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Love lessons from social enterprises

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Patrick Adriel H. Aure

The View From Taft

Love lessons from social enterprises

As the Filipino rock band Rivermaya sang, “Panahon na naman ng pag-ibig (It’s the season of love again).” For couples, the coolness of the February breeze is warmed by the intimacy a lover brings. For others, friends and families celebrate treasured companionships. After all, The Beatles exclaimed, “All you need is love!”

Love is universal, in the sense that everyone — regardless of background, ethnicity, religion, or profession — has an appreciation of what love is. I realized this during my research projects studying social enterprises. (See? Research is not supposed to be boring. Who knew we could learn more about love through research?)

Social enterprises are unique types of organizations whose business ideas empower solutions to solve society’s pressing problems such as poverty, environmental sustainability, and cultural preservation. We can only imagine how hard it is to introduce innovations that reconcile profits and solve social problems. However, these very difficulties lead to lessons about love that we can apply in our own relationships.

Love is a choice.

Love is not just a passive feeling, or that #kilig sensation we feel as we imagine butterflies flying in our stomachs. Rather, it is about choosing to love despite (or better yet, because of!) imperfections. Authentic social entrepreneurs and social enterprises deliberately seek the marginalized and the neglected, work with them to come up with mutually beneficial solutions, and execute innovative ideas until a commercially viable but socially sustainable outcome is achieved.

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When love is thought of as an action to be chosen rather than an emotion to be felt, it becomes more of a verb rather than a noun. If actions speak louder than words, then love best expresses itself when we act on it.

Love is a commitment and a partnership.

It is easy to like social media posts of couples celebrating monthsaries and other milestones. But what the public does not see are the challenges of maintaining a relationship that is founded on commitment and partnership. Long-time couples will attest that obstacles and temptations need to be overcome after the early “best foot forward” phase of relationships.

The same holds true for social enterprises.

After the initial rush of passion and idealism, more lucrative and financially rewarding opportunities may become more attractive. It is easy to dwell on imperfections and give up on helping partner communities. But the social enterprise, community partners, and customers are empowered by mutual faith and belief. They forgive shortcomings and push each other to be the best versions of themselves. Rather than settling for compromises, they seek win-win solutions by trying to reconcile all stakeholders’ objectives.

Thus, when love is viewed as a commitment and partnership, #hugot takes an interesting form.

It no longer dwells on frustrations and negative experiences. Rather, #hugot becomes a manifestation of an inspiration anchored on mutual commitment and partnership.

Love is about proper timing.

In a society spoiled by instant gratification, it is easy to think that love just happens. Couples want to fast-track intimate acts, live in together, and even rush into marriage without appreciating the time it takes to build a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and acceptance.

The same goes with commercial start-ups.

A founder may want to scale up as fast as possible even if the ideas and the foundation of the organization are not yet strong.

In my research, I have discovered that social enterprises that succeed in terms of longevity and of reconciling business and social objectives appreciate the importance of timing. They do not aspire to scale up right away if doing so will strain their community partners. Rather, they diligently fortify their resources and their competencies before capitalizing on opportunities.

O kay tagal din kitang mamahalin (I will love you for a long time).”

The lyrics above are from Sugarfree’s (another Filipino rock band) hit single “Burnout,” a song lamenting the difficulties of love. Both people and social enterprises will experience various challenges that will test relationships. But if they try to apply the three love lessons from social enterprises, perhaps they can better manage their relationships.

To repeat The Beatles, “Love is all you need!”

 

Patrick Adriel H. Aure is a faculty member of the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University (DLSU), and is a junior research fellow of the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development. He is excited about exploring cases featuring social enterprises, sustainability, innovation, and new business models.

patrick.aure@dlsu.edu.ph

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