Empowering Social Change with Products that Look Good, Feel Good, and Do Good

This blog post was originally published on NextDayBetter’s blog by our co-founder Gelaine Santiago as part of our content partnership with them.
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It’s been almost a year since Jérôme and I first launched ChooseSocial.PH. Time flies, and neither of us could have imagined where our journey would take us. Since we launched our online directory of social enterprises in the Philippines, we’ve grown it from zero to more than 80 social enterprises, were speakers at the NextDayBetter event in Toronto earlier this year, and were featured on Rappler, one of the biggest publications in the Philippines. We both also quit our day jobs to work on our latest venture (but more on that in a bit!). Life really is full of surprises.

It’s also full of opportunities. When we initially launched ChooseSocial.PH, it was just a passion project we worked on for fun. When people began asking us where they could buy these social enterprise products in North America, we had our aha! moment. Why stop at awareness and education? What if we could tangibly help these social enterprises scale their impact and become financially sustainable? What if we could get their products in front of more people? Imagine the impact that could have.

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Jérôme and I were invited to speak at the NextDayBetter event in Toronto earlier this year

 

Enter Cambio Market, Jérôme and mine’s latest venture. We help grow socially responsible businesses in the Philippines and around the world by helping them reach a wider market. Every product in our store is handcrafted, ethically sourced, and linked to a social cause. Currently we have community partners in North America like Purpose Jewelry (jewelry handcrafted by victims of modern-day slavery rescued in India and California) and Ezzy Lynn (handmade hair accessories that help species at risk). We also support Filipino social enterprises like the benevolent Olivia & Diego (eco-ethical and sustainable jewelry made from upcycled materials) and The Paper Project (handcrafted greeting cards made by survivors of sex trafficking). Being able to work with and support our community partners is so humbling and exciting, but we also love the part where we can connect people like YOU to causes you genuinely care about.

That’s actually why we started ChooseSocial.PH in the first place. We wanted to inspire people to CHOOSE SOCIAL – to choose to live consciously, support impactful organizations, and enact social change in ways both big and small. Cambio Market was a natural next step for us to take our mission further.

CAMBIO is the Spanish word for CHANGE. We want to change communities (and individuals) for the better. We want to change how traditional businesses operate, how people perceive “giving back” and living ethically, how people shop and where they shop. That’s why every single purchase you make at Cambio Market creates positive change: that upcycled necklace you just bought means less waste in the landfill and fair wages for the artisans who made it, the birthday card you gave your friend is helping a former victim of sex trafficking find dignified work to support her family, and the earrings you’re wearing help a former child slave get a quality education. YOUR choices, YOUR actions, and YOUR impact – Jérôme and I are just here to provide the means to do it.

So what’s coming next? We have a lot of work to do when it comes to raising awareness. We need to grow our revenue in order to raise our ability to support our existing partners and our capacity to take on new ones. The two of us are taking an extended trip to the Philippines this winter to meet with suppliers in person and foster stronger connections with the amazing social entrepreneurs we’ve met (online) this past year. With all this, ChooseSocial.PH will have to take a backseat for now as we focus on growing Cambio Market, but we’ll still be around and will continue growing our directory (fingers crossed!).

Just like we could never have imagined we would be here a year ago, neither of us have a clue where any of this will be in the next year (or even in the next few months). But the only thing we do know with certainty is that change is afoot, and to us, that’s a WONDERFUL thing.

Are you also passionate about ethical living, sustainable fashion, and giving back? Pay us a visit at www.cambio.market and help us spread the word. Together, we can have a real and meaningful impact.

Made in the Philippines: Social Enterprise Incubator Supports Products Made By Filipinos, For Filipinos

This blog post was originally published on NextDayBetter’s blog by our co-founder Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer as part of our content partnership with them.
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When we began working on ChooseSocial.PH, we wanted to highlight the great work and community impact of social enterprises in the Philippines. But really, which organizations inspired us to embark on this journey? And why Philippines? Gelaine and I are located in Toronto and Gelaine, who was born in the Philippines, hasn’t always felt like an insider in the Filipino community. For myself, I’m not even Filipino. I was born and raised in Québec speaking French as my first language, and then moved to Toronto five years ago. What was so special about social enterprises in the Philippines that appealed to us so much?

