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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Foundation searches for young social entrepreneurs

THERE are many success stories of social enterprises taking off, but most of these are in Manila. Proponents of a contest seeking to award social entrepreneurs hope to find the next success story in the provinces.

The BPI Foundation and Ateneo Center for Social Enterprise (ASCENT) are going on provincial roadshows to promote the BPI Sinag Challenge, a business plan competition aimed at empowering entrepreneurs with a social mission. Yesterday, they were in Cebu.

BPI Foundation executive director Faye Corcuera said they are targeting young entrepreneurs so they can grow in sync with the country’s “pulsating economic energy.”

Corcuera noted that in spite of the high growth the Philippines has experienced in recent years, the poverty rate remains at 26 percent and there are 2.56 million who are jobless. Aside from wealth not trickling down to the poor, she said there are many social problems that need addressing.

“Solutions are within reach. The private sector can do its share of putting in investments that can create jobs,” she said.

Corcuera hopes they can find young business savvy entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks that would lead to good profits and benefit society. She said it is this young group that makes up the majority of the country’s population.

They named the competition Sinag, which is the Filipino word for ray of light, because they hope these young entrepreneurs will serve as “a positive burst of light and change to communities that have been in the dark for so long.”

The contest is aimed at entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 35 who have business ideas or existing enterprises that address social issues. The business must be financially sustainable and should not have received cumulative funding in excess of $50,000 of P2 million.

Finalists undergo a six-day business bootcamp at the ASCENT in August, where they are mentored on skills they will need to propel their business. Five winners will get seed money of P200,000 while the overall winner will get an additional P300,000.

Corcuera said that even if some finalists do not go home with money, they can still benefit from BPI’s network of clients, professional bankers and partners who will be on hand during the bootcamp to offer mentorship.

ASCENT director Danilo Ocampo said he is excited about this partnership, as he feels they are the competent body to handle the bootcamp, as they run six courses on social entrepreneurship to fourth year students of the John Gokongwei School of Management. He added that they are the Philippine member of the Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Institute, a network of business schools that has incubated and accelerated many social enterprises around the world.

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