Everyone needs a sense of purpose to keep them going through life’s challenges. Generation Z, today’s incoming generation of workers and consumers, seems to have a grasp of its importance. According to a study by Acumen Strategy Consultants, these young professionals feel a sense of responsibility to promote and cause positive change. But rather than pursuing change as a side hustle, Gen Z makes it core to their career.

This was especially apparent during this year’s graduation ceremony of the Student Entrepreneurs Incubator (SEI), a program of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Philippines — the local chapter of the global business leader network. SEI’s culminating activity, held last June 3 at Romulo Cafe Makati, was as much a celebration of purpose as it was of achievement.

A display of commitment

SEI was borne out of a need to go beyond the call of duty. While the global EO network was already recognizing young entrepreneurs through their (GSEA), some members of the local chapter felt that it wasn’t enough to celebrate young entrepreneurs. They wanted to inspire and nurture them too.

Over the course of six months, nine student entrepreneurs from all over the Philippines were mentored by an EO Philippines member, all seasoned professionals in their respective industries. The mentees themselves took the lead, organizing their monthly meetings instead of the other way around, inculcating initiative and commitment.

“We recruited student entrepreneurs that we thought are serious about their business and not just doing it for a thesis,” said Jenny Co-Yang, SEI Committee Chair. “Because the mentorship is serious business, right? We’re going to take EO members away from their executive time to mentor.”

Valuable lessons

During the ceremony, some of the student entrepreneurs shared the most valuable insights that they picked up from the program.

Kyla Cubio, owner of organic makeup brand Lè Vres and Business Administration student in the Lyceum of the Philippines Batangas, learned about the value of resilience. “I have learned that it’s okay to fail, as long as you use that failure as a sword in your battle to be successful.”

Paul Medina, owner of green footwear brand Green Rubber (GRub), cited the importance of finding an entrepreneurial mentor and adopting an attitude of gratitude as his biggest takeaways. By applying these lessons to improve his business, he is able to further empower his employees, members of his local PWD community.

“My vision is to create inclusive opportunities and economic empowerment for my PWD community,” said Medina. “And EO has helped me redefine the way we think about the business, our process design, and target market, and how our PWD artisans are at the [fore]front of becoming the new wave of entrepreneurs.”

Finding one’s “why”

This cuts to the heart of what SEI and EO Philippines believe are at the heart of purposeful entrepreneurship: providing jobs that improve employees’ quality of life. Tal de Guzman, owner of shoe brand collaborative Stride Collective and 2013 GSEA Philippines winner, shared how the rocky journey for a conscientious enterprise was so worth it.

“I actually have a lot of what-ifs,” she said. “What if I didn’t decide to involve underserved communities in the business model? Would I have been more profitable, or would I be reaching greater heights? I probably would have. But I wouldn’t really have this fire and drive that I have right now and the love for the communities that I have if I didn’t go through this route.”

“I’m really just thankful to EO and GSEA for leading me to this path,” she said. “It’s really not the direct path, but no [new] roads form if nobody starts walking an unbeaten path. I’m happy that back in 2013, I joined this competition that led me to find my ‘why’ in life.”