Gelaine and I met as volunteers for the non-profit student organization called AIESEC. While volunteering, we both discovered the alluring and ambitious world of social enterprises – the idea that businesses and business skills could be forces for social good. We always knew our passions lay with social enterprises, but how this applied to the Philippines didn’t occur to us. That is, until we discovered the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, an incubator of social enterprises and a Filipino success that inspires many across the world. This immediately caught our eye and thus began our budding passion for Filipino social enterprises.

The Enchanted Farm was created by Gawad Kalinga, a Filipino non-profit with the mission of ending poverty for 5 million Filipino families by 2024. The Enchanted Farm itself was founded as a center of innovation in order to foster a new generation of innovative social enterprises in the Philippines. The goal is an ambitious one – to create new FILIPINO BRANDS that will manufacture FILIPINO PRODUCTS for the FILIPINO MARKET. Which is needed in a country where a lot of products, including food products (chocolate, dairy & coffee) that could be farmed locally, are imported.

Because the Enchanted Farm itself is on farmland, many of those products are food products. And because they are all social enterprises, they facilitate local capacity building by providing employment, job training and education to beneficiaries of Gawad Kalinga (typically low-income) communities, while also reinvesting their profits into social programs to help alleviate poverty. By hosting more than 20 social enterprises under the same roof, this hub of social entrepreneurship fosters collaboration, networking, and knowledge sharing amongst the social enterprises, while providing a unique marketplace (Enchanted Farm Cafe) to showcase their work. The innovation coming out of this high concentration of social enterprises has led many to call the Enchanted Farm the “Silicon Valey of social enterprises”.

The Enchanted Farm - Photo Credit to Destination Changemakers
The Enchanted Farm – Photo Credit to Destination Changemakers

Since I am myself an IT Professional with experience consulting for various companies big and small, I love learning about new startups and the development of new technologies, I can also witness and understand how new companies can benefit from an environment of collaboration and growth similar to the Silicon Valley. At the Enchanted Farm, entrepreneurs can constantly network and share their learnings and expertise. Because of this unique and inspiring environment, the Enchanted Farm attracts people from all walks of life – whether they want to found a social enterprise, volunteer, or are working professionals who wish to pivot from a career in corporate to the social enterprise or social impact world.

For example, Xilca Alvarez left her work as a lawyer to work at the Enchanted Farm and eventually to join Bayani Brew, a social enterprise that creates drinks from local & indigenous ingredients cultivated at the Enchanted Farm. Because of the Farm’s reputation as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, it now attracts lots of funding opportunities from other organizations that can help to scale those social enterprises. For me, that was a personal realization. The Enchanted Farm taught me that the Silicon Valley model of IT innovation could be applied to the world of social good and impact, and how my two passions for technology and social enterprises could intersect. I decided then that I wanted to share this unique Filipino social enterprise scene with the world.

Xilca Alvarez, Ron Dizon, and Shanon Khadka from Bayani Brew - Photo Credit to Destination Changemakers
Xilca Alvarez, Ron Dizon, and Shanon Khadka from Bayani Brew – Photo Credit to Destination Changemakers

We often hear through NextDayBetter of the successes and accomplishments of Filipino diaspora communities across the world. These successes not only inspire the Filipino diaspora but everyone in the community, both Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. The Enchanted Farm also attracts this kind of attention. The difference is, however, they are located in the Philippines and people actually travel large distances to learn from this unique place. For example, many European students volunteer at the Farm for months at a time and many business visitors come to learn from the farm’s operation for a few days. This is how people at the Enchanted Farm have begun to refer to themselves as the “’Disneyland’ for social tourism”.

