by Ariane Lim / PHILSEN
MANILA, Philippines — The first among a series of dialogues, the Civil Society Participation in Social Enterprise Education and Development Policy Dialogue was held on September 19, 2017, in Berjaya Makati Hotel, Makati City, Philippines.
Representatives from civil society organizations (CSO), local chambers of commerce, development partners European Union and British Council, local government units (LGUs) and government agencies from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) converged to embark on a relevant policy making process to be able to contribute to an informed, culturally sensitive and community-driven policy on social entrepreneurship.
During the opening remarks, British Council Country Director for the Philippines, Nick Thomas stressed that apart from economic gains, social enterprises put the interests of their beneficiaries or partner communities as a priority.
“It (Social entrepreneurship) is about empowering people to take charge of their own futures. Twenty five percent of social enterprises in the UK have a direct impact on most vulnerable part of society; 59 percent of them employ people who are challenged in taking part in the market; 31 percent operates in deprived parts of the country.”
Emily Mercado, Program Specialist for the European Union in the Philippines, stated how the European Union is set to continue support for the ARMM.
“The EU remains committed in supporting peace and development in Mindanao and will remain open and actively engaging with the Philippine government and civil society organizations in achieving inclusive growth.”
Twenty five percent of social enterprises in the UK have a direct impact on most vulnerable part of society; 59 percent of them employ people who are challenged in taking part in the market; 31 percent operates in deprived parts of the country.
Regional Department of Trade and Industry Secretary for the ARMM, Atty. Anwar Malang, also expressed how he thinks social enterprises can be a vehicle to build a better, more progressive ARMM after decades of underdevelopment and conflict.
“Since the 1970s, programs in the ARMM have been dole-outs. This time, the paradigm has to be shifted and social entrepreneurship as shown by many First World countries adopting the concept in addressing the needs of the marginalized.”
Shaping the Social Enterprise Ecosystem for the ARMM
To move forward with the social enterprise agenda, participants underwent a workshop to determine the next steps or focal points for social enterprises in the ARMM. A review of local and international policies related to social enterprises was done during the session.
Inspired by the cases that have been discussed, majority of the participants saw the potential in leveraging on their Moro culture to produce halal goods that are Shariah-compliant.
They also expressed that using social enterprises to engage with out-of-school youth will train them to be self-sufficient and will provide livelihood opportunities for them. Investing in social entrepreneurship education through scholarships and grants will also encourage more people to create social enterprises.
While many programs have been suggested, the role of government support was also emphasized to provide adequate funding for the social enterprise programs. Close coordination with government agencies that have the jurisdiction to support enterprises were also seen as an important enabling factor.
Social Enterprises in the ARMM as a new way forward
While the development issues of the ARMM still loom at large, the British Council’s CSO-SEED program aims to offer a new way forward.
Maria Angela Flores, Head of Society for the British Council quotes:
“Conflict transformation is about the process of engaging with, and transforming the relationships, interests, discourse, and, if necessary, the very constitution of the society that supports the continuation of conflict. This approach not only sees constructive conflict as a vital agent or catalyst for change, but also recognizes that conflicts are transformed gradually through a series of smaller or larger changes as well as specific steps.”
“The policy dialogue is a testament of these small steps. It has been a complex process, and this is not a panacea. British Council is offering this relationship with the partners and journeying with them through the CSO-SEED.,” Flores adds.