The Measuring Social Enterprise Research Exchange and Learning (MSE REAL) Phase 3 project had the original intent to promote social impact measurement using development indexing, benchmarking and social return on investment as tools among social enterprises in Southeast Asia.
With the declaration of the COVID-19 international health emergency, ISEA adjusted its deliverables under the MSE REAL Phase 3 Project to assist the social enterprise sector develop a response to the pandemic. ISEA held a webinar series and roundtable discussions leading up to a virtual regional conference that focused on the impact of COVID-19 on social enterprises (SE) and the poor in Asia, and the role of SEs as transformational partners of the poor in recovery and building back better to achieve the SDGs. A key outcome of the project was assisting the setting up of a platform that is engaged in the promotion of a set of Benchmarks for Transformational Partnerships and Women’s Economic Empowerment in Agricultural Value Chains (BTP-WEE in AVCs). A BTP WEE in AVCs Scorecard developed by ISEA as learning, evaluation and planning tool for social enterprises was translated and used to achieve project objectives.
Specific accomplishments of the MSE REAL Phase 3 Project include the following:
a) The BTP WEE in AVC Scorecards for Social Enterprise-led AVC Interventions and Social Enterprises/SMEs were translated into 4 languages: Bahasa, Thai, Vietnamese and Filipino. ISEA engaged a tool of 32 SEs/SMEs in Indonesia and Vietnam in pilot-testing the translated Scorecard for SEs/SMEs.
b) A COVID-19 Social Enterprise Response and Visioning Effort (SERVE) Webinar Series was initiated from May – August 2020. This enabled social enterprises to share, network and collaborate towards a responsive recovery strategy for the social enterprise sector amid COMID-19. This was followed by a series of roundtable discussions (RTDs) with key Conveners and Stakeholders that evolved Multi Stakeholder Platforms (MSP) towards Inclusive Recovery, Building Back Better and Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The COVID-19 SERVE Webinar Series and RTDs engaged 297 individuals in ASEAN and other Asian countries.
c) ISEA co-convened with UNESCAP a virtual 3rd Social Enterprise Advocacy and Leveraging (SEAL) Conference September 16-19, 2020. One of the highlights of the SEAL Conference was the launching of the Social Entrepreneurship Multistakeholder Platforms towards Inclusive Recovery, Building Back Better and Achieving the SDGs on the following themes: Women’s Empowerment, Livelihoods and Food in Agricultural Value Chains or WE LIVE FOOD in AVCs; Health for All; Decent Work for All in Sustainable Value Chains; Rural Revitalization, Youth and Social Entrepreneurship; and Technological Innovations for Sustainable Development. The WE LIVE FOOD in AVCs Platform promotes the BTP WEE in AVCs with the use of tools such as the scorecards translated by the project. The regional conference was attended by 168 individuals from 117 organizations in 17 countries.
d) A Webinar Series on Benchmarking and Social Return on Investment (SROI) was implemented on September 25, 28 and 30, 2020 with Vietnamese Social Enterprises and SMEs as participants. 36 social enterprise practitioners and support institutions from Vietnam were capacitated on measuring social enterprise impact and benchmarking.
ISEA believes that MSE REAL Phase 3 has achieved its project objectives despite the uncertainty and difficulties presented by the declaration of the COVID-19 health emergency/pandemic during the first quarter of 2020. ISEA succeeded in transforming its face to face activities into relevant online/webinar based conversations on the impact of COVID-19 to SEs and their partners and how they have responded to the present situation. This continuing conversation leading up to the regional conference resulted into an engaging and successful virtual regional conference hosted by ISEA and its partners on September 16-18, 2020. The launch of the 5 Multi Stakeholder Platforms has also enabled and promises to sustain a strong conversation, learning and collaboration initiative among these social enterprises, SMEs, support institutions, CSOs, multilateral organizations, and government to work together to help and provide support to SEs and their partner communities amidst the pandemic to recover better and build back fairer.
In the following months, ISEA will continue to engage the MSP Stakeholders/Organizing Committees to deliver on its set objectives and plans. Hopefully, through this, it will also gather resources and support from its partners an funders to continue the work of the platform as well as to pursue promotion of the BTP WEE in AVCs framework and tools with more SEs, SMEs, Corporate Agribusiness and even enshrine a set of Guidelines enabling and incentivizing the practice of the BTP WEE in AVCs in ASEAN.