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Building a Community of Social Entrepreneurs

COVID-19 has hit social enterprises to the core. But through an Australia-supported business mentorship program, these social enterprises remain strong.

“When the Enhanced Community Quarantine was implemented, we were forced to put a temporary halt in our operations. This meant no business for Cleaning Lady, and worse, no income for our Cleaning Lady partners. We have seen people lose their jobs left and right because of businesses closures, and we were really afraid of the same impending fate for Cleaning Lady.”

This is how Oskie King, Co-Founder of Cleaning Lady, described their anxiety when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the country.

Cleaning Lady is among the social enterprises who face challenges not only in keeping their business profitable, but also ensuring that they generate social impact amidst COVID-19. They, and other Filipino enterprises though, are receiving a helping hand through an Australia-supported business mentorship program called the Innovation for Social Impact Partnership (ISIP) project.

Through this project, Australia and its partners, the United Nations Development Programme and PhilDev Foundation, are providing social entrepreneurs with business strategy advice, upskilling and even access to angel investors to scale up.

The project has also provided opportunities for the social entrepreneurs to build a community that support and inspire each other amidst challenges. “I am happy with the community that we have built because of this program. Whether it’s pitching for funding or getting interns for our businesses, we have always found ways to help each other specially during this time of crisis” Czar Carbonel, Co-Founder of marine-safe sunscreen Magwai, shared.


The community of ISIP social entrepreneurs

Tom Graham of MAD Travel also recalled sharing insights and experiences with his fellow social entrepreneurs. As a social enterprise focused on travel and community-building, the pandemic hit them to the core. This forced Tom and his team to temporarily leave the travel industry and enter the education technology field – a move that was greatly supported by their fellow social entrepreneurs.

“Our community has allowed us to share ideas with each other, which was very useful to our businesses,” Tom shared. When I needed help in finance, my fellow entrepreneur Dan of PeoplePods, who had a solid background in finance, gave me great advice which had been very helpful. I’ve also shared ideas with Ryan of Virtualahan, a tech social enterprise for persons with disabilities, especially because he works in the virtual learning space where we’re moving into,” he added.


MAD Courses – an offshoot of MAD Travel – focuses on a multitude of topics, from innovation and social enterprise, to environmental sustainability. Their mission is to raise a new generation of global citizens, empowered to Make a Difference in their own lives and that of others.

For Oskie, Cleaning Lady would not have survived without the support of the Innovative Solutions Grant Facility provided by the ISIP project. The grant motivated and pushed them to innovate amidst the pandemic, allowing them to introduce disinfection and deep cleaning services to their clients, process payments through cashless transactions, and produce their own line of cleaning and disinfecting products. It sustained our partners’ income and allowed them to create more job opportunities for women.

Australia recognizes that supporting innovative social enterprises in the Philippines is a pathway to economic growth. In the spirit of bayanihan, we hope that social enterprises will be part of creating the “new normal” – one that will be inclusive for everyone and create a better nation for the next generation.

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