The View From Taft
By Emilina R. Sarreal
Entrepreneurship is one of the vital engines of economic growth in the Philippines as it stimulates production and innovation. Our country is regarded as one of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s fastest-growing economies, with a projected 6.7% GDP growth rate heavily relying on micro-, small-, and medium-enterprises over the next two years.
Despite our projected GDP growth, we are still behind our neighbors such as Singapore and Malaysia, which have stronger entrepreneurship ecosystems, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI), a research organization that seeks to advance knowledge on the relationships among entrepreneurship, economic development, and prosperity.
GEDI’s Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) measures the quality and dynamics of entrepreneurship ecosystems at national and regional levels. GEI data are culled from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Adult Population Survey and from various agencies. The GEI has three sub-indices that serve as a platform for the 14 pillars of the entrepreneurial ecosystem: entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities, and aspirations. GEDI’s website (https://thegedi.org/tool/) shows GEI results in three ways: 1.) a country’s GEI results per sub-index, with colors indicating which quartile the score falls into; 2.) the spider chart, which shows country performance compared with to up to three benchmark countries; and 3.) a table that provides a guide for policy formulation and answers the question “Where should a country put its resources to improve its GEI score?”
GEI results show that the Southeast Asian (SEA) nations that had higher 2018 GEI scores than the Philippines, such as Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Vietnam, and Cambodia, are also stronger in human capital and process innovation (except for Brunei) than the Philippines. Except for Singapore, the common weakest point among SEA nations is technology absorption, which reflects the technology-intensity of a country’s start-up activity. Technology absorption is an entrepreneurial ability that has to be honed and invested in. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem needs to be developed in terms of not only institutional regulations and policies but also entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities, and aspirations.
GEI distinguishes between small business owners who replicate what others are doing from entrepreneurs who innovate. The Filipino social entrepreneur respondents in the 2015 GEM Social Entrepreneurship Report classify themselves as innovative value creators who gain access to large markets by identifying opportunities, developing products, satisfying clients, motivating staff, handling distribution, and managing pricing in unfamiliar contexts. This report also shows that the average rate of innovativeness of social entrepreneurs globally is 1.6%, with variations from an estimated low of 0.1% in Iran and Bulgaria to a high of 4% in the Philippines and Israel.
A social entrepreneur seeks to maximize social impact, usually by addressing an urgent need that is being mishandled, overlooked, or ignored by other institutions. In contrast, a traditional or business entrepreneur strives to maximize profits or shareholder wealth, or to build an ongoing business that provides value to customers and meaningful work to employees.
Both business and social entrepreneurs, despite their differing main objectives, should address their customers’ increasing demand for innovative products and services. Thus, the new breed of entrepreneurial and innovative value creators — whether traditional or social — has to be recognized so that these entrepreneurs can share their stories and encourage other young people to also contribute to nation-building and economic development.
To help do this, the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business (RVRCOB) of De La Salle University co-launched with Phinma and the Junior Chamber International Manila last year the RVR-Siklab Awards, a nationwide search for young individuals who are both leaders and change makers. Last year’s awardees were Clarissa Isabelle Delgado, co-founder and CEO of Teach for the Philippines; Edgar Elago, founder of Project Scholar, Cooltura Couture, and Project ADAMMS; Gary Ayuste, founder of Beengo Farm; Melissa Young-Yap, founder and executive director of Got Heart Foundation; and Jan Bernard Tan, co-founder of iVolunteer Philippines and The Good Store Philippines.
Outstanding youth leaders for this year’s search can be nominated online at bit.ly/RVRSiklabAwards2020 until March 31. To be nominated, the person should be a Filipino citizen or a Philippine passport-holder whose work has made a positive impact in a community in the Philippines. He or she must be between 25 to 40 years old; not have been charged with any case nor have any pending case in any court; possess a significant leadership role in his or her organization for at least three years; demonstrated a positive impact on a community in the Philippines; and exemplify entrepreneurial spirit, impact of business or social enterprise, corporate citizenship, and social responsibility.
Dr. Emilina R. Sarreal is the Dean of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University.