This Thrifty Philippine Startup Is Turning Waste Into Wealth


Filipinos love ukay, and Philippine startup Humble Sustainability knows it. Built with a circular economy in mind, Humble helps local e-commerce, logistics, and retail companies resell returned or inventory items and cash in on the undervalued waste-to-wealth economy.

The startup, which was founded in 2021, recently closed its oversubscribed seed round led by Seedstars International Ventures, with participation from iSeed Ventures and angel investors like Alan Wong and Sagar Achanta. The amount was not disclosed, but Humble will use its fresh funding to continue its waste-to-wealth initiatives, helping companies bring returns and excess inventory into the circular economy.

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Humble’s concept essentially builds on thrift culture, mixing sustainability, tech, and the circular lifestyle to reduce waste on the side of both the consumer and producer. Consumerism has cost companies billions of dollars in losses, and e-commerce companies alone are estimated to lose $1 trillion from returns. The products that are returned are usually disposed of, which led to two billion tons of waste in landfills in 2021. The waste-to-wealth initiative works to fix this problem as it shows the potential to bring in $4.9 trillion by 2030. Humble plays its part in the circular economy in the Philippines, ensuring customers have access to sustainably-sourced materials and by working with retail shops to reduce waste.

“Our dream is to make living circular as normal as possible, starting with the way we buy things and what we do with them. We’re not environmental scientists but we’re really passionate about making an impact in this area, and this is the decade where action has to happen,” said Humble CEO Josef Werker.


Humble’s COO Niña Opida and CEO Josef Werker

Photo by Humble Sustainability.

Leading Humble’s seed round was Seedstars International Ventures, a seed-stage venture fund focused on emerging and frontier markets. Seedstars Partner Patricia Sosrodjojo shared, “Humble is a great fit to Seedstars’ thesis of supporting early-stage companies that can create meaningful impact with an attractive business model.”

Humble’s other investors included iSeed Ventures; Alan Wong, co-founder of Bezos-backed Ula; Sagar Achanta, ex-product leader at Amazon,, and Disney+; and Paco Sandejas and Richard Eldridge, investors and entrepreneurs from the Philippines.

Humble’s circular network is composed of two channels: an e-commerce platform called Thrift by Humble for individual buyers and MSMEs, and a network that connects sellers to B2B buyers and sellers for those wishing to purchase in bulk. A website for bulk sharing and buying is expected to launch by November 15.

With all the innovations in retail and commerce, Humble balances out their impact by ensuring that a circular economy is available to recycle and reuse high-quality goods for the sake of sustainability.

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Photo by Humble Sustainability.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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