Entrepreneurship is defined as the capacity to develop and create, develop, and organize a business to gain a profit. Following the events of the war starting 1945, scarcity was evident in a global scale. Due to this, the “Baby Boomers” generation believed that having more meant more success. This introduced the traditional ideology that businesses should earn a large profit instead of creating products that would benefit society. However, new startup businesses are breaking tradition and are using business to not only gain profit, but to bring something useful and more sustainable into the world.
A social enterprise is a form of business that focuses more on humanitarian related goals. Compared to mainstream businesses, social enterprises operate with certain advocacies in their main objectives, and the revenue they gain is shared with their specific target groups. In 1999, a group of non-government organizations (NGOs) formed the Philippine Social Enterprise Network (PhilSEN), which paved the way for the growth of various social enterprises. In relation to the PhilSEN, there is also an established group of social enterprise advocates called the Poverty Reduction Through Social Entrepreneurship (PRESENT) Coalition, formed sometime in 2012. The PRESENT Coalition consists of around 20 networks of social entrepreneurs and support organizations, such as microfinance institutions (MFIs), small producer groups and academics and service providers. According to a previous study released by the British Council Philippines in 2015, as of 2007, there was already an estimate of 30,000 social enterprises, composed mostly of cooperatives and associations of some form, while there were 500 MFIs.
Today, social enterprises are gaining more popularity as more people are given opportunities to do so, especially the youth. A current officer in a startup organization of DLSU mentions that even “big corporations now are reaching out to startups for better services and skills – you do not need to work for corporate to be in corporate.”
De La Salle University offers programs to train aspiring entrepreneurs into the field and eventually has gained a reputation to be a pioneer in producing the top business innovators. Whether being a part of the corporate ladder or establishing their own business, DLSU excels in creating the best fit candidates.
Under the Center for Social Concern and Action (COSCA) is a component focused on the promotion of social enterprises known as the Lasallian Social Enterprise for Economic Development (LSEED). LSEED is also one of the main components under DLSU’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Localization Project, working on SDGs eight and 17, focused on promoting sustainable economic growth, strengthening means of implementing and global partnerships.
According to a previous article by The LaSallian, LSEED has initiated capacity building sessions and formation programs for students, employees and community members from partner communities. Some of the components of the programs offered are community immersions, learning sessions, and social enterprise development. The main goal of all these is to provide free equal consultancy for the formation of various community social enterprises.
Students in business
In the Lasallian community, students (particularly those in the business programs) are encouraged to create their own product line that would be presented for a week. This serves as an avenue to create a legitimized business venture, and to showcase it to the student body. However, some students decide to keep the business for just that particular week instead of pursuing the enterprise even further. Several business students have expressed that working in the corporate setting after graduating would be more fitting than establishing their own business right away. Renee Capa (IV, DSM-ADV) states that being in the corporate field would help learn the ropes around the advertising world. “Once I’d gain the experience, I’d have the confidence to actually make my own company,” she adds. Kyla Deonoso (II, OCM-MKT) shared the same sentiments, saying, “I want to gain experience first by pursuing a career as well as learning as much as I can from the different career possibilities that are open to me in the future.”
Contrary to this, some students preferred starting their own businesses without having the experience gained in a corporate setting. Marie Tayag (III, CAM-ADV) asserts that “starting your own personal business is more challenging but yet more exciting. You will be able to experience a lot and watch your company grow.” The idea of being their own boss appeals to students as well, the freedom to run things at their own pace without having to report to anyone but themselves.
Despite being a known pioneer in creating the best innovators, some students feel that there is room for improvement in terms of the programs the University can offer. “DLSU is a place for collaborative learning and networking but it still lacks resources in helping student entrepreneurs launch their own business,” says UnBoxd officer Irene dela Cruz. Due to this, students decided to take matters into their own hands.
UnBoxd is a newly formed organization that provides a network of student startups and stakeholders. While the organization is primarily known to the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business (RVR-COB), other colleges are also invited to build a community of innovators. Irene Dela Cruz, the Vice President for Operations, says that the main goal of UnBoxd is to “offer a foundation in helping members engage in the startup scene.”
Dela Cruz shares that, “from our observation, DLSU students are eager and passionate to start their own startups but when faced with problems such as the lack of capital, manpower, and mentorship they tend to get discouraged easily. Students should realize that building a startup is not the ticket to a good resume but rather an all-out experience for self-growth. After hearing countless pitches and interning in a startup, it is safe to say that startups are definitely not for everyone. It’s not a 9 to 5 job, it’s a 24/7 endeavor that could bring so much emotional turmoil,” she highlights.
Considering that innovation is becoming an entrepreneurial factor in terms of solving national problems, more and more individuals are drawn to startup communities because its business model allows more creativity and flexibility. However, Dan Arambulo, the president of UnBoxd states that the organization focuses on the development of the innovator, rather than the innovation itself. While both factors are considered important, focusing on the creator also generates the same effect to the creation. The growth of their members is envisioned along with certain steps to take such as technical events, connecting student startups to stakeholders, and building a community of innovators. Moreover, Dela Cruz mentions that the organization has conducted monthly sessions with startup founders, who shared their stories of success and failure.
UnBoxd, with its success today, also started with several failures. One of the former founders of UnBoxd retells the formation of the organization that initially started when Idea’Yala, a competition of innovation, came to DLSU in 2014. As their team of five members placed 5th, they were able to obtain a fund and also kept close contact with the organizers. “We pitched to him, I think a couple years later, what if we bring Idea’Yala to La Salle, as a big society. We got turned down,” he says. However, this refusal permitted UnBoxd to be founded by the same team. “We wanted different fields to work together. Marketing, finance, and technology. They can all work together and form a product,” he says.
Today, UnBoxd has a total of 50 members, coming from diverse undergraduate courses. With its continuous growth, the organization remains along the lines of its primary goal — building a community of entrepreneurs with the vision of changing the world. “The reason why UnBoxd keeps doing what it does, is because we believe that somewhere out there is a Jobs, a Gates, a Kalanic or a Zuckerberg, it’s just our job to make sure they become that,” Dan Arambulo, President of UnBoxd says in encouragement of DLSU’s startup community.