While many people come to learn, Fabien Courteille from France, decided to stay after volunteering and launched his own social enterprise at the Farm. The social enterprise is called Plush and Play, and sells children’s toys. Regardless of their origin, the farm shows that people from across the world can come in, take part and be integrated into the community, and work alongside Filipinos to help resolve one of the Philippine’s major social problems: poverty. For a non-Filipino like me, I often see the pitfalls of foreigners going to another country to bring their own solutions to what they consider are the most important problem. What I love about the Enchanted Farm is that it’s a concept entirely created for the Philippines, by Filipinos and adapted to the local Filipino needs and realities, while they still are welcoming help from everyone. Knowing that different cultures can come together to innovate and work towards a single social goal in the Philippines, knowing that I could be one of those persons without feeling out of place, what else could be more inspiring?

Our mission at ChooseSocial.PH is to bring social enterprises into the mainstream and the Enchanted Farm is great at helping us with this goal. For anyone visiting the Philippines and staying around Manila, the Enchanted Farm is a must-see. Located in Angat, Bulacan, it is a few hours drive from Manila. Not only is it possible to visit it, but they actually have various visitor packages to help you learn about the social enterprises and offer accommodations. Gelaine and I still haven’t had the chance to visit the Enchanted Farm or any of the social enterprises we feature on ChooseSocial.PH. However, this is something we want to remedy as we plan to travel to the Philippines in December this year. In case we needed any more signs of the importance of social enterprises into our lives, we even realized that Gelaine’s birthplace in Bulacan is less than one hour out from the Enchanted Farm. Really, there’s no good reason for us to miss this amazing place!

Perhaps this won’t be possible for you to visit and learn from the Enchanted Farm in the immediate future. So, what can you do? Learn and apply the principles of collaboration and innovation from the Enchanted Farm and see if there is another group in your city you can join which may help you build the next big thing!

Not sure where to start? Look at your local NextDayBetter chapter!

What We’ve Learned From Researching Over 80 Social Enterprises in the Philippines

Jérôme and I often get emails from our awesome community of social enterprise supporters with questions like, “How do I launch a social enterprise?” or “Can you help me find an idea?” While we love connecting with aspiring social entrepreneurs, we’ll be up front: Jérôme and I are not the best people to offer this type of advice. We still have a lot to learn when it comes to understanding the social enterprise scene and Filipino business community, as well as our own struggles when it comes to revenue generation (note: we have none), marketing, and measurable impact.

With that said, researching over 80 social enterprises in the Philippines (plus dozens in North America) has taught us a thing or two about social entrepreneurship and some of the most common mistakes that social entrepreneurs can make. Here are a few of the big ones:

A photo of Jérôme working hard at the library to research new social enterprises for our directory.
A photo of Jérôme working hard at the library to research new social enterprises for our directory.

Mistake #1: Not running it like a business. This sounds like a “duh” statement, but it’s important. The most successful social enterprises in the Philippines are run by people who have experience working in successful for-profit businesses (think HapinoyKalibrr, and Banago). I’m definitely not saying you need to work for a corporation to be a successful social entrepreneur, but you absolutely need to be business-savvy and this means making necessary long-term investments in your infrastructure. Invest in your marketing, human resources, technology, and processes the same way that successful for-profit businesses do. I cannot tell you the number of social enterprises we come across which have an awesome social purpose and business idea, but they fail at the last mile when it comes to execution. Their website may be down or completely outdated and unattractive, they’re unresponsive to emails (even when we’re contacting them to purchase a product), or sometimes they don’t have a website at all or a way to order products.

Non-profits often struggle because they’re forced to invest all of their money into the cause. In the impact sector, it’s unsexy or even taboo to invest a lot in marketing, salaries, and IT – yet the ones that are willing to invest in these “unsexy” things are typically the ones that succeed. Social enterprises are businesses and should be investing as such. Plus, there are so many free and open source tools these days that it’s possible to create and maintain a functional website for very little cost (check out Jérôme’s post on what we use at ChooseSocial.PH).

Mistake #2: Not telling your social impact story. Some organizations don’t mention anything at all about their social purpose or the fact they’re a social enterprise. On numerous occasions, people recommend organizations to us for our directory, but upon going to their websites and social media, we’re left scratching our heads and trying to understand whether they’re a social enterprise at all. The Guardian asked consumers why they buy from social enterprises, and the majority of people said things like, “with my purchase (…) I gain a satisfied happiness to be part of something good” and even:

“If you are going to buy something anyway, why not buy from an organisation that are giving back to society?”

