Social Enterprises in the Philippines

Before I was aware of Kaya Collaborative., I ignorantly assumed that the Philippines didn’t have many locals striving for social good. Yes, it was a horrible thing to assume but every time I read about initiatives helping the Philippines, they seemed to be companies from the U.S. or Europe coming in to create what they believed were sustainable solutions. And the idea bothered me a lot because I’m firmly against the notion of the white man’s burden or the savior complex. As a Filipino American, I always liked to think that the Filipinos were just as capable, if not more. They’ve just been through a lot (years of colonialism and wars). Yet,seeing the lasting negative effects of Typhoon Yolanda resulted in a big blow to my hopes for the PI.

So when I heard about Kaya and the 14 internship placements of the fellows, I regained hope for the Philippines. The fellowship itself opened my eyes to the growing social venture movement that’s happening in the PI. And since I’ve arrived, I’ve had the pleasure to learn about more social enterprises.

Read on to see what types of ventures I’m referring to (in no particular order):

Gawad Kalinga (GK)

Gawad Kalinga is probably one of the better known social enterprises of the Philippines. Basically, they are working to alleviate the poverty that plagues this country. They are probably most known for their house-rebuilding efforts. However, GK has been doing more than that lately.

A few weeks into my stay here in the Philippines, we got to visit the first of GK’s Enchanted Farms. Basically, these Enchanted Farms will be communities outside of Metro Manilla that are filled with a farm, village and university for the communities that live there. They select the “poorest of the poor” and help them to relocate in these communities, where they will learn how to have  sustainable livelihood (as farmers) or for many of the youth, learn how to be social entrepreneurs.

(Left) One of GK’s many manifestos. (Top Right) Some of the baby ducks in their animal farm. (Bottom Right) Some of the plushies created by one of the many social enterprises that started within a GK’s Enchanted Farm.
Personally, after touring their farm, I’m not sure how I feel about their model. The idea of creating outside communities to better the whole community…it kind of felt like a cult. But I am impressed by their mission and scale of their operation. There are just a few things that I’m not totally on board with yet. I did enjoy their “manifestos” though specially the one pictured above.

Habi Footwear


A few weeks ago, one of my bosses, Florence Adviento, spoke to a social enterprise class at Ateneo along with two other social enterprises. This is where I was first introduced to Habi Footwear and where I briefly met the founder, Janine Chiong.

Just some of the Habi’s sandal designs. Eventually, they hope to use the rags to make other types of clothing too
really like Habi’s concept. They partner with mothers in the following two poor urban communities:  Kawan ni Sto. Niño in Old Balara in Quezon City and Saint Luigi Oriones Creations in Payatas. Habi provides them with the initial materials to weave the rags used in the Habi footwear shoe designs, which Habi then sells in its stores. I have yet to visit the actual brick and mortar shop they have in Katipunan but they do sell online! So for anyone in the states interested in buying a pair, you can check out their site online here.

Tsaá Daloy– Philippine Premium Tea

At the same event that I met Janine, I also met Jamir Ocampo, founder of Tsaá Daloy. Tsaá Daloy seeks to provide the public market with high quality teas that provide health benefits such as body detoxification and stress relief. They even have a chocolate chili tea to boost desire and libido (this made the class crack up, of course) but the flavor combination does sound interesting.

Where’s the social impact component? It’s in who makes the tea. Tsaá Daloy directly sources the herbal ingredients from local farmers and indigenous communities to raise their income share and to encourage them to use organic farming practices.


Meggie’s actually the girl on the left!
When I went to Banaue and Sagada, one of the other tour participants happened to be Meggie Ochoa, one of the founders of a small social enterprise known as ProoPH. This little travel/tourism company actually has a similar concept to Route +63 Travels but currently only provides tours in San Juan. They’re still within their first year but one thing that really struck me when I spoke to Meggie about her business’ concept went along the following lines: “Even though Route +63 does something very similar to ProoPH, I don’t see R63 as a competitor. Rather, I see them as a potential partner. After all, we’re both aiming prove to the world how great the Philippines.”

Well said for a young social entrepreneur.


