COMPANIES interested to venture in social enterprises need not to look too far, a social entrepreneur yesterday said.

“You don’t have to create social enterprises. You may use your own business to give people new perspective. You may start promoting social entrepreneurship with what you have,” said Jef Menguin, a leadership advisor and one of the speakers during the Social Entrepreneurship Conference organized by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry held yesterday at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel.

He said businesses have resources to transform the everyday behavior of employees into something that would lead to a collective movement of good choices.

Menguin noted that business owners try different approaches to engage their employees into a noble cause while still generating income to sustain and continue the desired social cause.

Social entrepreneurship is the attempt to draw upon business techniques and private sector approaches to find solutions to social, cultural, or environmental problems.

One of the few ways to engage employees into this advocacy is exposing them to civic engagements. He suggested companies transform their team building activities into social building.

“You can’t make an effective team with a team building activity in one day, but if you make them work for a social cause, you will make them a team,” said Menguin, adding that once employees see meaning in what they do, they will improve and become effective employees of the organization.

Social entrepreneurship in the Philippines covers 2.5 million Filipinos living in poverty, according to the 2014 Institute of Social Entrepreneurship in Asia and Oxfam.

Amid the popularity of the “business with a cause” model, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 7 Director Asteria Caberte said social enterprises today are still city-centric and haven’t yet expanded to the countryside.

The current taxation system where the same criteria is being followed by large and micro entities; gap in skill competencies; access to finance; and troubles in navigating the fiscal and regulatory policies are some of the challenges encountered by small players, according to Caberte.

But she quickly said opportunities are present, as the government ramps up its efforts in pushing entrepreneurship in the rural areas through programs such as Negosyo Centers, shared service facilities, and SME Roving Academy.

Awareness on social entrepreneurship is gaining traction, with some companies capacitating their employees to gain additional skills, reaching out to farm communities to include them in the value chain and reviving a dying industry by giving them the necessary technology.

Exporter Ramir Bonghanoy, president and chief executive of Bon-Ace Fashion Tools Inc., for instance, has invested in training his employees to be multi-skilled. His company also gives out trainings on financial management.

Cebuano fashion designer Dexter Alazas of Alazas Atelier has reached out to the community in Argao to revive Hablon, the town’s “dying” handloom weaving industry.

His dream is to introduce fabric that is uniquely Cebuano for local and international fashion events.