The Philippine economy turned upside down when the pandemic struck. Many business establishments were forced to close, if not downsize operations. Amid the uncertain situation, however, entrepreneurs found a promising way to survive through social enterprise.
But even before the unprecedented crisis, Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Foundation has been supporting social enterprises for seven years with executive director Owen Cammayo at the helm.
In a conversation with Daily Tribune, Owen recalled how he adapted in leading the foundation to steer social enterprises (SE) with positive results.
Cammayo said that the safety of his team has always been of paramount importance. But when the entire foundation had to abruptly transition into digital operations, he had to practice “agile and flexible leadership” to keep up with the changes.
“A crisis, no matter how horrible, still create an opportunity,” Owen said.
He proceeded to lead the BPI Foundation team to “develop more underserved communities, an opportunity to ignite the bayanihan spirit.”
To support its SE advocacy, which consists of 3Ps — people, planet and profit — BPI Foundation recently launched the Sinag Spark business challenge. The hackathon-style contest gives SE end-to-end support from seed money to mentorship and to distribution.
“We’re really building a real community of SE, or even pushing for a national SE agenda this year. So we plan to work with the public sector to formalize this
sub-sector and enable more SEs to develop and then flourish as businesses,” Cammayo said.
In the previous competition editions, he said that three SEs stood out: Lola Sayong — farm surfing in Bicol; Virtualahan that trains PWD using technology; and Agribusiness.
But given a chance to put up his own SE, he said that he will focus on food security. He will create a mechanism to make sure that “unused food is still safe and then donate to a local community pantry.”
Cammayo believes that “people are not dying because of Covid-19, they’re dying because of hunger.”
With optimism, Cammayo’s faith that Filipinos helping each other must not stop.
“The number of Filipino families going hungry involuntarily has hit a record 21.1 percent for the whole of 2020, according to a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS). Hunger remains to be a major cause of death for many of our countrymen in this time of COVID-19.”