Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino was one of the special guest speakers present during the Aboitiz Future Leaders Business Summit who shared his own knowledge and wisdom on social entrepreneurship. I was so happy to meet him and learn from his experiences on Social Enterprises, in which is one of my current ventures and is a topic that has yet to hit mainstream (meaning information & best practices about it is so hard to find).
Aquino, youth leader and social entrepreneur, is the president of Microventures, Inc., a social business enterprise that does business development for the poor through its partner microfinance institutions. It currently runs the Hapinoy Program, a full service support program for micro-entrepreneurs in the Philippines countryside.
|Short Chit-chat before the interview|
The word Hapinoy is a play on the words Happy and Pinoy, the colloquial word for Filipino. The Hapinoy Store Program focuses on the sari-sari stores in the Philippines (sari-sari is the Filipino word for “many or various kinds”), small neighborhood convenience stores or retail-based outlets that sell various things, mostly basic commodities. These kinds of stores are almost always located within or as an extension of the storeowner’s home. With about 700,000 stores in the country, sari-sari stores make up 30 to 40% of total retail sales in the Philippines.
Program highlights: At the start, infusion of capital is done (through the resources of the microfinance institution program partner); then training aims to cover both personal growth and business training.; field operations team-- called the Store Doctors-- help diagnose and customize each store’s Path to Prosperity; The Kahanapbuhay Program: Filipino for livelihood, the Kahanapbuhay Program will focus on helping local micro producers brand and package their goods and sell them through the network of Hapinoy Community Stores.
The Hapinoy Plus Model: Value added goods such as generic medicines and services such as HapiPrints, a photo printing service based in Hapinoy Community Stores will be added to the regular operations of the Store. These new value added goods and services aim to increase traffic to and the profit margin of the Community Stores.
About Bam Aquino:
Bam is the one who resembles his uncle, the hero Ninoy Aquino, the most. The son of Paul Aquino, he is the nephew of late former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino, and the cousin of the fifteenth President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III. He is an honor graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, Bam went to the Ateneo Law School for a year and a half until he found himself desiring to work with young people more at the grassroots level.
In 2001, he was appointed commissioner of the National Youth Commission (NYC), a policy making agency of the government that focuses on the youth. Almost at the same time, he was also asked to host a youth-oriented morning show called "Breakfast" over Studio 23. The NYC under Bam’s leadership has embarked on several projects that will put young people truly on the forefront. There are TAYO or the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations, a youth apprenticeship program, the Youth Entrepreneurial Program (YEP) and Ka-Mindanao Natin. (wikipedia)
On Social Entrepreneurship Lessons Learned:
- Social Enterprises are not about maximizing profits but optimizing profits not just for one's firm but also the affected community partners.
- Social Entrepreneurship focuses on socially responsible patriotic businesses which adds a 'nation building value.' Help me, Help them!
- Most of us go to school and are trained to 'work only'; Also, MOST Architects/Engineers/Designers..etc., design/engineer,or make things for people with money, what about those who cannot afford our services or those left behind?
- Another thing I learned is that some of our processes are not that 'Socially' sensitive or considering the social impact; Bam mentioned to me about having a "Developmental Supply Chain" in the Industries affected in the Sari-sari store (HAPINOY) value chain. Being an Industrial Engineer, well this is quite a paradigm shift, since generally, our aim is to reduce cost, while maintaining quality product/service, and I just realize we don't really take into consideration a socio-economic impact that happens in the supply chain.
- I just realized that the Industrial "Factory Model" is no longer viable these days, even our education system is patterned after that, and look at where we are now. We must now start considering Products built, supplied from the community. Getting the community involved, teaching them what we know while adjusting to theirs and how to do it and have fun at the same time for a full & balanced community life.
- Since I am exposed to the NGO processes due to engagement with various foundations and corporate CSRs, I realized that the model of NGOs is also starting to be not-so-sustainable after all; a group asks for funds/grants-initiates projects>report and most likely ask money again, once the money is used up~and not all projects are sustainable, some are for emergency response, IEC, and mitigation; so this just makes me accept the social enterprise model more even if it's still not that complete.
- And to think, most of the Grant providers/Funding agencies are of foreign source, and that these are most from the "Developed World," there economies are starting to be shaky which will probably lead to less allocation and movement of money, which in turn will make it more difficult for local NGOs, foundations and the like to get funds for their projects.
- You can't always give to charity and expect it to continue to last forever; in the end, you have to make it sustainable and one way to do that is to engage into business.