Rejuvenated and Inspired... Thanks to LSE Dubai

All photos by Gus Erni and Aris "Eyecatcher"
Before I moved here in the UAE, I was actively involved in a dynamic volunteer youth organization, Voice of the Youth Network, that encourages the Filipino youth to believe in themselves in creating and promoting positive social changes and in making a difference in the country. (See this video) Little did I know that the advocacy we were doing can actually lead into social entrepreneurship.

All photos by Gus Erni and Aris "Eyecatcher"
Over the last 6 months, I've spent 9 Fridays schooling in the 1st Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) program by Ateneo School of Government (plus another 3 days on online sessions).  LSE is a certificate course with 3 modules: Leadership, Financial Literacy and Social Entrepreneurship.  It is dedicated to Filipinos overseas to help develop leadership skills and financial management towards more sustainable economic development opportunities for ourselves and the community.

The program brings topnotch guest speakers, lecturers and motivators from Ateneo de Manila University and other LSE programs in other countries like Italy, Hong Kong and Belgium. They help us be molded into well-rounded individuals and groups. They inspire us to create effective social enterprise business plans that aim to address various problems particularly those affecting the marginalized sectors in the community here and in the Philippines.  Unlike the usual business ventures, social enterprises also measure success by achieving desired positive social changes.  The training gives us fresh ideas about leadership and how to equip ourselves with the right attitude towards becoming entrepreneurs. The program is very fitting here in Dubai as I don't see a lot of Filipinos running a business. It's a sad reality that most of us only consider employment as the road after graduating in college. Our culture has raised us with the common goal to graduate to find the best possible job, not to create the best possible business.  This has to change, and LSE is the right venue to initiate the change.  LSE has also taught us very valuable lessons about financial literacy, gave us better understanding on managing our finances and avoiding or overcoming roadblocks ahead.

All photos by Gus Erni and Aris "Eyecatcher"
All photos by Gus Erni and Aris "Eyecatcher"
At the end of the program, the class of 45 has submitted significant proposals that address various social issues like environment and recycling, sanitation, education, fish farming and agriculture, personal care and more.
All photos by Gus Erni and Aris "Eyecatcher"
We are inspired as we discovered how some pioneer Filipino social entrepreneurs were able to build their businesses while reaching out to the community at the same time. It has opened a golden door for me to network with like-minded people. This program has encouraged this first batch to spearhead a Filipino social enterprise revolution here in Dubai and soon back home. LSE is a realization that we can do business while responding to various identified needs of the society - and this brings greater fulfilment to me.

Thanks to the working committee behind LSE lead by Milen Aviles and Jasper Adviento, and to the whole team. You are superb! You have given more than what we all were expecting. You have changed the lives of the 45.

And to each and everyone in the batch, I've learned a lot from you. The friendship is a really special bonus.

LSE is fun, so watch out for the next one.  Did I say we have good food too? Thanks to Barrio Fiesta.

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