Last week at the Cebu City Mariott Hotel, the Cebu Business Month (CBM) held a very engaging two-day conference. Dubbed as Social Entrepreneurship Conference, the event was jam-packed with powerful insights delivered by leading entrepreneurs and business advocates.
What is Social Entrepreneurship?
For those who don’t have any idea what it is,social entrepreneurship is basically an initiative to include different business techniques and private sector approaches in looking for possible solutions to cultural, environmental and societal problems. It is an attempt not only to help businesses gain profit, but also to inspire them in doing something for the greater good.
At the conference DTI Reg. Director Asteria C. Caberte presented the different projects of the Trade and Industry Department that will help boost the economic growth of the country. She emphasized that the size of a business doesn’t matter. No matter how big or how small a business is, it always has the power to contribute something for social change.
Even though I am not running a business, what she said inspired me to do something good for my country. It is something important especially in this era where almost everything is digitalized.
Welcoming change and finding meaning
Ms. Margaret Yunque gave the conference attendees something to think about when she revealed that we are now in the age of automation–a world that is more intelligent and more interconnected. She elaborated this with a thought-provoking quotation, “It will not be the big fish that eats the small fish, it will be the fast fish that eats the slow fish.” If one should explore the world of business, then one should understand his own business in order for him to effectively engage to his customers.
I have experienced having a high-paying job, but to my own surprise, it didn’t give me any sense of fulfillment. I never knew what was really missing until I’ve listened Mr. Jef A. Menguin talk. I realized that what I have been waiting all along is meaning. According to him, a social entrepreneur is someone who can inspire his/her employees to grow and find opportunities instead of problems.
Vision, Leadership, Innovation
My self-reflection was cut-off when the ever-dashing Mr. Mario Berta graced the stage. Mr. Berta emphasized the essence of developing a collaborative economy. He also tackled the basic problems of SMEs and provided insights on how to solve them. Mr. Berta stressed the importance of technology in business. As a business owner, one can either fight it and die, or leverage it and thrive. However, leveraging technology is not enough. You should also treat every customer as a VIP as your business begins and ends with your customers.
EngageSpark’s Avner Mizrahi shared some of his personal stories, one of which is his journey to Uganda where a deep realization about the power of law dawned upon him. The law is not only about bureaucratic justice but also a tool to promote social change. Mr. Mizrahi’s three fundamental advice to entrepreneurs are: building an entrepreneurial community, mentoring people across one’s network and to use business to create positive impact.
The afternoon was a kaleidoscope of women empowerment. Ms. Jeanne Javelosa of Echostore supported the idea that social entrepreneurship is a practical solution to empower women. She anchored her business on the idea of women helping one another.
In the afternoon, she was joined by Meyan Young of Echostore Cebu, Engr. Leonora Salvane of GT Cosmetics and Anya Lim of Anthill Fabric Gallery for a panel discussion. The discussion was a good clash of concepts that are pragmatic not only for women, but also for men. The powerful women also spent a few minutes of their time to give advice to the young aspiring entrepreneurs from St.Theresa’s College.
I was amazed with all of the things that I have learned from the first day of the conference. All of which boils down to two significant lessons: without passion one cannot be an entrepreneur and falling down doesn’t make one a failure; staying down does.
Profit entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, or whatever you call it, is definitely not for the faint at heart.