Issue/WT Notices2012.06.07 11:55

[WT News]

1. The Civic Institute for Civil Society, a Japanese NPO, visited The Work Together Foundation.

On August 29, 2011, Representative Matsui Mariko and staff members of the Civic Institute for Civil Society visited the Work Together Foundation. The visit had been arranged at the request of the institute, which had deep interest in activities of the foundation and Korean social enterprises. The visiting group expressed special interest in support and programs to help members of the vulnerable class, including the handicapped and young people, achieve financial independence.

Per their request, the WT’s International Affairs Team introduced them to social enterprises which had been supported, along with their current status and challenges.

The team plans to continue to share the current situation of Korean social enterprises with relevant overseas organizations and seek cooperation to support the vulnerable class through social entrepreneurship.

Part of the Q&A session follows:

Q. How does the Foundation define the range of the vulnerable class in related projects?

A. We strive to expand the range beyond the legal definition in order to take care of those excluded from the government’s actions. For instance, in the case of the Youth Support Program of the WT, unlike the government's policy, the target includes long-term jobless people and those in unstable employment situations.

Q. In Japan, there are many different opinions on the target definition in supporting jobless young people. It could cover people from handicapped youths to discouraged job-seekers. Japan is currently at the initial phase of considering utilizing social entrepreneurship in resolving this problem. What stage is Korea currently at?

A. We do not strictly define the targets, but we do have fields we try to concentrate on. Our Social Venture Incubating Center supports young people starting up businesses. Since, in Korea, difficulties in terms of the social structure are one of the main factors influencing the job-finding of young people, the interest in business start-ups has been rising.

The foundation has supported the Hope Network in creating new discourses on young people’s work (online and off-line), the G-market Registration Fee Supporting Project, the research project of the Youth Alternative Social Safety Net (youth mutual aid), and the Social Venture Incubating Center.

Q. We wonder about citizens’ participation in terms of donations. In Japan, natural disasters cause people to donate in large numbers. However, Japan lacks regular donation systems and corporate donation. What is the current status of donation in Korea and to the foundation?

A. The giving culture has not been settled in Korea, either. But there are many organizations promoting donation. The foundation uses donated money in supporting social enterprises, but actually has had some difficulties. Once, more than 70% of the total contributions was from companies; however, the volume of donations from individuals has recently increased. We think it is time to start to raise the recognition of social entrepreneurship among donors using media such as SBS Hope TV. In terms of the foundation’s overseas business spending, a large amount of the budget mainly focuses on resolving structural and social problems rather than on emergency aid.

Q. You have more female workers than male ones, too. What is the proportion of males to females in your organization? And do Korean civil organizations have a higher proportion of female worker like in Japan?

A. While the number of males has been increasing, around 70% of the workers are females. The field of social welfare especially tends to have a much higher proportion of females. As the foundation supports social enterprises, we recruit people from a variety of places, such as companies, social welfare organizations, and civil groups. Although the people here work for the foundation in pursuit of values, there is recognition that the wages are still quite low.

Q. In Japan, intermediate supporting organizations have serious difficulties in securing financial resources. Do you also have similar difficulties?

A. Korea also has the same problem. In the case of the foundation, individual donations collected during the financial crisis in the 1990s constituted our underlying assets, based on which personnel and administrative expenses have been covered. However, since the interest rate has been lowered recently, securing funds has become a serious issue. Actually, project support funds from companies currently cover personnel and administrative expenses.

Translated: by Eun-Young CHOI

Edited: by Patrick Ferraro

Posted by hamkke