Since Big Spoons had spread out across the four teams. I enthusiastically began getting to know my new group. My new Busog Iskolar team included two impressive student fellows, another student partner they pulled in, three female SME-owning community members, one faculty mentor, and myself.
We clicked interpersonally from the start and as we progressed through the gamified, task-based workshops, we bonded even more as a team, understanding one another and the valuable perspectives and expertise we all brought individually to the table.
Over the course of the three weeks, based on our experience and expertise, my fellow Big Spoons teammates and I took turns leading a plethora of workshops on business model design, minimum viable product, prototyping, testing, design thinking, social business logistics, branding, storytelling pitching, and project management among others.
As time went on, the social enterprise teams moved at different paces, evolved their products, and even changed names. For example, my Busog Iskolar team, dedicated to selling snacks to raise money for food vouchers to keep hungry kids in school, opted to rebrand as “Takamin”, a play on a Filipino word in multiple ways, that more clearly indicated we were selling traditional, healthy Filipino snacks.
Furthermore, having a multifunctional, multifaceted team attempting to reduce school dropouts and increase school retention in Manila made our creativity flow more easily. If one team member suggested a tactic or strategy implementation, other team members were there to provide input representing their stakeholder group and the consequences of that specific approach, thus at times leading to new ideas and solutions.
We weren’t constantly in workshops, seminars, and team brainstorming session as part of the bootcamp though. The LSEED team lead and his staff had also helped arrange a variety of relevant speakers for us throughout the journey. Our bootcamp family heard from social entrepreneurs Prim Paypon of The Dream Project PH, Lynn Pinugu of Mano Amiga, Erika Ng Wong of Karabella, and Bernadee Uy of Habi Footwear along with Gomer Padong of the Philippine Social Enterprise Network. Each speaker contributed invaluable words of wisdom for our young aspiring student entrepreneurs and shared fascinating insight into how they brought their dream to fruition.
Of course, in the midst of all that fun, all four social enterprises were humming along. My Takamin group distributed online surveys to gauge customer motivations and received additional feedback from customers who tried their Takamin snacks, prepared by one of our community mothers. The Katad group learned how to stitch and craft their own leather laptop cases. The Casalo mobile app/healthy eating group partnered with their first local chef. The Lumina solar providers group created a pilot program.
With the high failure rate among all entrepreneurial ventures, if just one group succeeds, I think we all win!
On top of these quick wins throughout the three weeks, the teams developed their business models through the social business model canvas, came up with rough financial figures, determined their branding strategies, outlined key stakeholder groups, cultivated their product offerings, and created plans of action. The next, not final, step would be presenting and pitching these social enterprises to successful social entrepreneurs and to De La Salle University bigwigs, such as the President, Dean of the Business School, and Chancellor in order to gain seed capital to fund their burgeoning enterprises.
Catering to their respective audiences, the teams prepared a different presentation for each session and blew everyone away with their preparation, innovation, creativity, thoughtfulness, and emotional intelligence. As one of the Big Spoons international mentors and consultants, it was beyond rewarding to see how far these teams had all come. In the end, each team received 30,000 Pesos in funding from the university.
As I write this, Takamin has completed an even more specific cost analysis and come up with an indicative budget. They’ll go through an accounting department orientation at the university in the coming weeks and further develop their enterprise timeline. I’m also proud to say that they created a brief to distribute to potential partners, such as Barako Haus, a small traditional Filipino coffeehouse chain that has already offered to collaborate with the team.
While I am not there to push them on in person, I am able to ask powerful questions and to help hold them accountable from afar. This will likely prove to be the most powerful aspect of my role within the team and I’m curious to see how it goes!