Friday, June 21, 2024

Summit calls for stronger financing for social enterprise startups in PH

A recently concluded forum dubbed “Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP)” highlighted key challenges in the social enterprise ecosystem amid the pandemic and called for more support for Filipino social enterprises.

“Most of us [social enterprises] are not big, but investors want big investment. We’re not big enough for them, so I think we need education for impact investors. What do they really want, money or impact?” said Joji Pantoja, CEO and co-founder of Coffee for Peace.

Forum participants said that with appropriate mentorship, tailored support mechanisms, and access to financing, social enterprises in the Philippines can be investment-ready to achieve scale.

“As a policymaker, we have seen the potential of social enterprises as a means to eradicate poverty not through hand-outs but by empowering the poor. It is my belief that if the private sector, government, social enterprises, and local communities join forces, we can find social, innovative, and sustainable ways to finally eradicate intergenerational poverty,” said Sen. Grace Poe, who spoke on the third day of the summit, which was held from June 14 to 16.

During the summit, four studies examining the financing landscape for Filipino social enterprises were launched, as well as a study on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on social enterprises and a technopreneurship governance blueprint. These shed light on the challenges faced by social enterprises and proposed recommendations that can strengthen the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“By knowing and understanding where the country’s social enterprise ecosystem has come from and where it is now, we are more able to plot a more progressive way forward and create a positive impact towards eradicating poverty. We look forward to more Filipino entrepreneurs thriving in the future,” said Paco Sandejas, co-chairman of Philippine Development (PhilDev) Foundation.

“Talking about ecosystems in the range of social enterprises is like focusing on the underwoods of a forest comprised of big trees of corporations, government, and other stakeholders. UNDP operates at this level, supporting the connectivity and oxygenating this territory of relations for the wealth of the wider system,” said Enrico Gaveglia, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Philippines deputy resident representative.

During ISIP’s implementation, over 50 social enterprises participated in ISIP’s activities. Twenty-nine of these enterprises received support through the Social Impact Accelerator, assisting them to become investment ready. In total, graduates of the accelerator program were able to access funding in the form of equity and grants of $255,000.

ISIP also launched the RISE UP (Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic through Social Entrepreneurship) campaign and the Innovative Solutions Grants Facility (ISGF) in 2020 to assist social enterprises innovate and transform their respective products and services to cope with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The ISGF supported twenty enterprises and provided up to $10,000 to develop or strengthen their innovations.

ISIP is supported by the Australian Government and implemented by the UNDP and PhilDev Foundation. Its interventions are focused on capacity building, technical support, and policy reforms to benefit social enterprises in the Philippines and boost their contributions towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Australian Government remains committed to supporting the preparedness of small and medium enterprises or SMEs to overcome economic shocks and improve their resilience. This is part of the commitments set out in our Philippines Covid-19 Development Response Plan and which is well in line with our broader goal of supporting a sovereign, stable, and resilient Philippines that returns quickly to economic growth post-Covid-19,” said Australian ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson as he closed the three-day summit.

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