Alum endows UA&P research on social entrep

Alum endows UA&P research on social entrep

by Daryl Zamora, CCO on August 30, 2012 - 10:39 am

Dr. Bernardo Villegas (second from right) holds the first professorial chair in the University.

University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Strategic Business Economics Program alumnus Leo G. Parma made history in social entrepreneurship when his company, Asiapro, became the country’s largest workers’ cooperative, with over 35,000 members.

That meant better financial security among thousands of Filipino families and businesses.

But Parma was not satisfied.


So when UA&P’s Center for Research and Communication (CRC) invited him to consider creating a professorial chair in social entrepreneurship, he thought it a worthwhile ‘investment’ — and a fitting “payback” to his alma mater.

Last August 15, Parma signed a memorandum of agreement with UA&P President Jose Maria Mariano, creating the Leo Parma / Asiapro Professorial Chair in Social Entrepreneurship to be funded by Asiapro’s Kagawani Foundation.

“I was really introduced into the wealth of social entrepreneurship through SBEP,” Parma recalled in his message during the memo signing at UA&P. “I was introduced to ideas like social responsibility, profit sharing, distribution of wealth.”

From 60 to 35,000

In a simple ceremony with his family and officials of Asiapro, Kagawani, and UA&P, Parma recounted how he had applied SBEP’s social enterprise concept in the late 1990s.

“After a couple of years from SBEP, I was able to organize a cooperative,” he said. “Asiapro was really part of a corporation before. It was a division of my company, and I spun it off into a cooperative…where the workers became the owners.”

Parma said the cooperative started with only 60 members, a number that grew to 10,000 in 2006, and to more than 35,000 at present.

Dr. Mariano praised Parma for living out what UA&P’s founders envisioned long before the term “social entrepreneurship” came in vogue.

“From the very beginning of our research and communication activities in 1967, we made it very clear to our various stakeholders — the private business sector, government officials, our faculty and students,
and our colleagues in academe — that economic activity should always take into account the principle of solidarity,” said Dr. Mariano.

He said Asiapro is “an outstanding example of a social enterprise.”

Dr. Bernardo Villegas, co-founder of UA&P and director of CRC, is the first to assume the Leo Parma / Asiapro Professorial Chair. He described social entrepreneurship as a “very relevant” field of study and promised Parma that “[CRC] would not be unoccupied [and that it] would be able to involve a good number of professors.”

According to the Asiapro-UA&P agreement, the University appoints the holder of the professorial chair, who must be (1) a person of good moral character, (2) of professorial rank with high academic achievement, and (3) of established professional reputation in any field with a substantial bearing on social entrepreneurship.

Among the duties of the Chair holder is conducting social entrepreneurship-related lectures, research and outreach activities, and an annual colloquium.

During the memo signing, Dr. Mariano noted that the event then would be “remembered as an important milestone in the history of our University of Asia and the Pacific.  It will be also a milestone for the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship in the whole of Asia.”

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