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Based in the Philippines, the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) is a learning and action network set up in 2008 by social enterprises, social enterprise resource institutions and scholars to catalyse knowledge creation, capacity development and movement building for social entrepreneurship in the region. As a membership organisation, its network spans 14 countries and territories in Asia with 24 institutional and 17 individual members. 

ISEA is committed to building a learning community and a nurturing environment for the advancement of social entrepreneurship, where community networks are an important segment of social enterprises. It also seeks to build interfaces between the social enterprise sector and the business community for creating new models and benchmarks of social responsibility in Asia. It strives to develop a common understanding of social enterprises and their role in promoting social equity and sustainability while advancing a movement for social entrepreneurship in the region.

APCNews spoke to Gomer Padong at ISEA to find out more about the organisation's priorities and why it has joined the APC member network.

Why did you decide to join the APC network?

ISEA has partnered with APC on multiple levels and occasions. ISEA and APC’s goals are aligned and so it was mutually beneficial for ISEA to become an APC member.

In 2021, we ran a 10-week course on Orientation on Social Entrepreneurship and Financial Management for APC and its partners in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

In 2022, ISEA and APC jointly organised a series of learning sessions on community networks: (1) Models of Community Networks: Bridging the Digital Divide and Enabling Last Mile Connectivity, (2) Community Networks: Issues, Challenges and Prospects, and (3) Bridging the Gap: Addressing Policy, Regulation and Governance of Community Networks. Resulting from these learning sessions, ISEA partners from Bangladesh, China and the Philippines expressed interest and got funding to pursue community networks linked to social enterprises and local economic development.

In 2023, the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on Technological Innovations for Sustainable Development was formally launched at the 4th Social Enterprise Advocacy and Leveraging (SEAL) Asia Conference at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand, led by ISEA and APC together with UNESCAP and Angels of Impact.

Becoming an APC member will provide ISEA opportunities for networking and collaboration with like-minded organisations that could lead to partnerships and joint initiatives to broaden impact on shared goals. Our membership can also amplify APC’s voice in advocating for social and policy change in Asia and the Pacific.

What do you think you can contribute as a member, and what do you expect from APC?

As a member, ISEA can bring a wealth of knowledge, resources and regional insights that complement APC’s mission. Similarly, ISEA can also benefit from the vast knowledge and resources available from APC.

  • Knowledge sharing and best practices: ISEA can share insights from its Model Building of Community Networks linked to the Social Enterprise and Local Economic Development project. 
  • Capacity building: With its experience in training and capacity building, ISEA can offer programmes on social entrepreneurship, sustainability and impact measurements for community networks.  
  • Research and development: ISEA can collaborate with APC on research projects that explore the intersection of social entrepreneurship and digital innovation and technologies. This could involve studying the digital needs of social enterprises, the impact of connectivity on social entrepreneurship and innovative uses of technology for social good.
  • Policy advocacy: ISEA can advocate alongside APC for policies that support digital inclusion and the growth of social entrepreneurship in Asia, engaging with policy makers to promote an enabling environment for social enterprises to thrive using digital innovations and technologies.
  • Networking and community building: ISEA can help expand APC’s network in Asia by connecting it with social enterprises, NGOs and other stakeholders working on social entrepreneurship, community networks, complementary connectivity initiatives and digital inclusion. This could facilitate collaborations, partnerships, and peer learning opportunities within the network.
  • Regional focus and localisation: ISEA’s deep understanding of the socioeconomic context in Asia can assist the APC network inform and tailor its initiatives to the region's specific challenges and opportunities regarding digital inclusion and ICTs for development.
  • Sustainability and social impact: ISEA can offer insights and strategies for ensuring the sustainability of community networks, complementary connectivity initiatives and other ICT initiatives and maximising their social impact, drawing from its experience with social entrepreneurship models that balance profit and purpose.