On Social Entrepreneurship & Teaching Innovations

Last year, I started getting involved in Bayan Academy Center for Social Entrepreneurship & Human Resour... ("BA"). BA is part of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation, which started out as a straightforward and traditional Microfinance Institution in 1997. But when Dr. Ed "Edmo" Morato took over in the mid 2000s (leaving the Asian Institute of Management), he transformed the Bayan into:

"a social and enterprise development institution dedicated to building
the nation from below through entrepreneurship, education, and
community development and rehabilitation."

Upon taking over as Bayan Foundation's Chairman, Edmo saw that most borrowers (over 99%) were not improving their lives with the money they were borrowing. Therefore, he changed the focus of Bayan into training these borrowers to become micro to small entrepreneurs, who would use the money they loan on actual enterprises. Edmo turned lending money from an end into a tool. In all honesty, I couldn't capture and do justice to the brilliance of Bayan's transformation under Edmo. It shouldn't come as a surprise from the man who first coined the term and wrote the first book on "Social Entrepreneurship". Supposedly, Harvard professor Jim Austin adopted the term after visiting AIM.

One of the major BA initiatives that I was recently involved with is BA's partnership with JP Morgan Chase & Co, the JPMCC Entrepreneurship Education Program for Community Development, an
education initiative focused on developing and enhancing the
entrepreneurial skills of the parents and/or siblings of World Vision Philippines-
sponsored children in the Baseco community in Manila.

Admittedly, I wasn't that familiar with Baseco before this assignment. Baseco is one of the country's poorest areas, home to over 6,000 families living in shanties. Most of these shanties do not even have electricity. As per Dr. Ned Roberto's seminal book "A Guide to the Socio-Economic Classification of Filipino Consumers", 85% of the country's DE market (on and below the poverty line) own a colored television set. Clearly, Baseco is among the poorest of the poor.

I, along with other BA trainers / consultants, were tasked to develop teaching modules focused on the management attitudes, skills, competencies & processes needed to translate TESDA-accredited skills into sustainable and successful businesses, specifically: Facial Center, Beauty Parlor / Salon, Spa & Massage Center and a Food Business. Concurrent to the management training, the selected students would also go through a rigorous technical skills training administered by industry experts. I was assigned the Spa Business. The Reyes International School of Cosmetology took care of the technical skills. Below is the outline of the course I had to develop, spread across 10 half-day sessions:

The above outline is identical to the pedagogical frameworks of the "Development of Enterprise" subject we took in our MBA in AIM and the Masters in Entrepreneurship program in the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. In other words, Edmo wanted to teach these students, who never even finished basic elementary education, in ways akin to a masters degree student. That's one important lesson I learned: everyone should be taught the best things there are to learn.

That mandate's weight became real to me when I started session 1, which was a three-hour session on the Opportunities in the Spa market. Upon meeting my students, I quickly realized I needed to have a different teaching program for them. I needed to speak in ways relevant and resonant to them, not only in language, but more importantly in sensibilities, motivations and beliefs.

So, for the succeeding modules, I created over 20 characters, people from various walks of life, with different personalities and backgrounds. I created imaginary cities and streets with funny names. I developed Tagalog telenovela-esque stories interweaving these people, the cities with the management lessons I had to deliver. I made the stories progress and the characters grow as the modules went forward. On top of that, I delivered most of the modules in poem form, filled with humor and humanity. I made an ecosystem similar to The Simpsons' Springfield.

I interspersed these presentations with games that were fun & simple, but deep in the management lessons it made the students experience. They became detectives, teachers, difficult customers, sales people, aside from the other roles they had to assume and act out in the various exercises.

The students definitely learned the lessons. They became conversant in terms of Ned Hermann's brain dominance model as a tool for customer profiling, they understood the importance of a healthy working capital, they learned the various ways a location can be screened in terms of viability, among other things. Just as the characters in my stories evolved, so too did the students.

I was likewise astounded as to how the characters I created became a consistent theme in our discussions. The students would cite the various characters as examples to prove their point during class discussions.  Sometimes, they knew my characters better than I did.

On April 18, 2012, the students graduated. The ceremony was held at the Townhall Area of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. headquarters at the Fort Bonifacio Global City. Seeing the students in togas, happily accepting their diplomas was profoundly heartwarming.

One of the graduates gave a speech where he contrasted his life after going through the module versus when he was a "good-for-nothing bum".

As per Rowell Ocampo:

"Dati, ang turing ko sa sarili ko ay isang taong walang kapakinabangan dahil sa kakulangan ng aking kaalaman. Nahihiya ako sa sarili ko dahil di man lang ako makatulong sa pamilya ko. Ngayon, malinaw na ang aking bukas at mapaghahandaan ko na ang kinabukasan ng aking pamilya."

Rough translation:
"I used to considere myself a person with no value due to lack of education. I was ashamed of myself because I couldn't even help my family. Now, my future is brighter and I could help the future of my family."

Source: http://www.edmorato.com/public/public/newsEvents.php?news=12

By then, he already had a job in Reyes Haircutters (one of the country's biggest chain of beauty & wellness salons). Most, if not all of the students already had jobs waiting for them. Of course, they still needed the actual work experience before they can finally put up their own businesses. Once they get the experience, Bayan already has something in store for them. Bayan is already finalizing low-cost social franchise businesses (spa, salons, food carts) with the likes of Reyes Haircutters and Mister Donut Philippines to be offered to the students.

On one of my discussions with Edmo, a person who has been a management educator and consultant since 1975, I asked him who are the most challenging students to teach. According to him, more than multinational executives, MBA students and hard-nosed entrepreneurs, students like those from Baseco are the hardest. They are tough to motivate, they are impenetrable to connect with and they have the most to gain...if you are successful.

With my students.

check out www.ideyainnovation.com

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