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More than just a cash sink

Social entrepreneur shows how helping others make a lot of economic sense.
By Jimbo Owen B. Gulle |

"Business is a powerful way to systematize change," Illac Diaz, founder of the My Shelter Foundation, says, adding that there is no reason why social entrepreneurs can\\\'t earn a good living while helping solve society\\\'s big problems.


The former model and actor, who earned a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston, Massachusetts, explains: "Social entrepreneurs are meant to solve one [social] problem and move on to another. Their businesses should not just be a "cash sink" or be a means for big companies to make tax deductions through donations."


Diaz said that the current focus of his foundation is to build cheaper but sturdier schools and homes throughout the country using materials that are indigenous to their prospective locations.


Diaz argues that while using bamboo, "earth blocks," and other environmental resources to build more disaster-proof buildings might seem backward to some, these are actually "sustainable materials" that make a lot of economic sense.



"Why should we build with cement, steel, and glass when the country is too poor for it?" asks the former Fulbright-Humphrey Scholar at the  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also in Boston, where he had taken the Special Program for Urban and Regional Studies.


Diaz says that building with our own renewable resources instead would actually help spur local economies. He explains that with the presence of Filipino-developed technologies that could produce sustainable materials in bulk--for instance, a machine that can produce up to 6,000 earth blocks in one hour--the use of these sustainable materials could mean huge savings that would otherwise have gone to buying cement, glass and steel.


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