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Social Entrepreneurship: The Philippine Experience

Loida Lewis discusses strategic philanthropy as part of a panel at the Asia Society.
by Stephanie Valera
22 January 2009

NEW YORK, Januray 22, 2009 - Strategic philanthropy will continue to
play an influential role in the advancement of developing countries
with poverty, illiteracy, and health issues, said Philippine social
entrepreneurship experts.

In a panel
discussion at the Asia Society, top leaders of the Philippines’ social
entrepreneurship and strategic philanthropy shared challenges faced by
organizations attempting to achieve sustainable improvements in poor

Vicky Garchitorena,
founder of Ayala Foundation who describes strategic philanthropy as
looking at the root of poverty with a business lens, shared her
experiences with communities in need while running for Philippine
Congress. Seeing the need for infrastructure and educational programs,
she brought companies and government officials together to equip 2500
high schools in the Philippines with computers and Internet access.

Loida Lewis,
chairwoman of the TLC Beatrice, also believes in "investing in people."
She has funded 800 schools, ranging from elementary schools and
colleges to nursing schools. The affiliations she established with
hospitals and schools abroad also enabled many of the students to
receive international training. At the discussion moderated by Sandeep Junnarkar,
associate professor at City University of New York, Lewis spoke of how
students brought back not only extensive skills but also a broader
perspective of health practices outside of the Philippines.

Diosdado Banatao,
founder and managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital places his
focus in developing science and technology in the Philippines. He
stressed that in order for the Philippines to catch up with other Asian
countries, “it must industrialize itself and produce ‘high value
products’ such as cars, computers and other technological products.” So
far, he has helped send 200 PhDs and 300 masters’ students into fields
of engineering and science.

The panel also
discussed the impact of the global economic crisis on government
spending programs and endowments. But according to Garchitorena, there
is still ample opportunity for companies “to be involved in social
entrepreneurship and make money.” In the Philippines, 90 percent of the
of the population make less than 600 dollars a month, and yet that
population contributes to 60 percent of purchasing power. The companies
that play a crucial part in social entrepreneurship will "surely reap"
from growing demand and markets created by the evolution.

reality of population explosion and government corruption will always
create heavy demand for improving the lives of the poor, the panel
said. Even so, we can expect social entrepreneurship and strategic
philanthropy to be the creative solution for social and economic