Editorial: Higher aspirations

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

FEWER than six million Filipinos out of the 38 million who were of working age in 2013 possessed a college degree. One out of every three Pinoys, according to the government’s statistics office, had a high school diploma when they competed for work.

For some five million Filipinos between the ages of 5 and 17, full-time schooling remained out of reach, because their family’s needs drove them to start working early.

These figures stand in contrast to that dream of university life as one of exploration, a time for our young to find that ideal balance where their “greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need,” as the theologian Frederick Buechner put it.


Yet in the last decade, the increasing popularity of social entrepreneurship has created a lot of hope, particularly that more doors can be opened for the working youth.

In contrast to the largely careerist mindset of many of today’s older public and corporate leaders, some of the brightest young minds are finding ways to include social change in their organizations’ bottom lines.

For this promising new set, it is no longer enough that corporations create products and services to satisfy consumers’ needs and whims. What they want is work that will allow them to try to address a social need, from the lack of clean water and safe homes, to the threat of joblessness that hounds the less fortunate among their age group.

Of course, like traditional entrepreneurs, these emerging social entrepreneurs face wide-ranging challenges, among them the scarcity of capital, the need to prove their organizations’ sustainability, and the tangle of red tape at several levels of government.

But they are worth watching and supporting, because their way forward is what the times demand. Operating somewhere between unbridled corporate ambition and non-profit idealism, social entrepreneurs are reminding us that work, when done with the greater good as its top priority, can truly change lives.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.


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