My Externship at Ever Bilena and its CSR

One of the most useful courses I took in Fall 2012 was UGBA192P – Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Consulting Projects with Professor Kevin Sweeney. Useful, in terms of providing experiential learning, wherein we worked as student consultants, saw how the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) theories we learned in class were being applied in real life, and contributing to that process as well.

Through the course, I learned that there are myriad definitions to CSR. Some consider it a company’s obligation, some describe it as a purely marketing and public relations effort, while others deem it as a sincere gesture of wanting to do good for the community. However, it all draws down to a business’s positive contributions to society. This is done through managing its social and environmental impact, as well as by being responsive to its stakeholders needs. It is up to the company to decide which CSR areas they would like to emphasize on.

Khristine Gabriel, Ever Bilena's Business Development Manager, empowers women at the correctional institute.
Khristine Gabriel, Ever Bilena’s Business Development Manager, empowers women at the correctional institute in Mandaluyong.

In order to develop a successful CSR initiative that will result to the highest value creation and risk mitigation for the company, corporate responsibility must be integrated into and aligned with the business’s overall strategy and business operations.

Inmates are beyond happy to feel the warmth and kindness from Ever Bilena towards their correctional community.
Inmates are beyond happy to feel the warmth and kindness from Ever Bilena towards their correctional community.

This winter break, I had the privilege of participating in one of Ever Bilena’s CSR campaigns as part of my externship with the company. Ever Bilena began its Correctional Women’s Fellowship CSR effort over seven years ago, starting with one women’s correctional institute to serving five jails today. While this is extremely different from the CSR consulting work I did for my client    which involved social impact investing    the experience has allowed me to further explore the diverse areas that CSR could cover.

One of the women from the correctional institute says her thanks to Ever Bilena on behalf of all the inmates.
One of the women from the correctional institute says her thanks to Ever Bilena on behalf of all the inmates.

Ever Bilena is a God-centered, local, flourishing cosmetics company in the Philippines whose vision is to bring out the best in every woman, as well as produce high quality products at an affordable price. Additionally, Ever Bilena also includes creating a family environment within its employee base and improving their quality of life as part of its corporate philosophy.

The inmates pray for each others' well being.
The inmates pray for each others’ well being.

Every month, Ever Bilena sends out its Human Resources or Marketing team to head the services at these institutions. This does not only empower the female inmates, but the Ever Bilena employees as well, as nothing warms and feels more gratifying than one’s ability to give back to others. Meeting and speaking with a couple of the inmates as well as the Ever Bilena team that I worked with, I learned that developing a familial atmosphere is a common practice within the company. Through this effort, it is evident that Ever Bilena has fulfilled its mission and vision.

With one of Ever Bilena's Marketing Associates and the inmate coordinator for the Correctional Women's Fellowship
With one of Ever Bilena’s Marketing Associates and the inmate coordinator for the Correctional Women’s Fellowship

Moreover, Ever Bilena is active in various forms of CSR that open up opportunities for greater social impact. At one point in its existence, through the leadership of its business development manager, Khristine Gabriel, it has also established the Ever Bilena Gandang Pinay (Beautiful Filipina) foundation, where it trains battered women, elderly women, and widows marketable techniques and entrepreneurial skills to get back on their feet.

Through Ever Bilena’s partnership with Go Negosyo (Business) at the time, Gabriel also introduced the direct selling arm of the company to interested women-entrepreneurs with just 25 pesos as seed money to purchase a products catalog/brochure.

Today, Ever Bilena continues to be involved in many CSR initiatives. One of which will be happening later this month at a local orphanage in the Philippines to support the underserved kids, as well as the volunteer mothers who spend their time taking care of the orphaned children for a miniscule stipend.

The externship was definitely a great learning experience for me. It was even more pleasant to have done so with a responsible company.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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