#Asia 7 Filipino social entrepreneurs who are making a difference in the community


Saving the world is not easy but someone has to do it


Enter the social enterprises — those revenue-generating businesses by directing their revenue to humanitarian and social development efforts — and the determined people who run them.

In the Philippines, where over a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line, increased social awareness and a strengthening entrepreneurial culture has produced social enterprises that incorporates technology into social solutions.

Social entrepreneurs in the country have built firms that not only offered financial support but have directly impacted the lives of communities by either involving them in the actual creation of the product or by helping them create their own.

From using local materials to employing local craftsmen, these social enterprises have built not only profitable businesses but thriving communities of small entrepreneurs and local artisans.

Here are a few of the people who are saving the world by helping build skilled communities.

Franz Ignacio (Loudbasstard)

Franz Ignacio is a graduate of Pratt Institute in New York who had been on vacation in Cebu where he met future co-founder Koh Onazawa. His family has been involved in designing, manufacturing, and exporting furniture — an inclination that was passed down to him as he had been planning to design a new furniture line before accidentally discovering passive amplification.

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After quitting his job in New York, Ignacio moved back to the Philippines to start Loudbasstard with Koh. His vision of merging modern design and Cebuano crafstmanship has been incorporated in Loudbasstard products of beautifully-designed portable amplifiers handcrafted by local artisan and using locally-sourced materials.

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz (Rags2Riches)

When Reese Fernandez-Ruiz visited the rug-weavers of Payatas dumpsite and met the talented women weaving foot rugs from discarded scraps of fabric, she had an idea that snowballed into an internationally recognised social business enterprise. Working initially to help connect the women to buyers, Rags2Riches has evolved into a design house whose local artisans create high-quality home and fashion items.

Born to a missionary mother, Fernandez-Ruiz was inspired to find solutions to social problems she witnessed growing up. She used her skills to train people to become entrepreneurs, help alleviate poverty, and lift the quality of life of Rags2Riches artisans. She has received numerous recognition, most recently being included in the list of Forbes‘ ’30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs’ in 2015.

Giancarlo Gallegos (Experience Philippines)

After studying and working in New Zealand, Giancarlo Gallegos went back to the Philippines to head a project that empowers small businesses to expand through the use of affordable web-based business applications. Whenever possible, he indulged his love for photography and random travel adventures. This led him to start Experience Philippines, a group that works with locals to organise random road trips across the country.

Also read: Meet the top 27 females who elevated Asia’s tech ecosystem to new heights

Passionate about sustainable local tourism industry, Gallegos works with local communities and small businesses in their destinations, fashioning ‘Experience Philippines’ as a platform that gives business opportunities to independent service providers. He also collaborates with other social enterprises, creating a network of like-minded individuals and providing an avenue for sharing advocacies.

Jezze Jao (The Carrier Pigeon Project)

Jezze Jao co-founded The Carrier Pigeon Project, or TCCP, with her brother Riz a year after she graduated with a degree in Management Engineering and Economics. TCCP is an e-commerce site for high-quality, locally-made fashion items, proceeds of which go to funding educational scholarships and literacy programs for under-privileged Filipino children.

Her work in The Carrier Pigeon Project has earned her a spot as one of the 24 social entrepreneurs around the world to participate in the Yunus and Youth Foundation fellowship program in 2015.

Jim Ayala (Hybrid Social Solutions)

Before becoming a social entrepreneur, Jim Ayala had a long career in McKinsey and Company, an international consulting firm, and Ayala Land, a publicly listed company. After several decades in the corporate world, he began to feel the need to be directly involved in empowering poor communities throughout the Philippines.

Leaving his corporate job, Ayala founded Hybrid Social Solutions, or HSSi, a firm that acts as a vehicle for socially-oriented groups to reach remote communities. HSSi primarily distributes solar-powered lights to far-off communities. These lamps, which also has cellphone-charging capabilities, provides light and communication, and has resulted in additional work hours for workers and increased study time for students. For HSSi, Ayala has received both the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Philippines in 2012 and was named one of Schwab Foundations’ 24 World Social Entrepreneurs of 2013.

Henry Motte-Muñoz (Edukasyon.ph)

A graduate of London School of Economics and the Harvard Business School, Henry Motte-Munoz clearly has the advantages that good education can offer. Previously based in London, he came back to the Philippines, where he co-founded BantayPH, a platform that aims to educate citizens about good government services.

Passionate about giving back to the country and lessening the inequalities between opportunities, Motte-Muñoz founded EdukasyonPH, a platform that connects students to educational opportunities like scholarships, grants, and exchange programs. The platform also provides career track information that includes degree requirements, cost projections, and employability.


Image Credit: fazon / 123RF Stock Photo

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