Samar-based NGO finalist in Project Inspire 2015
SINGAPORE - Northern Samar-based social enterprise Sentro ha Pagpauswag ha Panginabuhi (Center for Local Economy Development) or SSPI, is the only Philippine team competing in the Grand Finals of Project Inspire 2015, at the Suntec Singapore Exhibition and Convention Center.
Project Inspire is a global initiative of the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard, challenging youth in Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa to pitch their social enterprise model to help uplift the lives of underprivileged women.
Out of the thousands of entries around the world, SSPI’s entry, Not All Farm Produce Grow on Soil, was chosen to compete for the start-up fund prize of $25,000.
The grand prize this year was awarded to Women in Technology Uganda.
SSPI pitched a social enterprise model for the fishermen and seaweed farmers in the coastal communities of Northern Samar to build a community of practice on seaweeds farming, post-harvest processes, and marketing.
The Philippines is part of the Coral Triangle, a vast area conducive for seaweed farming. The province of Northern Samar is one of the most prominent areas for seaweed production and export.
The women of Northern Samar are usually found only in the peripheries of the agriculture sector because they are expected to care for the home and the children.
SSPI designed a model to equip them to run their seaweed farming business through technical, entrepreneurial, financial trainings. With the women leading the livelihood, raw seaweed harvested by the fishermen will be converted into quality seaweed products and compete commercially, cutting down on inefficiencies of conventional farming.
“With the income from seaweeds farming and trade, the women in the communities can now focus on other important family concerns and their personal well-being and not be worried with basics like food and the transportation of their children to and from school,” says SSPI Executive Director Joelyn Soldevilla-Biag in the project proposal.
He added: “We hope that by being equipped with leadership and business skills, the women in the communities can access gender and development budgets from their local government and can eventually be involved in community decision-making processes.”
Justin Biag, Joelyn’s son, represented the team in Singapore. “The biggest struggle for me was writing my pitch. It went through a lot of revisions, and even when it was my turn to present, I was uncertain with the content. I'm happy with how everything turned out though,” he said.
Despite missing to bag the grand prize, Joelyn and Justin were happy to share their experience back home and are determined to find other sources of funding to still materialize the concept.
Apart from learning from mentors from Project Inspire to strengthen their social enterprise model, Joelyn was also awarded a scholarship from Project Inspire’s academic partner INSEAD Business School. – Rappler.com
Fatima Gaw is a volunteer country ambassador for the Philippines for Project Inspire 2015. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for concerns or inquiries on Project Inspire or to reach out to SSPI.