Social enterprises use business strategies to tackle social problems and improve communities, uplift people’s lives, and making sure the business activity has minimal impact to the environment. They make money from selling goods and services, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community.
In the Philippines, the idea of social enterprise is timely, because it is aligned with and reflects the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals, Ambisyon 2040 and inclusive growth. Given their local dimension, social enterprises are especially suited to tackling local problems and taking stock of local resources, including economic and non-economic ones that would not otherwise be directed to welfare and development issues.
Social enterprise concepts and practices cut across all four strategic dimensions of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, which include: 1) job creation; 2) rights at work; 3) social protection; and 4) social dialogue. In particular, social enterprises help implement the decent work agenda at the local level:
i. Job creation: In a CSO-SEED study, the Philippines experienced a recent spike in the number of new social enterprises. The study also shows that youth leadership is prevalent in the new entrants meaning more and more young entrepreneurs foray into this field. As a result, social enterprises contribute to creating new employment. In particular, social enterprises can employ unoccupied workers, such as women with children, who seek flexible or part-time jobs.
j. Rights at work and social protection: Social enterprises have opened opportunities for the most disadvantaged including the creation of social enterprises specifically aimed to integrate disadvantaged people to work. These enterprises have an entrepreneurial character that empowers vulnerable workers, stimulates their productivity (at least to cover their labour costs), allows for effective enforcement of their fundamental rights and promotes decent conditions of work.
k. Social dialogue: The social enterprise model plays a role in developing new forms of work organization which can enhance workers’ participation in decision-making processes. The governance structures of social enterprises allow workers to be actively involved and contribute to defining effective policies on wages and earnings, hours and working conditions. Social enterprises use tools, such as networking, inclusive governance models and local partnerships, to promote social dialogue, build consensus on employment and decent work strategies and influence public policies.