UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP (Business with a Heart) (Staff: Wryneth)

Table discussion about Social Entrepreneurship going on with EDAYA team, participants, and special guests Sayaka Watanabe and Subit Shresta.

Social Entrepreneurship is a fairly new word and a new concept to people like me who grew up in the Cordillera, Philippines. The idea of business with a purpose is probably something that we are aware of and that we practice, however, the concept of social entrepreneurship is not something we share with the others. Even say university degree holders who graduated from the Cordilleras and in most rural areas in the Philippines reflect a curious face when asked about social entrepreneurship. The reason? Sadly, lack of information, because a huge portion of essential information is being strained and accumulated mostly in selected regions in the Philippines who has advantaged access to technology and information. Social entrepreneurship is known in the Philippines, yes, but the concentration of such is found in the Manila area or greatly the National Capital Region and other selected regions which are the centralized hubs of huge businesses and resources. This has contributed to the fact that residents of rural areas are on an uncertain footing when it comes to the concepts such as social entrepreneurship. It is but fair to mention however that the spirit and the idea introduced by social entrepreneurship is something that is not alien to us.

My initial encounter with the concept of social entrepreneurship was with the EDAYA team, especially from its director, Ayaka Yamashita.  My desire to learn more about the concept spawned out of my involvement with EDAYA and experiencing a part of social entrepreneurship, and I realized that I am loving it. A chance was arranged for us to face personally with two well-known social entrepreneurs (in Japan and Thailand) during our recently concluded Japan trip. One inspiration of the event came from Ayaka-san herself. “I want everyone to be very confident of their roots and to find their own way to inspire others.”Ayaka-san has been going out of her own way to inspire the people of the Cordillera and to contribute in revitalizing the dying Indigenous cultures of the  Cordillera.

Speakers for the Social Entrepreneurship event. (L-R) Sayaka Watanabe, Sunit
Shresta and Ayaka Yamashita.
Ms. Sayaka Watanabe, one of the guests for the event has been heavily involved with the Asian Women Social Entrepreneurship Network (AWSEN) and also has current projects and/or business in the Tohoku area and the Cambodia. Her business in Tohoku is dedicated to extracting oil and seeds from the Tsubaki flower (traditional flower) to create cosmetics but because the seeds can only be produced once a year, she decided to make traditional tea from Tsubaki leaves (“harvested” thrice or four times a year). Another thing she's doing is the beauty salon in Cambodia. She is planning to hold vocational trainings for beauty course. She also wants to connect the entrepreneurs because she thinks that when small individuals with great ideas come together, something great will be cooking.

Mr. Sunit Shresta on the other hand operates the Change Fushion. Initially, their organization supports young social enterprises and assist them in their activities, like connects them to financial sources and they also do a few seed funding projects. He works with people to create small holdings company and connect entrepreneurs with funders from around the world. They also work a little bit with the capital market in Thailand and try to set up some funding/fund for social activities/causes (not necessarily social entrepreneurs). They are basically connectors of entrepreneurs to funders, etc.

Absorbing amazing information from the speakers.

Both Ms. Sayaka and Mr. Sunit shared amazing thoughts and ideas that not only inspired me but made me think like “ahhh, that is a great point!” While some people for instance say that focusing on one objective for a long time leads you to produce the highest possible outcome, I learned however that in most instances, it is not always good to limit yourself to only one aspect, because the issues in the world are interconnected anyways. I remember a speech I delivered back in my university days. It started with “Don’t limit yourself only to what you think you can accomplish. Walt Disney animator and film producer said, ‘if you can dream it, you can be it’”.  Find your intersection with the world and invest on that, but it has to be something that you want or something that you are passionate about.

The concepts of Collaboration and Collective Impact introduced by Sayaka-san also made a lot of sense to me and somehow changed how I view the idea of partnerships. Initiating the pulling mechanism allows the individual to develop his/her own potentials in his/her own pace and space. Thus, it doesn’t have a limiting factor. On the other hand, the concept of “black hole” which was mentioned by Mr. Sunit is equally amazing. The black hole is a stable energy in the universe, which always attracts everything into it. While it teaches us to learn, understand and absorb the concerns in the world, it also teaches us that it is very important to maintain our inner core balance. 

All these concepts, and others have been in the center of the discussion during the Social Entrepreneurship meeting. The meeting which only lasted for about two hours has been informative and educational for me not only because it has given me more valuable insights of the ideas revolving around social entrepreneurship, but these ideas will also have a heavy bearing in my life. At the end of the meeting, it was sad that we had to catch our plane back home immediately but I was really grateful for the opportunity given to learn, discover and share.


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