I attended a networking event in Makati last week and there met some of the amazing people who work for Homegrown, an online magazine based in the Philippines. Through the content they post, they’re working to provide Filipino entrepreneurs and start ups with the tools and resources needed to empower them to reach their goals. And best of all, they have a section on social good, where you can read about some of the things happening within the Filipino social entrepreneurship sector.

Today’s Question: What types of social enterprises are you most interested in?

Categories: Philippines 2014, Social Enterprise, Summer 2014, Kaya Collaborative
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7 thoughts on “Social Enterprises in the Philippines”

  • Sakura says:

    Yeah I agree with you. I need to have more actual confident in myself but just wearing a confident mask on my face when I talk to people…

    I am not so into social enterprises though. By the way, you reminded me of someone I know before. Her name is also AnneMarie. Do you happen to know me before?

    1. admin says:

      Yeah! I believe we used to comment on each other’s blogs way back when I owned a site called “Smashed Dreams.” I returned the blogging world just this past year. And I remember you too, Sakura! It’s nice to see you on the blogosphere still!

  • Raisa says:

    I think the white man’s burden actually has a lot to do with why foreign organizations get so much press in the Philippines, and locals don’t. There’s that implication that third world countries are completely helpless and there’s no way they can help themselves. That’s not true, and I know it because anytime my hometown was waist-deep high in floods, we all come together.

    It’s a multifaceted issue though. There’s huge delays in local aid thanks to corruption. Classism is also a factor in it. Huge, huge gap between the rich and the poor. A lot of privileged people have no problem maintaining that status quo (I had a huge headache when the RH bill was a hot issue). I can talk about Filipino social issues all day. :P

    It looks like you’re having a good time in the Philippines! I haven’t gone back to visit since I moved back to the US. I miss it so much. I hope you continue to enjoy your stay!

    1. admin says:

      I totally agree with you! Filipino social issues are really really complex. There are a lot of great local organizations as I noted and I really think that the next few generations are different from past one. I feel a real synergy while I’m here as if a big amount of change awaits the PI. I think the country’s heading in a good direction. It’s still developing but I think it’s slowly starting to head in a better place. Slowly.

      And, you should definitely visit again! When did you move to the U.S. by the way?

  • Tiff says:

    Wow, honestly Raisa hit the nail on the head with what I wanted to say. But I also don’t think that organizations like Red Cross are these white knights or anything like that. The US has a lot of resources & the Philippines were formerly “owned’ by them so they extend their hand where they know they can. The EU also has tons of money to go around, so I wouldn’t really discount the fact that organizations that help countries in need have this white man savior complex, but rather a humanitarian act. However, this is where I completely disagree with missions, which are the epitome of the savior complex. It is a cult & it bothers me that people think they can just convert hundreds of people in exchange for assistance. It’s just … wrong.

    I have to look into that tea company though! I do love me some tea. :)

    1. admin says:

      I don’t have anything against the Red Cross or other organizations like it that are trying to do some good abroad. But I also think there’s a fine line between an org providing necessary aid and an org taking over. And well, with a lot of orgs I’m meeting that are based abroad, it seems like their work falls into them taking over (the colonist mentality of the Filipinos also plays a role here).

      I also have mixed emotions about the U.S. playing a role in the Philippines. I know the U.S. has resources but I have issues with the idea of the U.S. going abroad to help other countries when it needs help internally. But politics. It’s multi-faceted and there are a lot of ways to look at it.

      And missions…well, that’s a different story.

      I just like that I’m seeing more social enterprises in the PI: companies that are making money to sustain themselves but are mainly focused on a social cause. It’s becoming a bigger scene here among locals and it’s really uplifting.

  • Chynna says:

    Awesome enterprises!

    Raisa and Tiff both raise points that I agree with, actually. Whilst it is annoying to see that some people think third world countries can’t help themselves, I also don’t think America (or any other country) are doing it to be knights in shining armour.
    I’m not too savvy on the whole mission thing, so I can’t really comment on the cult aspect, but I can see where you and Tiff are coming from.

    Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that the people within are helping themselves and not just relying on outside help :)

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