Interview with Alfie Othman and Gomer Padong by LIFEIN

We share a brief interview with Alfie Othman (raiSE) and Gomer Padong (PhilSEN) during the Asia Policy Dialogue 2018 (4~5 Jul, 2018) conducted by LIFEIN; Korean News media specialised in the social economy (Under the approval of LIFEIN, the original article is translated and summarised by the GSEF Secretariat).

Interview with Alfie Othman (CEO, raiSE)

Q. Singapore has its unique economic model, how social enterprises cope with the system?

A. Singapore has many economic and social regulations, but there is no regulation for social enterprises as it is a nascent sector and there is a consensus that the regulations could hamper its growth. So for those who want to start businesses these days, they prefer social enterprises. If we look closely, there are actually many young people (millennium generation) start social enterprises. This generation has a consumption pattern that favours products have social values and Fairtrade goods. As these young generation is going to be consumers, voters and investors in the near future, I believe the general trends and environments will become more favourable to the social enterprises.

Q. What type of social economy organisations does exist in Singapore?

A. Singapore does not allow co-ops to run for profit making businesses and they are subject to different type of regulations as they primarily pursue benefits of co-op members. So we do have social economy in enterprise form only. From the investors’ perspectives, co-ops have a difficulty in scaling up in terms of its size and profit as their primary focus is on their members.

Q. What kind of requests is being made to the government for the growth of social enterprises.

A. The government is providing financial support for more than 300 social enterprises. In order social enterprises to be self-sufficient, the government intervention should be minimal. We are currently working on identifying whether certain organisations can be categorised actually social enterprises, but once the sector grows further, I believe we need certain legal frameworks for certifying these organisations.

Interview with Gomer Padong (Director, PhilSEN)

Q. We believe that there is political instability and risks in the Philippines, how the social economy sector is doing under this environment?

A. Social enterprises in Philippines initially started with the idea of improving sustainability of social enterprises, particularly after the termination of funding from international development donors. As the government regards the social economy as a productive and beneficial for development, it regards social enterprises from the economic perspectives and has included the social economy in its Philippine development plan. Past 10 years, social economy has grown substantially. As of now, there are 165,000 social enterprises of which 44% employees are women.

Q. Why do you think that youth joins social enterprises?

A. Youth generation has received many things without much difficulty and they think that they should share what they have enjoyed back to the society. Contrary to the materialistic trend in the past, nowadays the youth wants to challenge and start the new things.

Q. What do you demand to the government?

A. In the Philippines, there is no difficulty in establishing social enterprises, but they do not enjoy any special treatments or support from the government and we need systems that appreciate the values generated and importance of social enterprises.

Currently, the government supports projects financially, however, there are uneducated people who lack business mindset and I believe that we need support from the government not only financial support but also capacity building. We are demanding the government a better recognition of values created by social enterprises, public finance support measures such as public procurements and market accesses.