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I recently returned from a trip to the Philippines, where I was visiting the four winners of IIX’s Impact Accelerator program. Throughout the trip, I was constantly inspired by the passion of the social entrepreneurs and the sacrifices they endured in order to start their social venture. As I sat in a water pumping station in Orani Bataan, a town three hours outside of Manila, chatting with Stephen, the CEO of Hiraya Technology Solutions (a pioneering water enterprise that developed an advanced pressure management system to help water service providers adjust water pressure while reducing water waste), I started to become acutely aware of the enterprise’s key needs and the support it required to scale. This was an exciting challenge, but also a sobering one – it reminded me of the important role that Impact Accelerator plays in growing and scaling the impact of these innovative, early-stage enterprises.
Throughout the years, people have questioned whether accelerator programs actually work. The issue is not whether accelerators work; rather, it is about whether the accelerators are doing the job they are supposed to be doing. At IIX, we define an accelerator as a structured program that provides a suite of services (including mentorship, ongoing advisory, and access to networks) to accelerate the progression of early-stage enterprises. Thereafter, these enterprises can graduate and join the Impact Partners platform where they can raise capital for the growth that they have been prepped for.
IIX’s Impact Accelerator in the Philippines is an intensive acceleration program that is providing tailored mentorship, seed capital, and ongoing investment advisory services to four Philippines-based Social Enterprises over a period of six months. These enterprises are spread across the country and that is the beauty of the program where we are working with these entities in their own setting. Interestingly, the program benefits not only the Social Enterprises selected to participate, but also the local Social Enterprise ecosystem. First, the program builds the capacity of high-potential enterprises to scale their impact and progress towards investment readiness. The training we provide drives operational practicality within the enterprises, and enables a higher return on investment for potential impact investors. Second, Impact Accelerator develops the Social Enterprise ecosystem in the Philippines by engaging a wide range of actors (NGOs, corporations, government, existing incubators / accelerators, mentors, etc.) to provide access to local networks and support the selected enterprises. IIX believes that embedding Impact Accelerator into the local context enables the success, longevity and sustainability of the program – long after program graduation. Third, Impact Accelerator has been designed to provide technical assistance and funding opportunities at each stage of the Social Enterprise lifecycle. Selected enterprises may also have the opportunity to join our sister entity the Shujog’s Assistance for Capacity building and Technical Services (ACTS)-Program, where they will receive comprehensive technical assistance to help raise growth capital; and/or raise future rounds of funding on IIX’s Impact Partners one of the world’s largest private placement platforms for Impact Investing.
In addition to Hiraya Technology Solutions, the other technology-focused Social Enterprise in Impact Accelerator is Sidlakpinoy. Sidlakpinoy is an innovative housing and infrastructure enterprise that uses alluvial silt, a freely available raw material found in water bodies, to make firebricks for construction. Alluvial Silt is more environmentally friendly and less expensive than the concrete bricks that dominate the market in the Philippines. When I visited Sidlakpinoy’s founder, Emmanuel Alkuino, it was incredible to hear how he used technology to create a new and disruptive value chain. Emmanuel not only received a patent for the firebricks from silt, but also the machines that are used to produce the bricks! He is a true inventor and plans to further his Social Enterprise model by outsourcing part of Sidlakpinoy’s production process to nearby villages.
Over the next six months, Impact Accelerator staff, our local partner ASSIST, and talented mentors (if you are interested in joining the mentor group, click here) will be working hard to support the winners in growing their business and scaling their impact. We believe our innovative model in the Philippines can be replicated across Asia, which will continue to grow a steady pipeline of sustainable enterprises that can impact millions of lives.