SyCipLaw’s LSIP Wraps Up with a Virtual Conversation with Social Entrepreneurs

SyCipLaw recently wrapped up its Lawyers for Social Impact Project (LSIP) -- a year-long program where lawyers of the firm worked pro bono for social enterprises selected and supported by the Innovation for Social Impact Project (ISIP) of Philippine S&T Development Foundation – Manila, Inc. (PhilDev) -- with a virtual staff meeting attended by SyCipLaw lawyers, PhilDev officers and staff, and representatives of the firm's clients under the project.

Brief comments from the firm's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee head, Jose Florante Pamfilo, kicked off the activity, followed by a talk from keynote speaker Eric Manlunas, a trustee of PhilDev and the founder and managing partner of Wavemaker Partners (an early stage-cross-border venture capital firm). In his talk, Mr. Manlunas noted that resource availability is one of the key challenges faced by social entrepreneurs; thus, a program where legal services are readily available to social enterprises is very valuable. When asked about the role that lawyers play in social enterprise development, Mr. Manlunas observed that lawyers are very methodical and deliberate in what they do; therefore, they provide balance to the mindset of a typical entrepreneur.

The talk was followed by a panel discussion led by SyCipLaw of counsel Mia Gentugaya, who moderated exchanges with social entrepreneurs Dr. Dexter Galban of Alaga Health and November Canieso-Yeo of Plantsville Health, and SyCipLaw senior associate and LSIP volunteer Mickey Chatto, on the goals of social enterprises, the need for (and sometimes scarcity of) good legal support, and other takeaways from the project. Mickey, who assisted PeoplePods, an enterprise that operates dormitories for local migrant workers, and whose goal is to give minimum-wage employees "a better life in an environment that allows them to live with dignity," noted that the project allowed him to use his skill set to engage in work that had a more direct contribution to the improvement of living conditions of ordinary citizens.

After the panel discussion, Eric Tomacruz, Executive Vice Chairperson of PhilDev, delivered a message of gratitude on behalf of PhilDev and the social enterprises. Closing remarks from SyCipLaw Managing Partner, Hector M. De Leon, Jr., wrapped up the meeting.

LSIP was established and has been run by the firm's CSR Committee, as part of the program to commemorate the firm's 75th anniversary in 2020. Under the project, SyCipLaw lawyers provided training and legal advice to social enterprises in various fields of law, including corporate housekeeping, contracts, employment & immigration, and taxation. While LSIP was originally conceived to assist social enterprises achieve investment-ready status, the project gained a new dimension with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the severe disruption in economic activity brought about by the pandemic, LSIP shifted to assisting social enterprises in their business survival and recovery efforts through the offering of products or services that directly respond to the COVID-19 crisis.