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Gawad Kalinga: Building Bridges the Link Businesses

guy_pfeffermann_webOn the last day of the conference, about 40 conference attendees participated in our Networking Field Visit, which was a hands-on “social-volunturism” experience at Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. Gawad Kalinga (GK) is a nationwide nonprofit organization focused on integrated rural community development. A key aspect of the Founder and CEO, Tony Meloto’s concept is building bridges that link businesses, including multinational companies and low-income farmers in win-win value chains. The GK Enchanted Farm is a pilot site and breeding ground of social enterprises, formed with the values of using the best of the Philippines’ resources to provide sustainable solutions for the least fortunate.

GK Enchanted Farm is also a venue for experiential learning: one that makes farming “the new cool” – fashionable and desirable for the young to be their career option. Through its programs and camps, the Enchanted Farm attracts visitors of all ages and nationalities all year round. At the same time, the children of the farmers are also given quality mentorship and education. Launched in 2014 and starting with about 43 bright and determined students from various public schools, the School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) aims to produce graduates who will tackle poverty through agriculture and innovation. This is where young students from public high schools will emerge as globally competitive social entrepreneurs. Uniquely, GK is a magnet for interns from top business schools, who team up with young would-be entrepreneurs from these rural communities. We had the opportunity to hear from some of these interns as well as the young would-be-entrepreneurs who they are teamed up with.

Luise is a graduate student who came to complete his first year internship at the Enchanted Farm for half a year as part of his HEC Paris studies. Vincent, a 17-year old child who is part of the GK SEED program is Luise’s partner. Here is their story:

“My first months as an intern I spent slaughtering chickens 15 hours a week, and cleaning chicken poo — going back to the basics, because I realized putting a revolution into an industry or design a business is difficult to accomplish from a computer in a room at HEC Paris. I needed to get schooled from his suppliers. I have been here 14 months and am still figuring it out. I am now actually raising free-ranged chickens, which took me 8 months to realize this was the way to go. Now I am still trying to figure out how to involve a network of small scale farmers into this business, how do I connect them to the city. The way I understand that is working with the students. Basically my future partner is 17 years old, and we are learning how to do this together.”
— Luise, HEC Paris MBA Student

“I’m 17 years old, and one of the SEED students here. My mother is part of the housekeeping team here, and my father was a garbage collector, but now he is a farmer. He is making fertilizers out of worms. And me I am a SEED student. Before, I was one of those kids who didn’t have dreams. I didn’t think I would study in college or even finish high school – I thought I would become a tricycle driver, a construction worker or even worse a drug dealer. But now because of GK and SEED, I now have a dream, I now dream to be a social entrepreneur – that will partner with those french guys – with people who have high standards to help me get out of poverty. Together we can all work to help others in my community get out of poverty.”
— Vincent, SEED Student, 17-years oldThe community is already selling fruit drinks, high-end peanut butter, charming stuffed toys and other products nation-wide and exporting citronella oil Ð a very high value-added product.

Conference participants enjoyed the opportunity to shop and meet with livelihood groups and the social enterprises being incubated at GK Enchanted Farm.Guy Pfeffermann is the Founder & CEO of the Global Business School Network.