The modern Filipino seems to have grown a habit of constant motion—whether it’s getting from point A to point B, or completing a new project from idea to output. It’s likely thanks to the Internet age that has opened an unlimited wealth of information.
And so empowered more than ever, Pinoys create and innovate at a rate unheard of in the past. More importantly, they inspire many to step up in assisting local progress for their fellowmen.
In this story, Rexona shares with The Sunday Times Magazine “New Pinoy Movers” that are making waves.
After many years in the corporate world, Hapinoy founder Mark Ruiz grew his career and moved toward social enterprise. “I’m most passionate about bringing happiness and prosperity to every Filipino,” he says. “I love the fact that I am doing something beyond me, greater than me.”
Hapinoy is a social enterprise designed to empower mothers who run sari-sari stores to create sustainable businesses through training, micro-financing, and giving them the opportunity to offer high value products and services in their stores.
Discovering his passion, however, did not happen overnight. It was a long process of volunteering with various organizations, and meeting with different people from all over the country, coupled with reflection and discernment. But doing so energized him and reaffirmed his choice of vocation.
He shares, “I meet with Filipinos from literally all walks of life. From a humble sari-sari store owner, to an urban poor artisan, to high tech engineers, to inventors, to the people in the office, and Filipinos are one of the most hardworking people out there.”
A social enterprise that supports 200 farming communities by creating a market for their products, the Got Heart Foundation was founded by Melissa Yeung in her early 20s to provide opportunities for hardworking Filipinos.
Armed with an undergraduate degree in Development Studies, combined with a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship, Yeung’s first foray into a life of service was when she started teaching art to orphans at 13 years old. Her sense of purpose lies in being able to provide opportunities for the hardworking Filipinos that Got Heart was created to serve.
Since Got Heart Foundation was founded in 2007, Yeung has kept on moving it forward, with five stores and two restaurants currently in operation, as well as offices in Metro Manila, Palawan and Davao. The Foundation has also supported, through a scholarship program, 50 graduates who have sought opportunities abroad, started their own businesses, or returned the favor to Got Heart by working within the company.
With all these achievements, this New Pinoy Mover shares that she has no intention of slowing down as she plans to continue expanding Got Heart to be able to help more Pinoys in the future.
“My passion is really to make a difference,” declared the humble innovator Aisa Mijeno, who co-founded the social enterprise and tech-start-up SALt, which stands for Sustainable Alternative Lighting.
Cleverly, SALt’s technology runs on its namesake: saltwater fuelled light as a cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly replacement to kerosene lamps in underdeveloped rural communities.
SALt was born out of a happy twist-of-fate: the rejection of her Masters’ thesis for its lack of vertical alignment with her course. She decided to pursue it anyway as a passion project, and submitted her application to local start-up incubator Ideaspace. Her idea unsurprisingly placed her as a member of Ideaspace’s batch 2014 incubatees.
Now she calls herself the “Chief Evangelist” of SALt, as she travels around the country for meetings, pitches, and talks trying to get investors. She also hopes to move and encourage the youth to take the same leap of faith that she did, and create or support start-ups and social enterprises at the grassroots level. This New Pinoy Mover hopes that the core technology used in the SALt lamps paves the way for more sustainable applications in the future.
Rags2Riches Inc. (R2R) is one of the most successful social enterprises in the Philippines, founded in 2007 by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz.
For R2R provides sustainable livelihood and an empowering work environment for community artisans through beautiful and sustainable designs. These women “upcycle” overstock cloth, locally sourced materials, and indigenous fabrics and transform them into high-value and elegant “eco-ethical” products.
This New Pinoy Mover has been recognized internationally, as the 2012 World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader, World Entrepreneurship Forum’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year, and one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Social Entrepreneurs under 30 years old.
Reese shares that being resilient and compassionate are two defining qualities of Filipinos.
Despite everything that her countrymen and women have been through, compassion for one another is always manifested and this is what moves her every day as she continues to build a bigger R2R community.