So, tell your story! Be compelling and tell people about the causes and communities you support. Make it clear you’re a social enterprise. It will boost your sales, build support for your cause, and help foster brand loyalty.

Mistake #3: Focusing too much on your social impact story and not enough on your product. In hand with point two above – telling your impact story is important, but so is your product. While some organizations barely mention their social impact, others will talk about it for pages and pages and yet fail when it finally comes to the product. Invest in your marketing and your products!!! No one wants to buy from your organization if your product photos are blurry or low quality, or if your products themselves are out of style or poorly made.

This is where marketing and sales come into play – use high quality product photos, stay on top of trends, make it easy for customers to pay and order online, and make sure your website is attractive and modern. Your customers should love the whole experience of buying from you – it shouldn’t be just a one-time, feel-good moment brought on by charity.

So tell your social impact story, but let the products speak for themselves. 

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The Paper Project sells handcrafted cards made by women who have escaped prostitution and oppression. Their social purpose is directly linked to their product.

Mistake #4: Having an overly complicated business model. After spending hours painstakingly researching organizations, we’ve noticed the most compelling and marketable social enterprises are those whose businesses and social purpose can be summarized in one sentence.

For example: Olivia & Diego helps the planet by creating unique and handcrafted jewelry items from up-cycled materials, or The Paper Project sells handcrafted cards made by women escaping prostitution and oppression.  Business models like these are awesome and simple to explain. They, and other marketable social enterprises like them, have embedded their social cause directly into their products and services, which is exactly what makes them so appealing.

If you’re launching a social enterprise, keep your product/service closely linked to your social purpose. Your customers won’t spend four hours researching articles about you, poring through your website, or rigorously reading all your social media updates. If they don’t understand what you do and why they should buy from you within the first 2 minutes (or less), you’ll have trouble staying afloat and making the social impact you dream of.

So, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Share your comments with us via Facebook!

Taking to the Stage: Sharing ChooseSocial.PH at NextDayBetter + TO

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Jérome and I take to the stage at NextDayBetter + TO. Photo by: Bo Fajardo | NextDayBetter Toronto

Last week, Jérôme and I were invited to speak at the NextDayBetter + TO event. For those of you who don’t know, NextDayBetter (or NDB for short) is a global food and speaker series which aims to empower diaspora communities through storytelling and culture (they’re awesome! Check ’em out). We had attended the same event last year, which you could say was the start of us being introduced to the Filipino community in Toronto.

When we were first approached by the NDB+TO team to speak, Jérôme and my first reactions were along the lines of, “There really must be some mistake. I think you want someone more legit.” This isn’t about humility. This was us not being able to comprehend how our story  could be interesting or relevant or on par with the likes of Caroline Mangosing and Filipino comic book artist Francis Manapul who spoke last year. I mean, come on, Francis has his own Wikipedia page (!!!). In contrast, Jérôme and I are just two random people who started a website out of our own apartment. We work full-time in the corporate world, make dinner at home like everyone else, and then continue working into the night on our laptops. How could that be guest speaker worthy? 

In my previous blog post for NextDayBetter, I talk about what it’s like to run a website on Filipino social entrepreneurship despite being something of a Filipino “outsider” myself. Despite this already being out in the open, part of me felt embarrassed and afraid to be so vulnerable on a stage in front of over 150 people.

Photo by: Bo Fajardo | NextDayBetter Toronto
A member of the audience snaps a pic during our talk.  Photo by: Bo Fajardo | NextDayBetter Toronto

But that’s what we did. We went on stage. We spoke about how surprised we were to be invited to speak. How we felt out of place because we weren’t “typical Filipinos” (Jérôme, after all, isn’t even Filipino). I spoke about how, despite me losing touch with my roots at such a young age, that didn’t stop me from feeling proud to be Filipina, that I was here to re-connect and share the story of ChooseSocial.PH, share the story of social entrepreneurs in the Philippines, and ultimately, share our story of me and Jérôme.

