25 Social Entrepreneurs Changing Lives in the Philippines
Social entrepreneurship is a concept that's been around for a while, but its rapid growth the past decade is impossible to ignore.
The concept of social value has its roots in charity but it has evolved into a different beast. More than being charitable, social enterprises support communities by creating social, environmental, and financial impact. Social enterprises work together with the underprivileged, giving them the connections and knowledge to produce their goods. This, in turn, creates healthy demand and a steady source of income for those in need.
The emergence of the social entrepreneur has brought new hope to the state of the country. These are some of the notable people at the forefront of innovation, changing the Philippines one life at a time.
Meloto is the founder of Gawad Kalinga. As a kid, he lived near the slums and was exposed to Filipinos living in extreme poverty. But it wasn’t until he was on assignment in Australia that he felt the call to help and give back to the community. In 1995, he started Gawad Kalinga, a movement that helps build communities. Gawad Kalinga has been expanding in leaps and bounds since then, being implemented in over 2,000 communities as well as developing countries Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.
GK Enchanted Farm is Gawad Kalinga’s initiative to raise social entrepreneurs who will truly help local farmers and artisans, creating a ripple effect that will showcase Filipino products and hopefully help end poverty.
Camille Meloto and Anna Meloto-Wilk
Following in their father Tony Meloto’s footsteps, sisters Camille and Anna, together with Anna's husband Dylan Wilk, created Human Nature. A beauty and personal care brand, Human Nature produces high quality, natural, and earth-friendly products that help low-income communities, providing them with livelihood training, farming, and processing equipment. The brand has won countless international awards for social entrepreneurship and organic product development.
Messy Bessy was established in 2007 as a result of Krie’s program called HOuSE (Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises). The brand’s flagship products are biodegradable and natural household cleaners made by the at-risk youth who Messy Bessy employs.
After a five-hour personal tour by Tony Meloto of the Gawad Kalinga property, Cavosora decided to change life paths and volunteer. From volunteering, she eventually became part of the management team and a social entrepreneur. She started CalaBoo Creamery with the intention of helping out farmers through the milk of fresh, locally sourced, grass-fed carabaos.
Founded in 2010, ANTHILL makes hand-loomed fabrics for clothing and accessories in partnership with the Bulbulala Farmers and Weavers Association in Luzon, Handcrafters of Mary Enterprise in
Cabili grew up in Iligan and admired textiles at a young age. In college, she took up clothing technology at the University of the Philippines. A chance trip to General Santos City and Lake Sebu moved the entrepreneur so much that she established Filip + Inna. Today, she works with embroiderers, weavers,
When she became a mother, Aberasturi had an organic awakening. Wanting the best for her family, she would buy organic produce at high market prices. Her
One of the few
Aberasturi also conducts regular workshops on backyard farming to encourage more city dwellers to try it out themselves.
Marielle De Leon-Lazaro and Liza Morales Crespo
TALI Handmade is the brainchild of Lazaro and Crespo. The two started the bag and accessory brand after a visit to a city jail. Seeing the potential to empower lives, the founders recruited the female inmates and taught them design patterns eventually establishing TALI Handmade. Crespo is also a principal of Liza Crespo Ecotecture, an architectural firm that is focused on sustainable design.
Ritual was started by Bea and husband Rob Crisostomo. The general store stocks bath and beauty products as well as cooking ingredients locally sourced from small-scale farmers. In 2010, the same year it was established, Ritual was recognized by TIME for its products and advocacies.
Mark and Reese Ruiz
Rags2Riches works with the women of poverty-stricken Payatas, bringing livelihood and development to the community. The brand supports their artisans with programs such as further training, financial assistance, and full-time employment.
Michael Harris Conlin
A coffee enthusiast from the beginning, Conlin decided to make his passion a business. Henry & Sons began with him personally grinding coffee beans to sell. Finding success in his venture, he decided to inject the social aspect after learning that farmers didn’t put importance on coffee beans. Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence helps the La Trinidad farmers in Benguet, providing livelihood, equipment, water, education, and health.
Michael recently opened The Giving Café, a selling space and café that promotes FSCE’s efforts.
Thomas Graham and Rafael Dionisio
A journalist by profession, Graham came to the Philippines to interview GK founder Tony Meloto. He decided to stay after seeing Gawad Kalinga first-hand. In 2014, he launched MAD Travel together with Dionisio, creating a sustainable tourism agency that’s partnered with the several Gawad Kalinga communities.
Louis, the co-founder of
GoldenDuck develops duck products ranging from premium salted eggs to award-winning burgers. The enterprise is most known for their “golden eggs,” salted egg
Fabien Courteille (second from the right) with GK's SEED scholars and Marie Cavosora
Tajen and Catherine Sui
First Harvest produces delectable spreads and jams made with nutritious ingredients, priding itself with its no-extenders rule. The two founders thought of the enterprise at GK, where Tajen was a volunteer and Cat was connected to Human Nature. Today, First Harvest distributes natural honey-sweetened peanut spread, peanut crunch with
Ron Dizon, Xilca Alvarez, and Shanon Khadka
While volunteering at GK farm, Dizon, Alvarez, Khadka found that the community's mothers brewed teas from crops like
Torrance arrived in the Philippines in 2014, working under Gawad Kalinga in an effort to help the community. He founded Ambension Silk Enterprise to give the Philippine textile industry a new lease on life by producing artisanal Eri silk products.