Social business day


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I am very happy that people nowadays, especially the youth, are supporting social businesses that pursue social development objectives and not just profits.  Social business is aligned with my life’s work, which is social and financial inclusion via microfinance.  It is also called social entrepreneurship, one of our advocacies in the microfinance industry.

Last June 27 to 28, “Social Business Day 2024” was held at the SMX Aura Convention Center in Manila. It is an annual event organized by the Yunus Center as a platform to share the accumulated experiences of social business leaders and entrepreneurs who are spearheading a new path to a sustainable and just future for the world.  It was organized in partnership with the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation (NWTF), one of the earliest replicators of the Grameen Bank microcredit methodology in the Philippines.


Provocative theme

Hosted by Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, the 14th Social Business Day had a provocative, yet, timely theme: “Social Business - An Exit Route from the Current Self-Destructive Civilization.”  After El Nino’s scorching heat and drought, we are now experiencing La Nina and bracing for floods.  Climate change is really upon us, changing the way we live and posing threats left and right. Surely, the best way to cope is to recognize that everything that we do impacts the environment in a way that will affect the future generations. Shouldn’t we, as early as now, make a concerted effort to save the planet and ultimately, ourselves?

The conference was attended by more than 400 participants from 27 countries. They came from different sectors: students, academicians, social entrepreneurs, microfinance practitioners, IT companies, bankers, development agencies, government, and others. It was a reunion of sorts for microfinance industry pioneers not only from the Philippines but all over the world. I was glad to be with NWTF pioneers, Corazon Henares and Suzzette Gaston. It was the first time we have been with our mentor, Prof. Yunus, since the pandemic. 

Throughout the two-day conference, we saw how social business can play a transformative role in steering humanity away from harmful practices that damage our planet. Social business, by emphasizing social and environmental responsibility, creates a positive impact on society and encourages a shift towards more conscientious and purpose-driven economic models that promote a healthier and more sustainable future for everyone.


Building peaceful and inclusive societies

There were more than 120 globally-prominent speakers, 10 country forums, seven plenary sessions and six workshops. I was invited to share my thoughts on how microfinance as a social business is contributing to changing the social order towards poverty eradication. 

I was very impressed with the wide array of social businesses that were featured during the conference.  There was the very affordable mobile healthcare app, “Shukhee,” that was launched by Grameen Digital Health in Bangladesh. It can  be replicated in other countries to benefit the poor. The partnership of Adelphi University and Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing was a laudable innovation that allows the educational system to address the health care needs of the poor. I also like the Tambanokano Aqua Farm for crab culture that was presented by a very young entrepreneur, Orange Silverio. There were other social businesses presented, like RestartME by Rapa Lopa, JA and Caregiver by Hirao Tsuneaki of Japan Automechanic, Foundation for Yunus Social Business by Juno Wang of Taiwan, the project involving the youth in waste management by Pavini Sethi of Thailand, the agri-projects for coconut farmers of Christine Violago of Grameen Foundation-Philippines, the Virunga National Park by Emanuel de Merode of Congo, among others. These inspiring projects demonstrate the transformative power of social businesses. The session on how sports help build peaceful and inclusive societies was also very interesting.


Preparing the next generation

Prof. Yunus is championing social business as a means to correct the destructive ways by which society and industries have pushed the earth towards its limits. For him, what the world needs is "civilizational change,”  and he envisions a world of three zeroes – zero net carbon emission, zero wealth concentration to end poverty, and zero unemployment by unleashing entrepreneurship in all.  I support his call to adopt a collective effort to promote sustainable practices, social justice, responsible governance, and ethical behavior at both individual and societal levels.

To prepare the next generation, the Yunus Center came up with the “3Zero Club” so that children as young as 12 years old can learn about sustainability. What Prof. Yunus said about our profit-focused education system resonated with me. Indeed, we should not teach children to focus on profit maximization at all costs. We should instead promote social values and caring for others.  Let us encourage our youth to become entrepreneurs in social businesses, as job generators and not job seekers. 

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“A little bit of good can turn into a whole lot of good when fueled by the commitment of a social entrepreneur.” — Jeff Skoll

(Dr. Jaime Aristotle B. Alip is a poverty eradication advocate. He is the founder of the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development Mutually-Reinforcing Institutions (CARD MRI).)