Accelerating the success of social enterprises
With BPI Foundation
Year 5 Entrepreneurs wearing their Sinag shirts during a bootcamp session. Photo from BPI Foundation.
One thing we often hear throughout different local fields and industries is the existence of the "Filipino entrepreneurial spirit." Here, the advent of start-ups, social enterprises, and micro-businesses in the last few years is proof enough of local entrepreneurs and their willingness to drive the path of innovation and imagination.
That path, however, can be both uncharted and treacherous. These businesses face the uncertainty of securing capital, meeting investor thresholds, and surviving the difficult terrain of the local economy. Sustained success can be elusive, and it is understandable that some of them would prefer to count their losses early and call it a day.
Increasing enterprise visibility
The vision of BPI Foundation, the CSR arm of Bank of the Philippine Islands, was to create lasting support and mentorship systems for these budding social enterprises . An acceleration program, they surmised, would benefit these businesses by encouraging and challenging them to grow: to simultaneously improve their operations and commit better to their respective visions.
BPI Foundation initially approached us for assistance in putting up a website for what they then called the "BPI Social Enterprise Challenge." As a team that’s also invested in social enterprises, we thought that given the program’s promise, it would be best to pair their vision with a brand strategy and accompanying visual identity that would help them reach successfully their potential collaborators: the entrepreneurs themselves.
How then do we convince these enterprises that taking part in the project will be more than worth it? The Filipino word sinag, meaning "ray of sunlight," led us to the start of a potential brand narrative. The ray of light, with its clear visual register, could succinctly capture the intention that BPI Foundation wanted to achieve: success that is seen. Sinag would faithfully translate the role of the foundation alongside these enterprises: that it would highlight them and their ideas, and it would allow everyone else to see their work.
Thus: BPI Sinag.
The abundance of bright colors match the relatively straightforward design execution to approximate the vibrant community of social entrepreneurs in the Philippines, as well as welcome their eager participation. Sinag promises to be, in a way, their prism—letting the light of these enterprises "shine in" so that the "colors" can come out.
This execution, striking as it is, also felt like a good contrast to the usual portrayal and visual language associated with marginalized groups in the country. These entrepreneurs were not merely resilient or hard workers burdened with uplifting their families; they’re also highly talented, capable, and creative, especially with their businesses.
Encouraging growth and progress
As these enterprises generally do not have the capital of larger conglomerates and industry players, the odds are usually stacked against them. Aside from the financial difficulty of scaling up, some also fear that aspiring for “growth” might cast doubt on their authenticity and dedication to their advocacies. Yet, the rewards are critical—scaling up can help increase their reach and intensify their impact.
Instead of taking these fears and vulnerabilities as a precarious starting point, we took this as an opportunity to portray things differently. Our design and campaign emphasized that their success as a business equates to impact that the people themselves in the community would feel. The colorful visuals remain grounded in the hopeful challenge that these enterprises have to potential to both learn more and do more. This aligned well with BPI Foundation’s goals, as they want to attract and work with enterprises that are eager to improve, willing to scale up, and ultimately, hungry for change.
The Sinag tagline emphasizes that scaling up can help enterprises increase their impact on the communities they work with.
some also fear that aspiring for “growth” might cast doubt on their authenticity and dedication to their advocacies. Yet, the rewards are critical—scaling up can help increase their reach and intensify their impact.
BPI Sinag is committed to building a thriving social enterprise community and providing valuable support to its members. BPI Sinag hones this commitment mainly through the Sinag Accelerate Bootcamp, its flagship program, which provides participating social enterprises with specialized training opportunities, communities and partnerships, as well as financial incentives through recognition. Throughout the journey, additional initiatives have naturally sprung up including: (1) the Sinag Book, an accessible academic resource containing case studies on Filipino social entrepreneurs; (2) Sinag Online, an interactive and guided online library designed for those interested in local studies of social entrepreneurship, and (3) Sinag ng Pasko, a yearly Christmas bazaar that champions local enterprises.
Our design and campaign emphasized that their success as a business equates to impact that the people themselves in the community would feel.
Letting Others Shine
The refrain of BPI Sinag reads: “Scale your business, grow your impact.” The imperative here is tying together the business aspect with the impact aspect—making yourself better so you can better work for others. There is pride in individual success, for sure, but for support-focused programs like BPI Sinag and our collaboration with them, there is also pride in helping others shine brighter.