When you ask Léa Klein, Philippine Country Director of MakeSense, about social entrepreneurship, words like empower, revolution, and sustainable resources dominate the conversation. “It has been four compelling years since we have been engaging the Filipino youth with social enterprises and important advocacies such as sustainable tourism, agriculture or waste management,” reveals Léa, “Our community of volunteers continuously demonstrate that Filipinos have a huge capacity to shape the future of the country if they are well supported.”
With the nascent field of social entrepreneurship enjoying rapid growth and increased attention from a variety of sectors, Léa is part of a growing breed of individuals who are spearheading the training of Filipino youth to effect positive social change in their country through entrepreneurial projects that aim to tackle social issues that debilitate and impede the potential growth of a particular sector. “Today, the social enterprises (SE) sector is growing in the Philippines but the number remains small as there is a lack of support especially for the projects in their very early stage. It was important for us to contribute to the ecosystem by helping increase the number of social enterprises on the ground,” relates Léa. “Our main mission for the MakeSense academy is to help any early-stage entrepreneur start their social entrepreneurship adventure and make social entrepreneurship accessible to the many.”
As such, the company has set up a six-month laboratory for budding entrepreneurs to kickstart their social enterprises and develop a solid foundation of their business model. During this period, the selected entrepreneurs will have access to resources such as co-working spaces and the opportunity for networking with private institutions that are aligned with the vision of their respective projects, as well as monthly allowances for their personal costs. “By partnering with the private sector, MakeSense Academy also positively impacts those companies,” says Léa. “The program is a great opportunity for the corporate sector to develop employees engagement and collaboration with the social enterprises sector.”
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For their latest incubation track, for instance, MakeSense has partnered with Decathlon, a global company that brings the joy of sports to people across the world by developing innovative and affordably priced sportswear and sports equipment products. This particular track focuses on “life-change through sport,” a campaign theme built and fully supported by Decathlon. For all intents and purposes, it is a mutually beneficial partnership that aligns the visions of both MakeSense and Decathlon. “From the beginning of the project, our mindset in Decathlon Philippines has been open to the people in need. For instance, we developed programs with LP4Y foundation to increase the employability of excluded youths, says Nadège Iff, Decathlon Philippines Sustainability Project Manager. “The project with MakeSense has been built with this same spirit. With the commitment of employees from the beginning of the project, from the co-building of the communication campaign to the regular support of startupers during the incubation track. This is not only an opportunity for the teammates to develop their engagement but it’s a way to stay open minded, to develop their skills and to be at the service of every Juan.”
Interested in building your own social enterprise? Visit the MakeSense Philippines website for more details about the application procedure.
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Photographs by the author and MakeSense