, Bulacan. The Farm is GK’s platform to follow through what it had started, which is building homes for the community. Through the Farm, GK is providing livelihood to the community.
During that visit, I was inspired by how the community had been structured. Social entrepreneurs enable their adopted community to contribute to the huge task of nation-building. These social entrepreneurs are college students, fresh college graduates, and those who used to be employed but who later decided to pursue social entrepreneurship. They created jobs for the community by using raw materials sourced from the Farm.
In the Farm, I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of interns from other Asian countries, Europe and the Americas. They are there to learn not only about our culture but also (and more importantly) about the social enterprise platform of the Farm. They see much hope for the Philippines. Yes, they believe that Philippines has the potential to grow and become a developed economy.
Quite ironic, isn’t it? They see it, but we do not. As Tony Meloto, the man behind GK, puts it, “Is it always like this? That we Filipinos are the last to realize that being a Filipino is a blessing and that having the Philippines as our home is among the best gifts from God?”
His rhetorical questions made me realize that God had not made a mistake when He made us Filipinos. The best time to truly be a Filipino is now. We have to go back to the basics and appreciate that we are a nation with rich and vast natural resources, including some flora and fauna that can be found only in our country. We have to leverage on this to start our social enterprises that will provide jobs to the community.
The response of the students, faculty, and administration of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business has been overwhelming. In fact, at the start of De La Salle’s second centennial, we will push for a year-long program of sustainable awareness and involvement in the Farm, putting up our own social enterprise in and for the community.
Florenz C. Tugas is the External Affairs Director of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. A full-time faculty member of the Accountancy Department, he specializes in Auditing and Assurance and Management of Information Technology courses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of De La Salle University, its faculty, and its administrators.