After our talk, several people came up to us afterward. They told us how they loved our presentation and how it resonated with them. And then they started telling us their stories. One woman told us about her research on Filipino food history and how she’s always dreamed of sharing the story of the Philippines through food. Someone else told us about her involvement with Gawad Kalinga and how she is passionate about expanding their efforts in Canada.

That’s when I had a realization. The beauty of platforms such as NextDayBetter isn’t that they find the best and brightest people to speak and share their story. It’s that they allow anyone to be a storyteller, to be an expert, to be a change maker. By sharing our modest and perhaps even ordinary story of ChooseSocial.PH, we unconsciously allowed others around us to feel liberated and empowered to reciprocate and share their own. The people are the stories. NextDayBetter is just the platform.

As I reflect on that night, I think about the people we met. I think of the genetics researcher who is learning about Filipino genes and how looking at them through a microscope can tell you our history of colonization, diversification, and deviation from our indigenous roots. Or the young Filipino who works at CAMH and is committed to sharing stories of people suffering from mental health and the importance of bringing those stories to light. Or about the many Filipinos I met who have come looking to re-connect and re-discover their Filipino roots.

All of those stories are worthy and deserve to be shared on stage. What’s funny though is that when I suggested they should be up on the stage, the thought had never previously occurred to them. Expressions of “Really? Oh, I don’t know about that…” or “Huh. Maybe I should…”

What I learned more than anything that night is the beauty and power of storytelling. And more importantly, of vulnerability. By being open and about our fears and hopes and dreams, we unconsciously allow others to do the same.

In a sense, our stories are all the same, and yet so distinctly unique. That’s the beauty of it.

Food, start-ups, and social enterprise: The story of a Filipino outsider

This blog post was originally published on NextDayBetter’s blog by our co-founder Gelaine as part of our content partnership with them. 

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I’m not your definition of a Filipina role model. I understand but don’t speak Tagalog. I was born in Philippines but couldn’t tell you much about life in the country. I grew up eating ‘adobo,” palabok,’ and ‘pancit,’ but only recently learned the difference between ‘lechon’ and ‘lechon kawali.’ I’ve lived most of my life in Canada where I was raised to believe that Philippine-made meant cheap, and “opportunity” was always paired with “abroad”.

So, it must be a surprise that here I am – co-founder of ChooseSocial.PH, an organization that aims to connect and educate people about social enterprises in the Philippines and the work of Filipino social entrepreneurs. It’s a surprise but an honour to be part of an organization that proudly showcases the work, impact, and innovations of Filipinos and what they are doing to make their communities even better.

For the many of you who don’t know, a social enterprise is a business that primarily exists in order to address a social or environmental cause. You might have immediately thought about Toms Shoes or even Ten Thousand Villages, some of the better-known social enterprises. But what about Kalibrr (named one of five filipino tech startups to watch in the Wall Street Journal)? Hapinoy (a social enterprise modernizing the traditional sari-sari store model to help female entrepreneurs)? Or The Enchanted Farm Café (a café in Quezon City selling gourmet and artisan foods made from 100% Philippine ingredients and sourced from local farms)? These are exactly the stories that we want to tell.

The concept for ChooseSocial.PH slowly began to form after Jérôme and I travelled to Philippines in December 2013. This was my first time back since moving to Canada when I was three years old. During our short two-week trip, Jérôme and I both fell in love with the country. I loved the warm heat on my skin even when it was pitch black outside and the heaviness that was always present in the air. I loved the open hospitality of strangers on the street who would invite Jérôme over for a beer, and seeing my father so proud to show us the home where we grew up in Bulacan. Despite all the things to love, however, you would have to be completely daft to be oblivious to the extreme poverty, inequality, and complex social and environmental issues prevalent within the country.

When we returned to Toronto, we heard of an event through Kapisanan, a Toronto-based Filipino arts and culture organization where Jérôme had been taking Tagalog classes back in 2013. The event was marketed with the intriguing headline “Batman, Foodies, Fashion + CrisisMaps” and we decided to attend. This was our introduction to the world of NextDayBetter and it was my first time being surrounded by so many people like me – second generation Filipinos who grew up in Canada. They were hugely idealistic, and I discovered a community of people who not only looked like me, but also shared my ambitions to create positive and impactful change in the world.

