Social enterprises means to achieving SDGs

sustainable development goals
2030 NOW. The Sustainable Development Goals are presented during League of Corportate Foundations forum on July 15. Photo by Danielle Nakpil / Rappler

‘Now is the time to move beyond good will and advocacy and show leadership, innovation, and share resources,’ says UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Ola Almgren

MANILA, Philippines (July 18, 2016) — Just like all correctional facilities in the Philippines, the Naga City Jail looked no different. The women inmates lived in cramped prison cells with barely no room for breathing. Most of them rarely had visitors, while others were already abandoned by their families. Many fall into the pit of depression and some even try to commit suicide.

These are women who were involved in illegal drugs, theft, murder, and other criminal offenses. These are women who will carry the tag of being law offenders for the rest of their lives. The future does not seem to be hopeful for them even as they exit the prison gates.

Despite these, one entrepreneur still chose to believe in the capability of these inmates to turn their lives around. Determined to push this cause forward, Paul Orpiada of the Karaw Craftventures built a skills development program to help rehabilitate the women inmates of the Naga City Jail.

He teaches them how to make toys, keychains, bags, shirts, and other merchandise for them to still be able to send money to their families outside the prison bars. Through the Karaw Craftventures, the prisoners acquired a set of technical skills that they can use to earn a living once they get out of prison.

The Karaw Craftventures of Orpiada is one example of many other social enterprises that build their business models and strategies around corporate social responsibility (CSR), in order to effectively achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through baby steps.

The main goal of the 2030 agenda is to basically alleviate poverty, fight injustice, and control climate change in 14 years, among other social issues. Social entrepreneurs like Orpiada try to fight this from the bottom up.

Supporting social enterprises

Orpiada is one of the social enterprises supported by the BPI Foundation, which has been reaching out to various communities for 37 years.

“We’re really looking for social enterprises. They’re not your regular capitalist enterprise that will make a good product but they really innovate in a way that they help people get out of poverty. They really bring a lot of people with them when they succeed,” said BPI Foundation Communication and Project Officer Ebony Lautner.

She added that the foundation tries to build an ecosystem for inclusive growth, and the Karaw Craftventures is an example of a social enterprise that invests in the growth of a particular community.

“These are the types of enterprises we really love to support because they’re so smart and creative and the way they look at their business model, they make sure that a part and parcel of it is a community of people,” Lautner said.

Going beyond CSR

Several national and multinational companies in the Philippines have been practicing CSR through their respective foundations for decades. The League of Corporate Foundations alone has 80 members from different foundations and organizations who practice CSR and vow to help achieve the SDGs through it.

But more than practicing philanthropy and good will, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ola Almgren said that businesses must incorporate CSR to their business strategies in order to effectively achieve the 17 SDGs.

“I believe that corporations today need to go beyond corporate social responsibility to support the sustainable development goals. That means really to work them into their core business strategies,” he told Rappler.

According to Almgren, taking this step will not only sustain the environment and people from different marginalized sectors, but will also sustain the corporations themselves.

“For the business sector, there’s never been a more critical time to change the way we do business, including corporate social responsibility and integrating the sustainable development goals in your core business strategies.”

“While CSR is not just good will, now is the time to move beyond good will and advocacy and show leadership, innovation, and share resources,” Almgren stressed in his speech on the second day of the LCF anniversary expo on Friday, July 15, at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

Sharing of resources

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), one in four Filipinos live in poverty. One out of 10 live in consistent poverty, which means not having enough resources to sustain themselves for a day. Moreover, thousands of Filipino families still don’t have access to clean energy.

“One out of ten Filipinos do not have electricity in their homes. That is a huge opportunity for innovation, and for investment. The corporate sector really has a contribution to make,” Almgren said.

The UNDP resident representative believes that the success of the 2030 agenda lies in a strong partnership between the government and the corporate sector. But having not enough resources from the government especially in third world countries, gives opportunity for corporations to invest and contribute more.

“The corporate sector has a greater resource to manage than the national government.”

According to Almgren, corporations must take personal and corporate responsibility on how they do business. Both huge companies and humble social enterprises have a role to play in achieving the 2030 Agenda as they partner with the United Nations and the government.

“I believe that there are many, many opportunities for us to work closely together. But above all, we need your contribution to the achieve agenda 2030 of the sustainable development goals,” Almgren urged businessmen.

  by Danielle Nakpil |