The Social Change Tech Scene in the Philippines

David Geilhufe, Program Manager, 

May 31, 2017

In late February, I met up with 40 or so folks from the Manila technology start-up and NGO communities at NetSuite’s Manila office for an event sponsored by a nonprofit, independent community of business, technology, and start-up enthusiasts. Members meet to share ideas, learn new skills and discover growing opportunities in the field of technology. Our session was themed “Technology as a Tool for Social Change” and brought together participants from a mix of private firms, freelance networks, social enterprises and nonprofit organizations.

The vision embedded in the DNA of Silicon Valley software companies is truly reaching around the world. I met entrepreneurs building mobile applications, local web-enabled services and nonprofits looking for technology solutions to unique operational challenges. The common thread was the desire to share knowledge, find out what people are doing and move the local community forward. We’re proud that NetSuite can play a role.

NetSuite Principal Product Manager Jan Pabellon hosted the meet-up as a way to introduce NetSuite and help nonprofit organizations discuss ways to improve their operations through technology. The event provided participants with an opportunity to network with one another and discuss the ways in which technology can be used to promote positive social change, empowering local communities, giving a voice to the marginalized, driving openness and transparency and promoting economic development.

I must admit, I’m used to doing these events in San Francisco where the questions come fast and loud, the “expert” is really just someone for the audience to challenge, and the rest of the room has far more wisdom to share than the speaker. In Manila, it is far more civilized and it takes a lot to get the participants to share their stories and expertise. But it was fascinating to hear what WorldVision is doing around operations in the Philippines, to hear about TechSoup Asia, and to get into a good discussion of how the Philippines can keep the fruits of technology innovation at home to combat some of its serious economic challenges.

The session was a great reminder of the importance of collaboration among technology firms, NGOs and the rest of the community and how cloud-based solutions, like the NetSuite product, can make an incredible impact by allowing organizations to better manage their information. NetSuite’s corporate citizenship arm,, helps grantees accomplish their mission through the SuiteDonation program where eligible organizations can receive a product donation and leverage the skills and passions of NetSuite employees through the organization’s SuiteVolunteers pro bono program.

Throughout the lively discussion, it was clear that everyone was in agreement on one key fact. If used effectively, technology can be a powerful tool to promote and effect wide sweeping positive social change. It can reduce the time and cost to deliver services, raise funds and engage stakeholders--ultimately enabling organizations in the social sector to better accomplish their mission. I am proud of the role that can play in enabling this change for organizations around the world.

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