At the first NextDayBetter event in Toronto, I discovered a community of ambitious Filipino youth (and also plenty of delicious Filipino food).
At the first NextDayBetter event in Toronto, I discovered a community of ambitious Filipino youth (and also plenty of delicious Filipino food).

At the first NextDayBetter event in Toronto, I discovered a community of ambitious Filipino youth (and also plenty of delicious Filipino food).
At the first NextDayBetter event in Toronto, I discovered a community of ambitious Filipino youth (and also plenty of delicious Filipino food).

We were inspired. Jérôme, with his insatiable appetite for knowledge, intensively began to research the Philippines. He occupied himself with learning about the tech and startup scene, social issues, and economy. He came across Gawad Kalinga, an extremely impressive Filipino organization founded by Tony Meloto committed to eradicating poverty in the Philippines. One of the key ways they aim to do this is through their Enchanted Farm, an incubator for Filipino social enterprises. From there, we were introduced to organizations such as GoldenducK, Gourmet Keso, Human Heart Nature, Rags2Riches, and engageSPARK. The range in size, mission, and product offerings was astounding, and the creativity with which many of these organizations tackle the country’s most complex social issues completely floored and humbled us.

Something we noticed early in our research was though many social enterprises were doing amazing work, learning about it was a huge challenge. Many of these organizations didn’t have websites or were impossible to find, and when we did find them, the messages were so convoluted that it was next to impossible to understand what they did. That’s where the idea for ChooseSocial.PH was truly born. We essentially created what we wanted for ourselves – a go-to resource to learn about social enterprises in the Philippines that was visually appealing, up to date, and in touch with the younger generation of Filipinos.

We officially launched our website in November 2014 and have 73 organizations in our directory to date, with over 150 organizations waiting to be researched and added. We continue to make improvements to our site, and are focused on strengthening our relationships with social entrepreneurs and partner organizations. When I think of it, the two of us are a funny group – me, a Filipina still learning Tagalog; and Jérôme, a Québecois living in Toronto who learned English as a second language and knows more about the Philippines than I do. We are both members of our respective diaspora communities in our unique ways.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts. I doubt whether the two of us are really knowledgeable or qualified to be involved in this type of work. I get anxious when I think about the future and what ChooseSocial.PH will become, if it will become anything. I get frustrated when my friends and own family don’t understand or show interest in what we’re doing. I wonder, more often than not, if I know what I’m doing and if those entrepreneurs we spend so much time researching and learning about ever wonder the same things.

Despite the doubts, I draw my inspiration from stories. Stories of the people on our website, and of the Filipinos I heard speak the first time I attended an event with NextDayBetter. I am moved by experiences of Filipinos who choose to stay in the Philippines rather than go abroad because they want to fight for their communities, and stories of Filipinos who left and returned because they believed they could make it better. I am driven by stories of people like my partner Jérôme and my sister who works with Filipino youth, like the amazing team of NextDayBetter, like the people who email us on a weekly basis wanting to learn more about social enterprises and how they can contribute – people who may be far from where they came from but wear their Filipino-ness close to their hearts. I strive for the day we can finally shed off the description of Filipinos as “resilient people” and replace it instead with words like; “innovative”, “empathetic”, “passionate”, “intelligent”, and “entrepreneurial “.

These are the things that drive me and put my doubts to rest, and though I am still discovering what it means to be Filipina, I know I am not alone and there are people like me and different from me who are trying to achieve the same goals. I am so humbled and excited to be able to continue to share the stories of such amazing organizations and people with you.

Gelaine Santiago: Gelaine, a Filipino-Canadian, is co-founder of ChooseSocial.PH – the go-to resource to learn about the social enterprise scene in the Philippines. She works as an HR professional in Toronto during the day and loves to talk about all things social enterprises, women’s and minority rights, entrepreneurship, tech, start-ups, and food (of course).

ChooseSocial.PH is growing our team!

Passionate about all things Social Media and Social Enterprise?
Then join our team as Social Media Coordinator.

