The Leo Parma–Asiapro Professorial Chair for Social Entrepreneurship: Social Entrepreneurship towards Local Economy and Rural Development Conference

“This conference will make history in the Philippine economy,” commented Dr. Bernardo Villegas in his talk at the Social Entrepreneurship towards Local Economy and Rural Development Conference, organized by the School of Economics and the Center for Research and Communication on December 6, 2012.  With the theme “Fostering the Spirit of Social Entrepreneurship towards Local Economy and Rural Development”, the whole-day discussion covered theories and best practices on how to translate GDP growth into inclusive growth.

The participants included representatives from Asiapro Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Globalpro Cooperative, the Federation of People’s Sustainable Development Cooperative, and Ligas Kooperatiba ng Bayan sa Pagpapaunlad, among others.  The objective of the conference, as explained by Mr. Bienvenito Nito of UA&P, was to enlighten participants with examples of private sector involvement in improving the lives of poor, especially in rural areas.

Mr. Mark Yu of Sea OilIn his talk, Mr. Mark Yu of Seaoil focused on providing employment to the underprivileged and producing high-margin products and services.  Mr. Bienvenido Nito explained the essence of cooperatives as mutual help and self-reliance.  Ms. Maria Teresa Garnace of the Philippine Army Finance Center Producers Integrated Cooperative gave a presentation on her father, Col. Efren Zaide, and how he developed PAFCPIC into a leading cooperative.  Mr. Ludwig Von Malaluan of the Buklod-Unlad Multi-Purpose Cooperative highlighted how training in quality assurance improved the incomes of rural livestock breeders.  Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas discussed how social entrepreneurship as a means of poverty reduction has been institutionalized.  Usec. Jerry Pacturan of the Department of Agrarian Reform described Project ARCESS, which trained farmers step-by-step from securing land to agri-entrepreneurship.  Mr. Arsenio Barcelona of Harbest expounded on the technology used in Taiwanese vegetable research, and Mr. Edwin Nerva of the Center for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development highlighted the need to upgrade farmers’ knowledge and competencies.

Dr. Bernardo Villegas

One of the major insights from the conference was that loan assistance and training in new technologies were successful means of encouraging farmers to join cooperatives.  With the insights gained and positive response from the participants, Mr. Bienvenido Nito suggested that an expanded social entrepreneurship conference be held in 2013.