[The Market] Shopping for a cause with EDC and SAP

Key Takeaway: One way of intra-sector cooperation, especially when it comes to the private sector, would be to build bridges. This is particularly effective between big companies and social enterprises, because of their mutual benefits.


Isn’t it ironic that I devoted the last posts to health from a purposeful point of view, but I myself have been unwell? Oh, well, these things do happen a lot of times. For general malaise, I am one with those who advocate taking coco nectar, though I admit I am being so stingy with it (it can be pricey!) that the little dosage I take might not have any effect at all.

But then, I also confess I am a workaholic, an inefficient one at that, which is why I am a workaholic: a vicious cycle. But I love working, as although CSR is not just for business and should be made a lifestyle, I feel that I can best express what I stand for through my work – as I believe in the potential of an institute teaching these kinds of things. Which leads me to today’s discussion.

As this blog shows, and as people close with me would know, I am entirely for social development and what is commonly called “social enterprise”. Actually, I don’t believe in social enterprise: I believe that all enterprise needs to be social – and in fact, this was how enterprise started. Sadly, a great number of enterprises today, especially the larger ones, do not think the same way, and are driven primarily by profit, then looking for opportunities to make profit. I believe that true enterprise works the other way around: looking for a socio-environmental opportunity to address, then achieving profit by and to solve it.

But of course this isn’t always the case. And some big businesses are doing something sincerely to help join the social development landscape, one way to do such being to forge partnerships with socially-oriented raisons d’être.

Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

This is what’s happening today and tomorrow at SAP Philippines, our country’s branch of the German business software multinational. Shop-for-a-Cause: Celebrating the Social Enterprise with SAP is a two-day bazaar – open to the public – at SAP Philippines’s offices in the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila. As its name implies, the businesses featured at the event are social enterprises – small-to-medium-scale organizations that seek to address a certain social problem or problems through business. Including Habi Footwear, there are about a dozen of them here, ranging from food agribusinesses to solar-powered gadgets.

Projects like these show not only how sectors can work together and how the barriers between them are becoming increasingly blurred, allowing for very rich opportunities for cooperation in the name of integral development; but also how intra-sector cooperation can work wonders. After all, sectors aren’t homogenous internally, and diversity is a key feature especially in the private and nonprofit sectors (though many social enterprises are for-profit) – so much so that the opportunities to work together are as numerous and as rich as that of inter-sectoral convergence.

I’ve previously written about supporting your local enterprises especially in Christmas shopping, and this is one concrete way of doing so. As the Christmas and holiday season approaches, bazaars are sprouting up left and right, and it’s admirable how a company like SAP is holding its own in-house bazaars getting brilliant young merchants who are single-mindedly driven to solve whatever social problem they feel most powerfully about. The fact that it’s not just for employees, but is open, is of even more potential for events like these to succeed.

Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Last week, Habi was at the Energy Development Corporation’s (EDC) own Upcycling Bazaar, a week-long program on reducing carbon footprint and environmental awareness as part of its sustainability activities. Projects like these are good for everyone, because they encourage collaboration from everyone and no one gets left behind or ignored. But whether social enterprises are partners of companies that genuinely prioritize its social responsibility endeavors, or whether they were tapped into by companies whose CSR is at best “greenwashing”, it’s all good: For enterprises like us, it is not our job to judge whether a partner has integrity or not, as we should see every collaboration as an opportunity to not only promote our own advocacy but also help others explore avenues where they, too, can live, or start living, their own higher purpose or CSR.

Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua
Photo copyright 2015 Allister Roy S. Chua

Shop-for-a-Cause: Celebrating the Social Enterprise with SAP will be held from 12-13 November 2015, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, at the offices of SAP Philippines, on the 27th floor of NAC Tower, 32nd Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.


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