ChooseSocial.PH is bringing social enterprises into the mainstream. We’re a crowdsourced directory of social enterprises in the Philippines and aim to be the platform for people to “choose social” for their everyday lifestyle needs. Our website features organizations large and small, but aims to provide visibility to small and grassroots organizations with little/no online presence. Currently, our Toronto-based team is made up of two people (meet us here) and you will be the third addition to our small but ambitious team.

So… what does the Social Media Coordinator do?

You will play a critical role in helping us to develop and grow our online presence. You will manage our social media channels, create and curate content, respond to community members, and identify opportunities for engagement and outreach within our relevant communities. You’ll also help us identify new community management tools, develop and execute strategic content and marketing plans, and lead/participate in other initiatives/projects as requested.

This is an ideal role for you if you’re craving hands-on and skills-based volunteer experience in social media marketing within the non-profit field.

What else will you be doing?

  • Community management: Monitoring our various social media channels, responding to inquiries or comments, and identifying opportunities to engage with our community members to foster mutually beneficial relationships
  • Content curation and creation: Curating content relevant to our community members, planning and writing content for our online channels including but not limited to: Facebook, Twitter, blog, Pinterest
  • Analysis & Reporting: Monitor and measure the level of community engagement and report on the effectiveness of our initiatives
  • Outreach & PR: Connect with organizations or individuals to increase our online presence and foster new relationships with relevant stakeholders online and offline
  • Strategic planning: Working with the team to develop strategic marketing/communications plans and guidelines
  • Your own projects & initiatives: We know you want more, so come ready to discuss your own ideas and we’ll help you bring them to life.

Are you a fit? You are if…

  • You’re passionate about social enterprises and social impact business models
  • Your written communication skills are better than ours
  • You want to build something from the ground up
  • You’re craving the start up experience and the diverse responsibilities that come with it
  • You love working with people … virtually, with minimal instruction or guidance
  • You have previous experience in social media marketing and community management, preferably within a social enterprise, non-profit or start-up
  • Working independently in a virtual environment doesn’t phase you, not one bit
  • You understand why customer service is an important skill to have for this role
  • You have some familiarity with Filipino culture and start up scene (a very strong asset)

You’re not a fit if …

  • You need a lot of structure
  • You need to be around people a lot
  • You don’t have any experience at all in social media marketing or community management (not even your own)
  • You have no idea what a social enterprise is

Other things you might want to know:

  • Hours and time commitment are flexible, though estimate an average of 5 hours per week and occasionally more
  • This is a 4 month volunteer opportunity up front (with regular check-ins and possibility to extend beyond)
  • Location is flexible, though Toronto preferred (we want to see you every once in a while!)

Ready to give it a try? Send us your resume along with links to your online social profiles to info@choosesocial.ph

PS – If there are other ways that you would like to be involved, feel free to give us a shout. We want your experience to be as valuable for you as it is for us 🙂

More About Us – AIESEC Alumni Change Agent Campaign

Below is an excerpt of our submission to be part of the AIESEC Alumni Change Agent Campaign organized by AIESEC Alumni International. Selected participants will have the opportunity to present their organizations in the upcoming AIESEC Alumni International Conference 2015 in Portugal and have their profiles featured in upcoming editions of the monthly global newsletter. 

Are you an AIESEC alum who runs an NGO, non-profit, social enterprise or company whose mission is to create positive social impact? Complete the application here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/changeagentcampaign 

Please describe your organization’s mission, programs, products or services, where it operates, which communities are impacted and the positive impact it aims to achieve.

Our mission? To bring social enterprises into the mainstream!

ChooseSocial.PH is a crowdsourced social directory which aims to be the most comprehensive and up-to-date resource for anyone looking to learn more about social enterprises in the Philippines. We want to be the platform for consumers to be able to “choose social” for their everyday lifestyle needs. Through our website, people can submit new social enterprises to be added to our directory or request updates. They can learn about existing social businesses near them, what their impact is, the communities/causes they support, and the types of products and services they provide. Eventually, people will be able to share their stories and experiences with us as social entrepreneurs, customers, or beneficiaries of these social business programs and services.

