I turn a year wiser today and I feel so fulfilled with the recent events that my non-profits have been blessed with.
First, the Philippine Coffee Board Inc. (which we founded 11 years ago) has taken great strides in developing coffee communities around the country. Recently, we were offered assistance by other institutions to carry on even without state support. We will be holding the largest coffee summit during Coffee month in October, and will have the most significant Coffee Origins show (October 10 to 22 at Greenbelt 5) which now includes ARMM as a coffee source. Coffee for peace, indeed; and coffee for development. Not to mention, coffee for the country’s self- sufficiency in the crop.
In the women and business field, we would have just arrived from the APEC Women and Economy Summit in Bali, Indonesia, where 20 government and private sector representatives sat on high-level policy tables to discuss Women Empowerment through business. We were 20-strong this year unlike in past years of APEC Women and Economy meetings. We at the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (which was founded in 1997) will be the official private sector representative together with the state during the APEC Women and Economy Summit in 2015 which will be held right here in our shores. How cool is that?
In the Women and Coffee business we have established the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) Philippine Chapter which now has embraced key women coffee leaders from South Cotabato, Sulu, Benguet, Negros Occidental, Batangas and Bohol in our year-old existence as a non-profit. We will hear from these women during our coffee summit in October. I have also just attended the Board and Committee meetings of IWCA international in Seattle where I was given the assignment of being the Coffee Mentor for Asia and the Pacific. I will assist the Headquarters and Chapter Relations in seeing to it that country chapters are formed in Producing and consuming countries from Asia, Pacific to the Middle East.
There is a convergence happening between and among these non-profits and I see a hand coming from somewhere to choreograph these events.
Firstly, we are seeing the results of our coffee summits held from five years ago to date. What we thought were sessions to merely share knowledge among stakeholders happened to be the driving force for many new coffee farmers needing the inspiration.
And so, we feel fulfilled that our efforts were not in vain. And we carry on.
Secondly, in the women and business area, we have seen the establishment of many meaningful groups just in the past six months—The Philippine chapter of Women Corporate Directors International (www.womencorporatedirectors.com) co-chaired by Myla Villanueva, Mariels Winhoffer, Tina Tan and myself and BPW-Makati City (@womensteppingupPH) headed by Jeannie Javelosa and Ambassador Delia Domingo-Albert.
In women and coffee, we are seeing more women stepping up to the plate. I have met, just in the past two months an OFW retiree Mae Castillo from Bohol who has revived her coffee farm ; and OFW returnee Imelda Ahalul-Dagus who is opening a coffee shop to continue her father’s legacy which started in Jolo, Sulu and to preserve the Tausug coffee traditions. They are now members of our IWCA-Philippines Chapter.
Another important part of my being is in wellness and health. So I saw myself being invited and signing up to form what is now the Wellness Board of the Philippines, Inc. (Wellness Board for short) with no less than my most respected doctor-cousin Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, authentic integrative doctor of all time. I am blessed with joining the ranks of Rashmi and Ravi Singh and Lilia Pelayo, a lemongrass farmer-entrepreneur, among other esteemed co-directors.
And these are just the non-profits I am actively involved in. What about my profit ventures? Well, ECHOstore is our active social enterprise which just turned five years old this month. And with our approaching another milestone, I am tasked to expand our reach. So shop.echostore.ph is my baby. Our ECHO branded products will soon be available online, so we can reach more customers who have been clamoring for a branch near them. We know it is both difficult and expensive to put up stores everywhere, and ECHOstore is not something we can easily franchise. It needs pure commitment to the social and environmental causes it has espoused—financial profits have to be secondary. Not very sound news to a financial investor.
So we roll along with like-minded people who think of social and environmental gains before money.
Ah, it has been a busy yet fulfilling year. And I can only wish for more friends and networks to further our causes. Thank you to all our friends old and new—who believe in what we are advocating for. You know who you are.
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook: Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org