NUS MBA Social Impact Club Visit to the Philippines

Yeo Siew Mui, President of the NUS MBA Social Impact Club, reports on the club’s learning from five visits to different organizations in the Philippines with a clear social vision.

With support from the NUS Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Philanthrophy, six of us from the NUS MBA and two of the MBA exchange students planned a visit to the Philippines from 4th May – 9th May 2010. During the trip, we visited five organisations in Manila and explored social issues in Philippines. We saw how different actors – Unilever, United Laboratories, Gawad Kalinga, World Bank and Asian Development Bank worked individually but yet are collectively striving towards eradicating poverty in Philippines.

The trip opened our eyes on Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) activities and how companies formulate their CSR plans. One of the key takeaways we had was how collaborative the companies were. Unilever shared with us on how they are working with other companies to collect back plastic sachets and used packaging from consumers regardless of which company the product packaging was from. We also learnt about an NGO which was formed by companies to coordinate and work together on CSR Projects in Philippines.

The meetings we had with Gawad Kalinga (GK), an International NGO, also allowed us to understand more about social entrepreneurship. Prior to the trip, the team researched and put our business skills into good use by putting together a presentation on how GK can expand their social entrepreneurship initiative into Singapore. At Manila, we made our presentation and had an interesting discussion on social entrepreneurship. During our visits, we also saw firsthand how direct selling of Human Heart Nature products by a GK affiliated company provided livelihood opportunities and income for the GK villages. The highlight for the trip would most likely be the one night stay with a host family which allowed us to experience the simplicity of life these slum dwellers had.

Another aspect gained from the trip was the bigger picture provided by the World Bank and Asian Development bank. We saw how these developmental banks work with the various governments of developing countries to cascade resources down to help the poor in a systematic, sustainable and comprehensive manner. These organisations too, placed importance on building and strengthening more public and private partnerships.

In all, this trip complemented our academic learning at the NUS Business School. Each of us saw for ourselves how collaborative efforts outweigh competition and how business disciplines such as entrepreneurship and innovation operate in profit and non-profit organisations.

Yeo Siew Mui 
President, Social Impact Club