The case, set in mid-2017, traces the evolution of a gender-responsive regional level multi-stakeholder platform called GREAT Women ASEAN, dedicated to the economic empowerment of women micro-producers. In 2008, Jeannie Javelosa (Jeannie) and her friends Regina Francisco and Pacita Juan, had set up ECHOstore under a private entity called Earth Life Store Supply Inc. ECHOstore retailed organic products to upmarket consumers of Manila, Philippines. Identifying the potential to improve the marketability and earnings of the micro-producers, the trio founded ECHOsi, a non-profit foundation in 2009.
ECHOsi helped micro-producers improve their products as well as their market base by providing market-linking and business support services through its network of business owners and intermediaries. The Philippines Commission on Women (PCW) roped in ECHOsi as the private sector partner to implement the projects of GREAT Women Programme (GWP), a Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) programme funded by the Canadian government. The efforts resulted in a seamless ecosystem of government agencies, private enterprises and non-profits collaborating to create an inclusive economy for micro-entrepreneurs. As the GREAT Women brand garnered commercial traction, its ownership was transferred to ECHOsi, which entrusted its commercialisation to Earth Life Store Supply Inc.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) eventually identified the GWP as an ideal WEE model to be replicated in the ASEAN region. It enlisted the help of ECHOsi to integrate women micro-entrepreneurs into the regional value chain. Jeannie was in the process of creating a collaborative network of business owners, intermediaries, facilitators, donors and government agencies to sell the products of beneficiaries under the GREAT Women brand. As the impact model scaled, Jeannie had to prepare for the risks involved in franchising the social enterprise and also find the means of funding the expansion.
After studying the case, students will understand how to overcome the challenges of micro-entrepreneurs, particularly women micro-entrepreneurs in the ASEAN region. They will learn about the key characteristics and objectives of social enterprise along the social and commercial continuum. Students will also examine the funding options available and how to manage risks pertaining to social franchising.
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