Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gawad Kalinga holds first-ever Social Business summit

Gawad Kalinga (GK) Founder Tony Meloto

MANDALUYONG CITY – Social business is the business of caring. This was the opening statement of Tony Meloto as he welcomed the participants of the Social Business Summit, the first of its kind held not at a fancy hotel or a posh convention center but on a sustainable community farm in Angat, Bulacan. The choice of venue is crucial in communicating the message that social businesses place a higher premium on human relationships and empowerment of the poor rather than mere profit.

A total of 520 participants signed-up for the event, which includes fifty foreign delegates coming from the United States, Australia, France, Singapore and the United Kingdom among others. 40 brilliant minds are set to share their thoughts and expertise about the summit's theme, which deals with the role of social business in harboring inclusive growth in emerging Asian markets.

"Charity cannot sustain development, nor can it end poverty. Social businesses can," Meloto, founder of Gawad Kalinga (GK), stated. He sought the support of the participants comprised of entrepreneurs, teachers, government officials and advocates of social development. Meloto insisted that the Philippines must learn to achieve progress without leaving the poor behind. "Because if we keep leaving the poor behind, growth will never be sustainable," he said.

These thoughts were echoed by Stephen Groff, Vice President of Asian Development Bank. In his speech, Groff pitched the idea that social business will herald in a brighter future for the country. "The Philippines is ideal for social enterprises due to strong civil society and people's organizations that can provide support, funding, and training, especially when social businesses start their expansions," said Groff. He added that the government needs to promote and fund social businesses, while banks should provide special loans and other financial services to encourage social enterprises.

These ideas were concretized by the experiences of 2012 Enrst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Jim Ayala as he shared how his company's solar-powered lantern improved the lives of rural Filipinos who do not have access to electricity.

Meanwhile, Former Taguig Congressman Sigfrido Tinga proudly narrated how he decided to leave the world of politics for a greater dream. Tinga claimed that the greatest lesson he learned from Gawad Kalinga is that the poor should never be displaced in favor of development. Currently working on introducing electric vehicles as alternatives to pollution causing jeepneys, he plans on employing and training drivers coming from GK communities for such project. Tinga trusts that the strong formation program of the organization will produce the most courteous Filipino drivers.

Other speakers include Joey Concepcion of GoNegosyo, Fr. Javi Alpasa, S.J. and Mark Ruiz of Hapinoy; and Anna Wilk of Gandang Kalikasan. All four speakers emphasized on the primacy of dealing justly with workers as innovative and marketable products can only be made possible through the talents of people.

The Social Business Summit runs from October 2-5 at the GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. It is an excellent opportunity for social entrepreneurs to exchange enterprising ideas as well as explore opportunities for synergy so as to create businesses that will empower the Filipino worker.

"We cannot be just a nation of consumers or job seekers. We have no excuse to remain poor. It's time for us Filipinos to define ourselves," says Meloto whose vision is to make the Philippines the Social Business Capital of the world. ###
 Asian Development Bank Vice President Stephen Groff discusses how doing good makes good business sense in emerging Asian markets.
GoNegosyo Founder Joey Concepcion explains how social entrepreneurship can solve many global challenges faced today.
Anna Meloto-Wilk of Human Nature shares how at the heart of business, especially social entrepreneurship, is people. 

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