On May 2, 2018, Go Negosyo sa Radyo host Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla and co-host Sen. Bam Aquino were joined by Head of Partnerships of Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm Mia Navarro as well as JP Jose, Jem Awa, and Danilo Ablen to discuss their social enterprises as graduates of the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) program.
Gawad Kalinga (GK) is known for building houses for the underprivileged members of the society. But for Mia Navarro, “it is more than that. Building houses is just a start of the journey to really end poverty.” Through the program, they were able to make money and at the same time help out people that is why there is always a social impact through GK’s program.
The SEED program is GK Enchanted Farm’s avenue for entrepreneurs to build their social enterprises. The GK Enchanted Farm the first farm, village, and university in the world located in Angat, Bulacan. Young entrepreneurs undergo a 2-year TESDA accredited program as well as attend workshops and a final interview before launching their own social enterprises.
More than the technical aspects like skills trailing, SEED highlights character building in order to boost their confidence level. The young entrepreneurs have mentors to hone their skills and knowledge and provide emotional support as they move away from their homes to attend the program.
JP Jose, co-founder of Oasis Chips or more commonly known as OChips, shared how he and his friends who are all food lovers started their enterprise. According to him, rootcrops are of low value and often neglected in the country that is why they used taro (gabi), sweet potato (kamote), purple yam (ube), and potato to manufacture chips that are pure and natural.
Faburoots co-founder Jem Awa mentioned that their business which also utilizes rootcrops to produce powders is a way to engage more farmers in their endeavor. Powders made from gabi, kamote, ube, and cassava can be used as an additive or substitute to regular flour in baking desserts. They can also be used for jam and ice cream making. These rootcrops help lower blood sugar level and prevent other cardiovascular diseases.
Meanwhile, co-founder Danilo Ablen told the story of how they came up with OhGK!. Someone from the Enchanted Farm with a respiratory failure was given an Oregano drink and eventually felt better, all thanks to their Nanay Gloria. They then incorporated Honey, Ginger, and Kalamansi to the drink for a new flavor, hence the name. The detoxifying drink enterprise is now eyeing on exploring other indigenous crops to create new drink varieties.
These three young entrepreneurs are scholars of the SEED program who are behind the 15-20 enterprises established every year. Going to SEED, according to them, is hard and not an easy path but with the right passion and mind, they were able to overcome the challenges. “Kahit gaano ka katalino, kahit gaano ka ka-skilled, if you don’t have the heart for it, if hindi ka talaga motivated, then you’re not gonna make it,” Mia said.
When asked about how she got through the hardships, Jem said “iniisip talaga namin kung para kanino yung ginagawa namin.” Danilo recalled how used to dig up a fish pond for seven days during his days in the camp. Through these activities, “nahukay ko din yung halaga ko,” he commented.
“Put integrity first over profit. Whatever you do, you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for the people around you. Kung pwede kang may maitulong, itulong mo.” These lessons mentioned by Mia will always be imbibed and applied by these young minds behind these successful social enterprises.