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Modern Mavericks

GK Enchanted Farm: The Philippine’s Land of Opportunity

“The poor are gold in the dirt. We just need to discover, refine, and polish them,”

said Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto.

Tony Meloto celebrates Rizal Day with farmers at GK Enchanted Farm.

His words resonated with me as I listened to his lecture. After his talk, he invited the audience to join GK Enchanted Farm’s Social Business Summit (SBS). The SBS opened my eyes to the Philippines’s opportunities to rise from the “Sick Man of Asia” to become “Asia’s Roaring Tiger.”

“The poor are gold in the dirt,” Tony Meloto said as he shared his inspirational stories on Social Entrepreneurship at Impact Hub Manila.

Hope from the Educated

At the SBS, Human Nature co-founder Dylan Wilk says that giving jobs to the poor is not enough be a Social Enterprise. We must respect their dignity as workers. As business owners, we are responsible for our staff’s career, emotional, and spiritual growth. Human Nature has a “No Firing Policy” because the staff’s mistakes are the management’s failures in skills training and values formation. They regularize all their employees to improve their family’s quality of life.

Human Nature Co-Founder Dylan Wilk shares his views on Social Entrepreneurship.

A Human Nature merchandising supervisor shares his personal and career growth with the company.

Hope from the Poor

All companies should embrace Corporate Social Investment (CSI). “Companies should invest in bringing people out of poverty because it expands the marketplace,” Tony Meloto says.

CSI is not a charity. GK Enchanted Farm develops the poor’s talents and forms their values through employment and education.

Corporate Social Investment empowers the poor to climb out of poverty through employment and education.

Social entrepreneurs tap the “Genius of the Poor” and develop innovative products and services. Frenchman Fabien Courteille started Plush and Play, the first Filipino toy brand. In collaboration with his community’s mothers, he develops various stuffed toys. These are available in Toy Kingdom.

(Top row, 3rd from left) Fabien Courteille collaborates with his community’s mothers to make Plush and Play stuffed toys.

GK Enchanted Farm launched the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) in 2014. Collaborating with French educators, this course trains top public high school students to become Agripreneurs, not mere farmers. Included in their curriculum are landscaping, agriculture, business, and French.

SEED students sing with Q York at the 2016 Social Business Summit.

The SEED students pitched their business idea at a Social Business Competition in the 2016 Social Business Summit. They won first place against other top universities.

The SEED students are given hands-on experience on all aspects of agriculture and business. They learn to raise various livestock and grow their own vegetables, fruits, and herbs while profiting from these.

“There is no better time to be in the Philippines than today. The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The world wants us to succeed. By tapping the genius of the East and the West, we will unleash the Genius of the Poor,” Tony Meloto said as he closed the Social Business Summit.

Tony Meloto closes the 2016 Social Business Summit at the GK Enchanted Farm.

“With the Genius of the East and West, we will unleash the Genius of the Poor.” – Tony Meloto

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