MANILA, Philippines?Four groups of young Filipino entrepreneurs won the British Council Philippines? ?I am a change maker? competition, the British embassy here said in a news release.
Four winners were chosen out of a dozen finalists?one each from Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. A special prize was given by Starbucks to the finalist whose proposal best exemplified the values of a responsible business.
Team 3G emerged the big winner, bagging both the Visayas award and the Starbucks Shared Planet Award for their inspired idea to establish a youth cooperative engaged in guso (seaweed) farming to address problems in education, employment, and livelihood in Pangan-an Island.
In Metro Manila, the Good Food Company won for their idea to reconnect people back to the land by making them stakeholders in the work of farmers in organic production. This will not only to educate them on the values of eating organic but also to open their eyes to the plight of the farmers who work hard to produce them.
Isla Cullion Souvenirs from Luzon won for their proposal to cater to the market demand of souvenir items to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the welfare of the Tagbanuas, the indigenous people living in the Calamianes Group of Islands.
Entrepreneurs Responding through Social Service (ERSS) won in the Mindanao category for their idea to tackle problems of poverty and pollution by employing the women of Balulang, Cagayan de Oro to make bags out of used tarpaulins to help minimize waste and provide a source of income to the women of Balulang.
To help propel their business, each winning team received P100,000 as seed capital and a business incubation and mentorship scheme courtesy of Social Enterprise Development Partnerships Inc. (Sedpi). In addition, all the finalists received project management and feasibility training from Sedpi based on a curriculum designed by the Ateneo de Manila University and the National University of Singapore.
British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said that with President Benigno Aquino III's emphasis on solving social problems and dealing with inequality, ?there?s clearly a role for social entrepreneurs in tackling the problems which is what this [competition] is exactly about. The ?I am a change maker? competition has come at exactly the right time.?
The contest is open to young entrepreneurs who could help solve problems on a community level by engaging in business with a social conscience. It encourages entrepreneurs to engage in business where it?s not simply the financial bottom line that is important but takes a social dimension by giving back to the community and making use of the business opportunities within their community to affect wide-scale social change.
Ambassador Lillie personally congratulated the winners, pointing out that social entrepreneurship is not a new concept in Britain and goes back as far as the 19th century with the birth of the co-operative movement.
?This movement is still alive and strong in Britain, continuing to our present day when our new Prime Minister David Cameron talks about his idea of the big society which is very much about getting people from the community to take ownership of problems and solve them,? said Lillie.
He was referring to the ?Big Society? program of the British Government which is working to create a climate that empowers local people and communities to take a more active role in their communities.
The program is grounded on the premise that tackling the problems that beset a community is best done from the ground up. This climate of self-empowerment is what the ?I am a change maker? competition aims to propagate.