How do businesses that exist to serve the poor keep growing? At the 2nd Green Business Forum, Filipino social entrepreneurs will be sharing how “businesses with a heart” tackle growth challenges.
Co-presented by Human Nature, the country’s largest and fastest growing social enterprise, this year’s Green Business Forum has been dubbed “Servants & Stewards: the Two Faces of Sustainable Business”. The forum is slated on September 24, 2015 atSMX Convention Center.
The forum highlights that tomorrow’s thriving enterprises will be led by “servants & stewards” – entrepreneurs who serve the poor to the best of their abilities while being stewards of the environment. It is part of the 3-day 5th Green Philippine International Total Green Movement Exhibition and Conference (Green Philippines 2015). Green Philippines 2015 is organized by Global-link MP Events Int’l.
Human Nature believes merging profit and solving social ills is only possible when businesses challenge the status quo.
In a country with rampant contractualization and underemployment, Human Nature’s parent company Gandang Kalikasan Inc. chose to putits warehouse personnel, merchandizers, cleaners, and factory workers at the top of its agenda. GKI rank and file employees enjoy 72 percent above minimum wage, full benefits, and the company’s strict no firing policy.
The company has since reaped the benefits of its “more for others” policies. Today, Human Nature has grown from 5 employees in 2008 to over 350 employees. It has 30 branches nationwide, an expanded international reach, and has opened its own manufacturing facility in Canlubang, Laguna.
The Green Business Forum gathers organizations and enterprises who are driven by a compassion for the poor and whose growth has been fueled by constant innovation. They will be sharing their brand stories and the steps they have taken to close sustainability gaps on all fronts.
Speakers include Jourdan Sebastian of TACLOB, a company that makes upcycled backpacks in partnership with Typhoon Yolanda survivors; Jamir Ocampo of Tsaa Laya, a tea brand that is a source of livelihood for displaced women in the countryside; Mara Sebastian-Marza of MARSSE Tropical Timber; Jaime Paraiso of Treehugger, and Mark Rivera of bamboo toothbrush-maker MINKA Inc. Patricia Paterno of PAPEMELROTI will be delivering the event’s keynote message.
I work in a social enterprise — a for profit business with a social mission. A social enterprise’s profits are optimized, with a majority of its earnings going back to its social causes.
For instance, it seeks to manifest much-needed changes in the country’s labor policy by paying its rank and file 71% above NCR minimum wage. This is done even as manufacturers of similar or larger scale complain that they will go bankrupt if they meet the 125 peso, across the board wage hike that has been pushed by labor groups for the last decade.
Of course, if your are paying the “bottom” more, changes need to be made at the top. At our office, executives coming in from multinationals, willingly take pay cuts. They agree to take home less because they believe in the company’s social mission. They do this because they have been comfortable most their lives, with careers (perhaps unknowingly?) built on the backs of the poor.
While all of this sounds good and novel — and for the most part, it is — we tend to forget that an organization is made up of people. A company’s mission is carried out by people and people are flawed and careless. In the face of operational difficulties, conflicting personalities, and hurt pride — people cease to become anything else but human. We lose sight of the mission, what we set out to do, because we are weary. We get tired.
It is easy to blame others, to highlight their faults, and to hide behind the veil of shared responsibility. For executives, it is difficult to assume command responsibility while ensuring that we do not deviate from the mandate to lift up & draw out the talents of those we lead.
How does one lead and inspire without lording over?
People have a tendency to sit back and relax (instead of helping out) when someone is doing most of the work for a team. And this causes burn out for the “shining star” and disengagement for the laggards.
How can a leader be responsible and excellent while guarding against his team’s mediocrity?
The answer lies in simple truths. We need to accept our lot — our real strengths and our faults. We need to reflect on how our negative reactions (brought about by pride, the need to dominate, defensiveness, insecurities) have prevented us from pursuing the excellence required of a mission so great.
We need to see that the mission — to lift the Philippines out of poverty — is bigger than our pride and personal yearnings. We will never succeed if we don’t get over ourselves.
Last July, I briefly experienced what it was like to be a tour operator. Some relatives from abroad were in town and they asked yours truly to book a series of trips for them. I had three challenges. First, the ages of the vacationers ranged 1 to 60 years old (meaning: no one wanted to take long road trips or walk too far). Second, they’d gone to most of the Philippines’s popular spots (Boracay, Palawan, Baguio, etc.). And lastly, the trips were taking place in July, during the manic “wet but humid” season.
Sisters Dinty Barredo-Keating and Mindy Barredo Perez-Rubio of luxury tour outfit Tour Flair are bringing back their popular Food Safaris, just in time for food adventures this summer.
The Food Safaris are, in themselves, a showcase of Philippine delights. “Not only do guests get to enjoy the country’s natural wonders and learn about our culture by visits to heritage sites, they also get to savor and experience gourmet Filipino cuisine prepared especially by Tour Flair’s signature chefs,” explains Dinty.
For this summer’s round of Food Safaris, Tour Flair will be working with a bevy of top local celebrity chefs. Chef Ado Escudero, Chef Niño Laus, Chef Maj Lazatin, and Chef Suzette Montinola will be Creating fabulous meals that will showcase regional Philippine cuisine.
For the summer’s first Food Safari on March 21, guests will both explore Intramuros and Malacañang, and be treated to a sumptuous “Old Manila” Spanish/Filipino dinner and cocktails prepared by Chef Suzette Montinola. Chef Suzette, of La Cocina de Tita Moning fame, will also hold a cooking demonstration at The Legarda Mansion.
Experience ‘hacienda-type’ cooking on April 3 at the enchanting Villa Escudero. Renowned for his culinary art and skills, Chef Ado Escudero, Officier Maitre Hotelier of the Chaine de Rotisseurs International association of gastronomy, and owner of Villa Escudero, will treat the guests to a mix of Spanish, Filipino and regional cuisine at the Escudero ancentral mansion.
Chef Niño Laus’ signature blend of French and Japanese cuisine will take center stage at the Quezon leg of the Food Safaria in the first week of May. Guests will dine in an ancestral house in picturesque town of Sariaya.
In June, the Food Safari will be held in San Fernando, Pampanga. Guests will delight at Chef Maj Lazatin’s ‘gourmet comfort food’, which has both Italian and Thai influences. Chef Maj will prepare her delightful concoctions at the Lazatin Ancestral Home in San Fernando. Built during the American colonial period, the Lazatin Ancestral Home was declared a Heritage House by the National Historical Institute in 2003.
“Our goal is clear. We want our guests to see and experience the Philippines as we know it to with he beauty and culture of the country – the warmth and hospitality of the people. An amazing, welcoming place,” states Dinty.
Aside from the Food Safaris, Tour Flair’s impressive roster of destinations also include Boracay, Banaue, and AmanPulo. From premium accommodations in Manila, shopping jaunts in the flea markets of Baguio to scuba diving in El Nido, Tour Flair’s customized itineraries ensure that visitors get to enjoy their destinations to the fullest.
“We have a Bespoke service. We believe that flexibility puts visitors at ease – everyone needs a little freedom ,” shares Dinty. “Each client is treated like a friend visiting our homes – with utmost attention.”
For more information and bookings, please visit www.tourflair.com or call 817-2738. Inquiries can also be made via email:firstname.lastname@example.org.