Thoughts on service learning from home, while helping a non-profit start a social enterprise.
As part of our MBA course, one of the projects that we were asked to participate in was about service learning for a partner community. In our case, we sought and partnered with Buklod Tao Katatagan Inc. as a non-profit that we will assist.
With the COVID-19 pandemic gluing us to our seats and our homes, it has become an interesting time to create and come up with a program to aid our partner community. We were all accustomed to helping out in person and having a feel for the partner community and how we can engage and operationalize a solution. In this case, we found that even with the physical limitations of aiding Buklod Tao Katatagan’s objectives, we were able to pull through and respond to their needs.
Allow me, dear reader, to provide a summary of what has transpired.
Answering the Call
Buklod Tao Katatagan was able to come up with projects in the past to help out the community in San Mateo, Rizal, where the non-profit is currently based. There are a lot of issues living in the said community, including access to livelihood and disaster relief.
Among the many projects that they are currently working on, the group decided to assist in the Citronella Oil Extraction project, which is currently at its infancy. The project aims to deliver the goals as stated below:
Opening the Barrier
The key issue that the project lacks are the equipment and the resources that it needs to get it going. The group decided that the best way to bridge the gap is through fundraising, which was done with the assistance of the Center for Social Concern and Action of the De La Salle University — Manila. The group came up with the necessary collaterals for fundraising and was able to help raising the money and the awareness needed to address a social issue.
In the end, the group was able to exceed the target goal of Php 20,000 to Php 25,700, which helped in increasing the budget for the procurement and training of the community members in San Mateo, Rizal. This showed that while it may seem challenging at first, things are possible when done collectively.
An Expert Weighs in and Final Thoughts
The group also sought the help of Mr. Russell Lorenzo, an expert on the essential oils field, who was able to give sage advice on the cultivation and yield of Citronella Oil production.
Based on his assessment, it would take 2,000 individual plants (2 tons) to create a scalable yield of 1 liter of citronella oil. While this might seem discouraging to hear, having a starting point on creating a process of cultivating citronella and having the land to maintain it is a good way to get Buklod Tao Katatagan Inc. to strengthen and streamline the projects that they are working on as of this time.
There are a lot of things that we can learn from helping others. In some ways, this exercise is just a start to a lifelong commitment of being a socially conscious and responsible business leader. I believe that projects like these should be kindling to a greater fire of kindness from everyone.
In many ways than one, we can always find a way to make things better for everyone else, whether doing it within the community or from a distance.