Feb
18
2011

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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.

Xavier Alpasa climbed out of poverty to the top ranks of the Philippines’ premier corporation, and then realized he wanted to give it all back. As a seminarian, he helped women sewing scraps in a slum connect with top designers to create high-end fashion pieces. Now a Catholic priest, Father Xavier is working to support an ecotourism venture on a former leper colony.

Stephanie: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?

The very first advice I would give them is to stick to the noble intentions. When you stick to noble intentions, you attract other noble intentions. And it becomes a convergence of good will, of people wanting to help.  When you stick to that faithfully, 100 percent, 24/7, people see through you with great transparency, without you having to talk about the details of your mission. It will show, it will bear good fruits. And the good fruits are then harvested to become seeds again of future generations.

Second, because it’s social entrepreneurship, one shouldn’t forget that the business acumen will have to be there. You need to really put in the best of business skills, so it’s important to actually network. It’s important to attract some of the best marketing professionals you have, the best think tanks for finance, so as to decide on your margins, your pricing, and the other financial strategies. The business acumen will have to be there.

Third, regardless of one’s religion, I also believe that there is a need to have a spirituality. There needs to be a belief in the beyond, the Divine, the Transcendence -- however you may call it. Because, like any business, there will be difficulties. And it’s important to stick to the mission and see the picture beyond the obstacles one will encounter.  All entrepreneurs will always encounter problems. And the only buoy, the only bridge that will bring you beyond all these obstacles is to see the Transcendent beyond all those obstacles.

Next, social entrepreneurship is about the poor. It’s about helping. So keep the focus on the poor. We do all of this because we want to alleviate poverty. Social entrepreneurship isn’t just a fad that we want to be a part of, because we want to be known as social entrepreneurs. We need to keep the poor as a focus. They are really the super stars for this. They are the reason why social entrepreneurship was born. We must always keep them in mind.

Read the rest of Xavier's Fellows Friday interview here.

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