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Social entrepreneurship in the Philippines

The heat is on in the Philippines! After the filing of candidacies for next year’s elections, social media has gotten exponentially noisy and emotional. Let’s all just be careful with what we put out there and remember to stay calm. If your heart can take it, there’s no need to block or unfriend those who don’t share your political views. It’s always better for us to know the other perspective to avoid a behavioral bias called confirmation bias or what we normally “hear” now as echo chamber. 

This is the season where the regular Juan and the billionaire John almost come to a level playing field – Juan and John’s votes are each counted as one vote come election day. This is the season when the marginalized sectors of our society somehow feel important again, as they are wooed by the candidates.

This week has made me thinking about social entrepreneurs. These brave souls are the ones whose life work is all about improving the condition of the marginalized sectors of society. 

What is a social enterprise?

It is a business whose primary objective is to serve a purpose that has a positive social impact. It seeks to earn profits to be sustainable and give benefits to the identified sector of society and environment, as opposed to the normal corporate objective of maximizing profit for shareholder/owner’s benefit. A social enterprise addresses social issues and contributes to improve the society. 

According to a study by ADB, as of July 2019, there were 164,473 social enterprises in the Philippines. That’s 17% of the total registered businesses in the country. Furthermore, 71% of the social enterprises are micro, small, and medium-sized businesses. The remaining 23% are NGOs and 6% are coops. 

I have the privilege of knowing and having worked with three of the more recognized social entrepreneurs in the country. These are their social enterprises.

Human Nature

Instead of the usual “start with a why”, Human Nature started with a “why not”? During a year-long tour in the US for Gawad Kalinga (GK) in 2007, spouses Anna Meloto-Wilk and Dylan Wilk observed the growing trend of affordable, natural, eco-friendly and ethically-made products entering the mainstream market. The ingredients of these products were coconut, elemi, sugarcane, aloe, etc. which were abundantly available in the Philippines. Something clicked and they thought, “Why not produce these products back home and employ the poorest of the poor that GK was already serving?”

The following year, the first line of Human Nature products was launched, together with sister Camille Meloto. Soon after, they received prestigious awards here and abroad for their social enterprise. Among them were Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young, then followed by similar awards from Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Asia Society, and more. 

Today, Human Nature manufactures a number of affordable, natural, eco-friendly, and ethically-made products in their Canlubang, Laguna plant which uses the highest standards many times stricter than the required benchmark in the cosmetic industry. They continue to grow, employing hundreds of residents from GK and other poor communities. 

I first met Anna when I wrote my first book “Raising Pinoy Boys”. She helped me interview her grandmother who was then in Bacolod. (Tony Meloto is one of the successful Pinoy men featured in my book.)

Since then, we would exchange some ideas online on various matters – from parenting to FQ to Behavioral Science. Recently, we have been working together to help GK employees have a high FQ.

FQ Workshop conducted by IFE Management Advisers Inc. for Gawad Kalinga on Sept. 24, 2021

Rags2Riches (R2R)

R2R is a fashion and design house empowering community artisans in the Philippines with a vison of making style and sustainability co-exist. The story began in 2007 in Payatas, the largest dump site in the Philippines. From the scouring dumpsites for cloth scraps to be made into foot rugs (basahan) to be sold in the streets, the nanays were organized by Reese and trained to become artisans that create fashion items together with renowned designers.

I first met Reese back in 2015 when we did a collaboration with a company. This was followed by speaking engagements together in events, then dinner and a couple of interviews. So, I guess I will just let you know more about her social enterprise that won her the recognition of 30 Under 30. 

If you missed our latest #FQMondayHabit, watch the above. And don’t forget your Homework. 

This was my interview with her before our dinner. At that time, she was very pregnant and very hungry because she was stuck in traffic.

Launched in 2015, is the largest youth platform in the country empowering students aged 13 to 23 to make self-aware education decisions that lead to a fulfilling career in life. The site help students gain access to courses, schools, scholarships, online education and other resources and opportunities that enable them to find their most suitable paths. 

I met the founder, French-Pinoy Henry Motte-Muñoz when Edukasyonph engaged me to help in the FQ matters for the website. He was also recognized as one of the 30 Under 30 for his social enterprise. 

To know more about Henry and his social enterprise, watch this video. 

My interview with Henry Motte-Muñoz discussing his social enterprise, our collaboration, and of course, his childhood money memory.

Hats off to social entrepreneurs

God bless the souls of social entrepreneurs. They conduct their businesses with a greater good in mind. Come to think of it, shouldn’t all businesses have this mindset? Social enterprises are now more relevant than ever before. I notice the marked increase in the need of the youth to find purpose in their jobs and that’s why we see a lot of top graduates opting to join them instead of the large traditional corporations. 

I salute the efforts of Human Nature and Rags2Riches in employing the marginalized sectors of society, who would otherwise just be earning very little and erratically, if not totally unemployed. 

I know that Human Nature pays its employees well. I remember a father and daughter conversation between Tony and Anna during a lunch we had years ago. Tony was teasing Anna, “Sobrang taas naman ng starting salary mo. Taas mong magpa-sueldo!” Anna replied, “I have to, in order to get and keep good employees.” Oh, by the way, Human Nature is the only company I personally know that has a no firing policy.

Let’s find out more about social entrepreneurship and how to make it successful in this week’s Money Lessons with FQ Mom and Sons.

It’s about time I have this interview with Anna Meloto-Wilk! Join us.

Do you have any questions for our Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awardee? Just send them in to [email protected] And join us live on Thursday so you can ask your question yourself.


1. I will be the guest speaker of Condura Negosyo Plus on Oct. 16, 2021.

2. Watch me on Lukot-Lukot, Bilog-Bilog on Tanghalang Pilipino Facebook Page & Youtube Channel! This Saturday (Oct. 16, 2021) at 7 p.m.

3. I invite you to subscribe to my FQ Mom Podcast. If you’d rather consume this article in audio and listen to my additional comments and insights, you may listen to my podcast on the platform of your choice, click this link Also, join our discussion on Kumu

4. To learn more about your money behavior, get your copy of FQ Books and for your loved ones too. The principles you will learn from here are not only applicable in your financial life but all the other important aspects of your life. 

To know more about “FQ Book 2”, watch this short video.

5. How good are you with money? Do you want to know your FQ score? Take the FQ test and get hold of your finances now. Scan the QR code or click the link 

This article is also published in

Attribution: Human Nature, Rags2Riches, Wix,

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