Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Pearl Principle: Social Entrepreneurs

There were seven (7) problems of the country brought up and discussed in the Pearl Principle National Conference last September 28-29, 2004. These were the issues on poverty, unemployment/underemployment, peace and order, the deteriorating standards in education, corruption, over-population and our national “identity crisis.”

The participants presented possible solutions followed by the usual debates. Most of the proposed solutions were “top-to-bottom” strategies. We are not saying we do not need change at the top. We are in total agreement that we do- but we must be able to do more from where we are standing right now.

The Pearl Principle believes in a “bottom-to-top” approach. This will ensure a solid footing for any long-term change to be sustained. This begins with change from within and within one’s sphere of influence.

However, what kind of people can take on the Herculean task of solving such problems in their level within their spheres of influence--- without political power and/or unlimited resources? We will need people with “inexhaustible determination” to persist and endure the long and difficult journey of such transformation.

A Savvy with Social Mission

Our answer: We need SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS who are Generative Leaders possessing characteristics of P.E.A.R.L.S. (Passionate, Ethical, Action-oriented, Results-focused, Leaders of Society).

They can lead, inspire, provide a vision, as well as engage people to create something of themselves, thereby, fundamentally changing communities. Social entrepreneurs are catalysts of change. Pearl Principle advocates are social entrepreneurs.

Bill Drayton defines the job of a social entrepreneur as someone who recognizes when a part of society is STRUCK and can solves the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution and persuading entire societies to take quantum leaps.

He said, “Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”

Social entrepreneurs, however, are just like other entrepreneurs. They also look for “irritants” in the environment and convert these into opportunities. They do this mainly as a social mission, with the savvy of “combining the very best of the not-for-profit, philanthropic world with the very best of the for-profit, enterprising world,” (Bill Strickland, “Genius at Work”). They pursue their goals with the same fervor and discipline as any true blue-blooded entrepreneur.

Pearl Schools

The Pearl Principle advocates, after a series of monthly meetings, have proposed to address one of the issues that cropped up in the conference. They decided to tackle the deteriorating standards in the public education system. Results of national achievement tests as well as international surveys were reviewed. The dismal performance of the Philippines in the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and its repeat test was a shocker, a reality check so hard to accept. In Science Grade 8, we placed 42nd among 45 countries; in Mathematics, we lodged one level higher at 41st. In Grade 4 Science and Math, we were consistently on the 23rd place out of the 25 participating countries. The equally discouraging results of the High School Readiness Test have left the Department of Education with no other choice but to put in place the controversial Bridging Programs.

The Pearl Principle Nation Movement shall initiate change by establishing the Pearl Schools. These schools will be strategically located nationwide where under-served middle class families live.

The Pearl Schools are conceptualized as a parallel school system to that of the Department of Education. The Pearl Schools will rise because of the people, for the people and shall be run by the people.

The Pearl Schools are assures of a customized curricula based on the situational analysis of the most current baseline skills of students and the immediate needs of the community to spur economic development in that particular area. These curricula will be designed by the sponsor education institution, CIE Global Colleges renowned as the School for Leaders and the only International Associate Partner of the University of Cambridge through its International Examinations Division. CIE, as sponsor agency will provide initial funding for the Pearl Schools.

CIE will share with the Pearl Schools applicable and relevant educational best practices from among private schools here and abroad. This will be an attempt to bridge the educational gap and learning opportunities between the public school system catering to the under-served middle class and exclusive private schools for the elite.

Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Each Pearl School will be given an Instructional Blueprint to follow. A system-wide Quality Assurance will be in place, led by the Pearl Principle advocates who are noted academics.

Let it be clear that the Pearl School System is to be established in support of all the efforts of the Department of Education to improve the quality of basic education. The Pearl Schools can help fast-track innovations because it does not have to contend with a bureaucracy. This is just like piloting new programs that would otherwise entail huge amounts of funding for research, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

As Social Entrepreneurs, the Pearl Principle advocates know very well that traditional forms of funding are becoming smaller. There is a widespread “donor-fatigue” syndrome growing worldwide especially because of global recession and economic crisis.

Business Plan Format:

A simple yet typical business plan includes the following:

Market need – significant of the problem/need this service wishes to address;
Product/Service – must have a unique value proposition;
Environment analysis – who are doing the same things?
Marketing plan – what is the target market? the strategies that will be used;
Financial requirements – sources and uses of capital; projected cash flow
Intellectual property strategy – what intellectual property exists and can it be protected?
Management team – who is involved and what is their experience?
Social Return on Investment (SROI) – describe social impact (preferably in qualitative and quantitative terms)

The Pearl Principle. Copyright Centre for International Education. All rights reserved.

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