The growth of the new economy has enabled the rise of social enterprises in the Philippines – companies focused on new products and solutions while bringing innovative, practical, and sustainable approaches that also help bring social and environmental impact. The good news is that these kinds of enterprises have allowed Filipino entrepreneurs to make a business out of their passions.
Among these social entrepreneurs is Krie Lopez, founder of Messy Bessy, an organization that produces and sells natural cleaning and personal care products. This institution was founded with the main purpose of providing education, employment, and rehabilitation to disadvantaged women and inspiring them to live a normal life despite their previous experiences.
“As a social enterprise, we believe that it is possible to create an impact for underprivileged people and make a difference while running a business,” Lopez said. “By discussing solutions and sharing insights, we hope to inspire and fuel new thinking among today’s generation to address social issues like women abuse.”
Social enterprises such as Messy Bessy hold a powerful impact on households, communities, and societies. This organization's efforts become more profound when they successfully intertwine their for-profit business to fund the continuous development programs of at-risk women.
More time to focus on what matters
As these social enterprises face new challenges to growth, SAP has designed a Social Sabbatical program for employees to volunteer in helping social enterprises across the globe run at their best and supporting them to maximize their social impact. To reach these goals, SAP employees are placed in highly diverse teams to dedicate their skills, expertise, and know-how in unique, short-term assignments focused on driving simplicity and customer success while strengthening the social enterprises' leadership competencies, cross-industry sector know-how, and intercultural sensitivity. This year, 12 volunteers from SAP Concur in the Philippines have participated in the program for a six-week assignment with four social enterprises in the country.
Messy Bessy joined the program to address the lack of cohesiveness in their accounting functions. This is especially integral for the enterprise since they manage the records of their natural household and personal care products, as well as other operational processes, manually.
Social sabbatical volunteers from SAP Concur in the Philippines contributed to streamlining Messy Bessy’s accounting framework. Their efforts included specific tasks such as appointing data owners, maintaining and owning data updates needed, building online order forms, and creating an excel network to synergize functions in Messy Bessy’s processes.
”The SAP Social Sabbatical program was a great experience because we learned so much and we were touched by the support of the team,” added Lopez. “We really got the advantage of reducing redundancies and became more efficient with our time so that we can focus on what really matters in our work – the young adults in our program.”
Helping enterprises in their mission to change society for good
Cropital, a crowd-funding platform that connects individuals to help finance farmers, also participated in the social sabbatical. Cropital CEO Ruel Amparo founded the social enterprise with Rachel de Villa and Lester Wayne Pile, who serve as CTO and CFO respectively. Ruel, Rachel, and Lester realized the Philippines is largely an agricultural country, yet two out of three farmers live below the poverty line – a reality that they deem as unacceptable and which they aimed to change through Cropital.
To start, Cropital sought out to augment the income and productivity of farmers through crowdfunding. By building a community of investors they call “impactmakers,” farmers can have access to scalable and sustainable financing.
“Our business model revolves around providing users and investors an opportunity to directly impact the lives of our unsung heroes while still growing their money. By joining our community, we provide local farmers a chance to continue producing crops and have a better life,” said Amparo.
Cropital’s biggest challenge, however, is that despite the many members, the numbers of those who avail are too few. The company needs valuable insights to identify other factors that hinder them from increasing the beneficiaries in Santamasi, Laguna, where they operate.
Cropital went through a series of on-site research for three weeks to address these challenges. During this period, the company completed a site visit, brainstormed and crystalized work plan, prepared marketing materials, and attended meetings, among many others tasks.
“We are thankful to be a part of the Social Sabbatical program. It helped us gain meaningful and actionable insights to tackle our problem. With SAP team’s support, we are excited to see the outcome from the help the SAP social sabbatical volunteers did in improving our marketing processes and improving our presence in Santamasi,” said Amparo.
Aside from Cropital and Messy Bessy, there are other two notable social enterprises that participated in this year’s SAP Social Sabbatical. One is Edukasyon.ph, an Edtech startup that connects millions of students to educational opportunities through an online platform, helping them from education to employment. The other is YGOAL, a consultancy service specializing on project development, training and development, and impact assessment to find solutions to their specific business challenges.
A win-win program
In the end, the social sabbatical remains a win-win situation for both the volunteer-employee and the social enterprise—with the goals of driving simplicity and customer success for the company, strengthening volunteers’ leadership competencies, and boosting cross-industry sector knowledge and intercultural sensitivity.
“SAP allowed us to embark on something precious where we can use our skills to make a difference to our society,” said Rona Mae Domondon, manager for implementation services under SAP Concur who did the social sabbatical under Messy Bessy. “We spent six exciting weeks where we not only contributed, but gained memorable learnings and shared life experiences throughout the program.”
Edler Panlilio, managing director of SAP Philippines, could not agree more. He said, “As a company, we set our goal to develop SAP leaders and talents to understand the global consequences of today’s digital shift. But more than that, we believe that this actively fulfills our purpose of helping the world run better and improve peoples’ lives.”
Since the Social Sabbatical for local engagement was launched in 2014, SAP has engaged 225 participants in 11 countries across four continents, and has invested 37,000 skills-based volunteering hours.