There is a concept I am currently passionate about but which I only have a hazy understanding on as yet. It is the concept of social entrepreneurship, the idea of building an enterprise which is driven not solely by the carnal motive of amassing profits, but by the more noble cause of uplifting lives and building self-reliant communities while protecting the environment and health. Of course, it must be profitable enough as to sustain its existence, yet it must be permeated with a conscience and clothed with integrity and honor.
As I’ve said, this is relatively new to me and I only have a basic idea of what it is, though I fully know what it’s not. It stands in stark contrast to the greed of purebred commercialism in which the earnings of capitalists run to excesses while their workers live a hand-to-mouth existence. While commercialism enriches only the owner, social entrepreneurship seeks to divide the profits reasonably among the constituents. While commercialism has no qualms about using unhealthy additives and chemicals as long as they are cheap enough to widen their profit margin, social entrepreneurship seeks to use health-promoting ingredients. While commercialism cares not about the environmental impacts of their practices, social entrepreneurship seeks to protect the homeland and its people.
I think, next to being a true missionary, the next best thing to do is be a social entrepreneur. Looking back, my mom was a social entrepreneur of sorts. While dabbling with sugarcane planting some years back, I saw my mother putting into practice what would today be called social entrepreneurship skills.
While rich hacienderos (owners of vast tracts of land) in our little town of Bukidnon already thought they were helping their tapaseros (sugarcane harvesters) with their meager wages, my mother went the extra mile by serving a big pot of steaming hot rice, scalding hot soup and ice-cold water for their lunch. That meal was already a feast compared to their usual lunch pack of a piece of dried fish buried in a mound of corn – already cold and hard by noontime. The hacienderos chided my mother, saying she was spoiling them, yet my mother thought it was the least she could do for poor workers who had to endure the scorching heat and the crazy itch of harvesting sugarcane.
While hacienderos are content to let their workers go bankrupt and would even be happy about it (for then they could lend them money at an interest), my mother would lecture them to save, to stop their vices, to send their children to school and to get a vision much farther than today.
My mother was a social entrepreneur without her knowing it. Actually, making a living while respecting life is already social entrepreneurship at best.
Contrary to the hacienderos’ prediction, my mother’s team of tapaseros did not get spoiled. They were even so fiercely loyal that when NPA guerrillas set our sugarcane farm on fire, those weary workers roused themselves from sleep and promptly put out the fire. They later said they would not have done that if not for my mother. They would have let the fire rage on if it were some haciendero’s farm.
I believe this country needs a new breed of social entrepreneurs whose intelligence is matched with integrity, whose competence is tempered with conscience and whose ambitions lie in enriching the country, safeguarding the environment and promoting health.
Here are some examples of social enterprises:
Eight Wonder, Inc.
Are you running a social enterprise? If so, I would feature you here, for free. Just drop me a note or leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: realsolutions4life.com