Directly, we impact social businesses across the Philippines, particularly grassroots and small businesses with little/no online or marketing presence. We provide them with the ability to promote their products and services to a wider audience that was previously inaccessible beyond word of mouth. Indirectly, we benefit the communities that these social businesses partner with or employ. By promoting their products and services, we aim to increase their revenue, which means more investment into the programs and communities they support.

Origins: When and how did the organization begin? How was it funded? How many of the original team were AIESEC alumni, and is it currently led by an alumnus?

ChooseSocial.PH was founded and officially launched in December 2014 by two AIESEC alumni from AIESEC Canada. Being immersed in AIESEC for four years exposed us both to the widespread potential and ever growing impact of social enterprises, and instilled in us both a passion for entrepreneurship. Gelaine Santiago, one of the co-founders, is of Filipino heritage and both of us travelled to Philippines. While there, we completely fell in love with the country and discovered the work of social enterprises large and small such as Gawad Kalinga, Hapinoy, Route63, and FlipTripPH – organizations with huge potential but often with little reach beyond the direct social enterprise community and many who have almost no online presence or marketing.

With both of our backgrounds in tech, talent management, and communications, we decided to create ChooseSocial.PH – a fun and interactive way for the everyday consumer to discover and connect with social enterprises in the Philippines. It is currently led by two AIESEC alumni and our growing number of supporters often share an AIESEC connection.

Current state and impact: How many people work or volunteer for the organization? How do you measure your impact? According to those measures, what is the impact you have had so far?

We are new as an organization and have only two volunteers, which include the co-founders. Our current website’s purpose is educational and informational – we want to raise awareness of social enterprises, their impact, and their products and services and present these to the everyday consumer in an accessible and engaging format. We also want crowdsourced content – shared stories, new organizations, etc. Due to the nature of our website, our impact is primarily based upon marketing & PR efforts measured by:

1) Website analytics: Visits, pages visited, duration and bounce rate (how are people engaging with our content? Are they visiting our website and learning about organizations?)

2) Content & Promotions Partners: Number of partnerships established with likeminded organizations to promote our website

3) Submissions: Number of submissions for new social enterprises and/or updates to social enterprises (crowdsourced directory component)

Based on these measures, our impact is steadily growing and the response has been hugely positive. Though we launched only in December 2014, we have already increased website visits by 20% month by month, connected with over 10 organizations for potential partnerships of which at least two are viable and include organizations both in Philippines and Canada, and have received 5 submissions for social enterprises to be added or updated made by website visitors.

Vision & Future Impact: What is your organization’s vision, and how did it come about? Has your AIESEC experience helped you in starting up the organisation, and if yes, how? Does your organizational culture involve AIESEC values?  Please explain.

Our vision is a world where social enterprise is not just one option of many, but where “choosing social” is THE best and most viable option. Whether you are looking for an organization to start, support, or shop at – we want social enterprise to be THE number one choice.

AIESEC was the start of the journey that brought us here. Our AIESEC experience opened us up to the world of social enterprises, it broke down the daunting barriers of what it means to be an “entrepreneur”, and it instilled in us the conviction that we could affect positive change in our global community. AIESEC is about exploring and developing your leadership potential in order to make a positive impact in society. In AIESEC and beyond, we challenge ourselves everyday to push the bounds of our “known” potential. Our organizational culture, like AIESEC’s, is about experimentation, in trying and learning, and achieving more than what is expected of us. Social enterprises are growing, they have huge potential for huge impact, and we want to help them to develop and live their great potential – similar to how AIESEC helped us to live ours, for every true AIESECer out there.

What opportunities are there to become involved? 

Volunteering: We are looking for volunteers who can assist us with researching new social enterprises to add to our directory, developing content for us, and assisting us with marketing and promotions.

Program Partnerships: Know of a likeminded organization focused on connecting social enterprises, selling social enterprise products or services, nonprofit consulting, or increasing awareness of social enterprises in the Philippines? Let us know. We are also looking for content and media partners.

Marketing & PR: Our ability to raise awareness of social enterprises and their services means that marketing & PR are hugely important to our impact. Simply sharing our website or organizations you care about with your friends, family, social networks, etc. is actually very important for us.