Managing for Social Impact
As part of the Managing for Social Impact module on the MSc in Marketing and Creativity, I was a member of a team of 11 ESCP Business School students who travelled to the Philippines in July. Our trip was in partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK), a Philippines-based NGO, and was paid for by each of us individually (although we raised funds as a group). The objective was to develop the skills necessary to generate positive social impact in our future careers as managers.
We arrived in the Philippines at 7:00pm on a Saturday night. For all of us, this was our first time in the Philippines; for some, our first trip to Asia. We were definitely pushed out of our comfort zone right from the start! That first night we stayed with Filipino families in Manila. A long night, since we slept on the floor on mats and blankets. Shower time the next morning was quite a challenge; we even had to use a bucket to flush the toilet. We met up to have breakfast together, and took the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the local community of Taguig, formerly known as Little Tondo – Tondo being the largest slum area in Manila.
Then it was time for the final leg of our journey. As we drove to the GK “Enchanted Farm” 40 minutes from Manila, our excitement and curiosity to see it grew. This was where we would be spending the next two weeks, working on a sustainability project. We were greeted by our hosts and soon found out more about our task.
GK is an Asian solidarity movement for sustainable and inclusive development, and the mission we were given was to support their newest social enterprise, a travel agency called MAD Travel (http://madtravel.org). The vision – and the challenge – would be to develop a solid business plan, based on the social business lean canvas and integrating both an innovative business case and the social case. We must think creatively to develop awareness in socially conscious travellers; the kind who want to volunteer and have an impact even when taking time out fora holiday. Those who see tourism as a chance to learn in a relaxed, informal way about the social challenges of the areas they visit.
To achieve this, it would be important for MAD Travel to offer experiential study tours on a large scale, with international schools, universities and business schools as partners.
Our days with GK were very productive. It is certainly a highly innovative social enterprise, and we benefitted from much experiential learning. We had the chance to share life with Filipino families: eating with them some nights, working in the rice fields and getting to know all the imaginative enterprises they are running at the Enchanted Farm. One of the pioneering social initiatives that comes to my mind is Push and Play (https://www.facebook.com/PlushAndPlay), who name their toys after local celebrities, with the intention that children will play with toys that are tied to their culture
After our very focused and immersive 15-day experience at the Enchanted Farm we formulated our business, social and creative recommendations for MAD Travel. We proposed that they focus on two main segments within the European to gain awareness, recognition and partnerships from business schools in order to keep developing local social entrepreneurs and give communities the chance to provide a better future for their children. Social tourism has a multiplier effect – socially conscious travellers can add value to local communities, not only financially, but also with new skills and a sense of empowerment and self-worth.
This mission introduced us to the concepts of holistic development, social entrepreneurship, sustainable prosperity, culture, peace and globalization. The principles we saw in action have demonstrated their effectiveness in creating innovative, sustainable and scalable social impact, through inclusive value chains and ecosystems that alleviate poverty. With a population of 100 million, 30% of whom are poor, many societal challenges remain for creative problem-solving in the Philippines.
Though we learnt much from social entrepreneurship and social tourism, and each of us experienced different things during our stay at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, I think that the most special thing we took from it is the importance of investing one’s work with passion and inspiration in order to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you have financial resources or not, or a high profile education. It’s about being willing to help, and to add value with every step you make in life. Since my time at GK I always judge the decisions I make according to the added value of my actions. And adding value comes with passion and inspiration. Even if you are not having the brightest day, keep your smile on – because everyone is fighting for something in life, whether it’s poverty, a sick relative, loneliness or whatever.
If you want to explore our project further, look for the public Facebook album “Taking over the Philippines” by Migsaave Ferrario, where you can see posts from our experiences at the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm.