Building Communities and Transforming Lives: Reflections on the Third Panel

The 1st MSME Conference served as a venue to gather some of the brightest minds and the most passionate hearts in the field of entrepreneurship. Studies presented during the conference ranged from trends and challenges to enhancing entrepreneurship and its impact to society. Ultimately, entrepreneurship becomes relevant and significant when they respond to the needs of the marginalized sectors of the society.

Social enterprises provide opportunities. In a country where poverty incidence is high, social entrepreneurship becomes a powerful tool in combating poverty by promoting and integrating economic and social value creation. More and more people realize that enterprises are built not for the sole purpose of generating profit, but more so to respond to various societal needs (e.g. innovative solutions to problems, response to market demands, employment opportunities, avenue for creative products, etc.).

Community-based enterprises empower women. As in the case of community women under Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. (ASHI), a non-governmental organization, entrepreneurship has been a key factor in their transformation–economically as successful entrepreneurs and socially as empowered members of the
community.

Using the lens of people-centered development, community-based enterprises promote a strengthened sense of community such that there is ownership from among the community people. That is, people are empowered to participate in the whole developmental process, thereby contributing to societal transformation as they themselves are also transformed by the process. The participatory process provides an opportunity for every member to partake in the planning to the implementation stage. It gives people a sense of responsibility, commitment and pride in their work.

Resilient citizens build resilient communities. While the MSME sector is considered the backbone of the economy, accounting for 99.57% of total establishments and generating almost 63.3% of total jobs, this very sector is the one most affected during disasters due to lack of necessary resources to restore, recover from and sustain their operations. Poverty plays a major role in increasing the possible risks of disaster by increasing the community’s vulnerability and
reducing the coping facilities. Here lies the significance of social capital built from a community of stakeholders. When there is increased participation, ownership, belongingness, commitment and identity, there is a strong sense of community. Community-based enterprise inspires solidarity and becomes more relevant to the day-to-day needs and aspirations of the people. It weaves people together as it responds to the concrete conditions and harnesses the potentials of its members.

The community is at the heart of development work. With social entrepreneurship, this heart will beat harder in unity with various stakeholders as the people themselves own their place as the main agents of meaningful change.

 

Bragas, C. and P.J. Raci (2018). Impact of Social Entrepreneurship on Poverty Reduction in Payatas, Quezon City
Magpile, C.M. (2018). From Hardship to Success: An Analysis of the Effectiveness of ASHI’s Programs in Uplifting Poverty and Empowering Women.
2016 data from the Department of Trade and Industry
Laddaran, J.R. (2018). Keeping Afloat: The Role of MSMEs in Community Preparedness.

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