Help sought for social enterprises

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SOCIAL ENTERPRISES need support from the government and investors for the sector to grow, social enterprise experts said yesterday.


“As a sector, the social enterprise is still in the process of becoming. It has not quite matured. It is important to involve the government so that it can support the growth of the sector,” Marie Lisa M. Dacanay, president of the Institute of Social Entrepreneurship in Asia, said during a panel discussion at the Impact Chat -- Exploring Impact Investment Opportunities in the Philippines event yesterday at the SGV Foundation in Makati.

Ms. Dacanay noted that in 2007, there were 30,000 social enterprises in the country.

The government is starting to recognize the sector, she also said, citing a bill in the Senate that would grant incentives to social enterprises.

The Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship Program Act, or House Bill 1026, filed earlier this year by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, would identify strategic economic subsectors and provide incentives and support to social enterprises so that the poor could become worker-partners, supplier-partners, client-partners and owners of social enterprises, Ms. Dacanay said.

Among the incentives the bill would grant social enterprises is non-collateralized lending, she noted.

“There are a lot of loans for social enterprises, but they don’t have access to those because banks require collateral. Social enterprises, of course, don’t have that. We believe the government can supply that kind of incentive to social enterprises because social enterprises are actually helping the government solve poverty and inequality,” Ms. Dacanay said.

Rico Gonzales, managing editor of social enterprise incubator Xchange, said that private investors might also boost the growth of social enterprises, but the former are hesitant because of the high risks.

“A lot of social enterprises are very young, and their risk profile is high. It’s not what investors are prepared to see,” Mr. Gonzales said.

“There has to be, on the investment side, an appreciation of becoming really patient, where people are willing to stay longer and tolerate more risk loss,” he said.


Micro, small and medium enterprises are said to comprise 99.6% of the total enterprises in the Philippines. – DJBE (Business World)