Written by philippines

We started makesense in the Philippines 4 years ago, and since then the community has grown, social enterprises have been raised, and beautiful impact stories emerged. The road to sustainable change is still long but with the start of 2019, and the opening of all our new programs, I wanted to take the time to pause for a minute to celebrate major achievements of the makesense Philippines community and partners:

Challenge 1: Raise 10,000 USD in 72 hours to send emergency shelters in Nepal!

April 2015, a terrible earthquake occurred in Nepal: 9,000 people died and 22,000 were injured. This tragedy created a big echo in the Philippines, as the Philippines is one of the countries on the ring of fire and is very often hit by earthquakes. Trechelle, one of our volunteers based in Singapore, couldn’t watch this without doing something. During that time, she was well connected with a Singapore-based social enterprise called Billionbricks. BillionBricks is a one-of-a-kind non-profit that used design and technology as its tools to innovate shelter and infrastructure solutions for the homeless and vulnerable.

If I remember well, at the moment of the earthquake, BillionBricks just released a new model of shelters made for such catastrophes. Upon hearing about the incident in Nepal, BillionBricks immediately wanted to help, but didn’t have enough resources to send the shelters to Nepal. With that situation in mind, Trechelle, mobilized the makesense Asia community to raise 10,000 USD in 72h. During those moments, you realize how strong the power of a global community can be: even though our main goal is to support social entrepreneurs on the long-term, our community was agile enough to answer fast emergency situations. In 72 hours, 15,000 USD was been raised, enabling BillionBricks to send 100 shelters accommodating hundred of families in some of the worst hit areas of Kathmandu.

Challenge 2: use social innovation to engage citizens to tackle the issues of the waste management system

In Cebu, Philippines, back in 2017, Michiko and Rachel started a makesense chapter in their city to tackle the non-efficient waste management system. They saw in social enterprises an alternative system that could assist the local government to innovate faster. Makesense was for them a great platform to advocate citizens about waste management issues and local organizations who were looking for support. During a few months, the local volunteers organized activities with local social enterprises to help Cebuanos recycle and reduce their waste.

If you want to join the next events of makesense in Cebu and contribute to reducing waste in the city, click here.

Challenge 3: when Duterte closed down Boracay because of seeing waste-pollution, engage 1,000 people with sustainable ways of traveling

April 2018, President Duterte closed down Boracay as part of the government’s efforts at the island’s environmental rehabilitation. Because of heavy tourist traffic, Boracay was facing a lots of waste management issues. This issue is not only the reality of Boracay but of many islands in the Philippines. Naomi, one of our leading community members in Manila, took the opportunity to launch a sustainable tourism campaign. With this campaign, the makesense community aimed to engage 1,000 people with sustainable traveling. During one month, all over Metro Manila, events and workshops were organized to highlight solutions such as Mad Travel, Circle Hostel, while connecting potential volunteers and future tourists with these organizations.

This campaign was so successful that…

> it was promoted on TV  sensitizing thousand and thousand of Filipinos

> the makesense manila chapter decided to go further by organizing the first citizen-lead sustainable tourism forum in Mount Purro gathering 70 people together in designing new eco-tourism solutions.

If you are also looking at traveling in a more sustainable way, discover here 10 social enterprises in the Philippines that can help you out.

Challenge 4: Help out poor fishermen become a eco-friendly tour guides, while training them to lead their own social enterprise

Thanks to the success of the sustainable tourism campaign, we implemented a partnership with Primer Group of companies to support the launching of a community-based eco-tourism enterprise in Taal by the end of 2018. The Primer Group had been working with a barangay in San Nicolas, Batangas to support the preservation of the Taal lake for the last few years. The local government unit brought up the needs to Primer about providing more livelihood opportunities to the local community, as they were not benefitting from the tourism activities of the lake. With these observations in mind, Primer and makesense saw a great opportunity to enable more Filipinos to travel in a more sustainable way, while empowering a local community in the process.

It was the first time that makesense Philippines directly supported a low-income community start its own social enterprise; it was definitely interesting for us to adapt our tools and methodologies for a different audience. Even though the program is still ongoing, in only a few months, the signs of progress are very promising. Currently, 15 people benefit from training and coaching to define the purpose of their eco-tourism enterprise, organize the community around the project, and learn the job of a tour guide.  Moreover, Primer owns a resort which will be the first partner of the community offering them direct access to customers.

This program demonstrates the importance of multi-actors partnership which creates shared value between Primer and San Nicholas, Batangas. Through this project, Primer will act as a booking platform for the tours, while San Nicholas, Batangas will be forming a people’s organization to handle the tours.

If you want to check out the community and learn more about the work we’ve been doing there, join us in February for the 1st pilot of the sustainable tourism enterprise.

Challenge 5: offer a 100 USD medical consultations to 1,000 low-income persons

In 2017, we had the chance to meet Dr. Winston, thanks to a call for health entrepreneurs project we launched. Dr. Winston came to us since he has had been treating kids for skin diseases for more than 10 years in provinces. He realized that many of these diseases could be avoided if they had better access and knowledge of hygiene. Because of that, Dr. Winston asked us to help him start his health social enterprise to help kids coming from low-income communities improve their hygienes.

Dr. Winston joined our first Social Health innovation boot camp; and during 10 days, we helped him create a prototype and test social enterprise: a soap brand empowering kids from low-income communities access better hygiene. Dr. Winston wasn’t an entrepreneur at first but with the support from the makesense coaches and volunteers, and makesense’s design thinking methodology, he was able to launch his social enterprise: Squeaky Clean Kids.

In 2018, Dr. Winston joined the makesense academy, a 6-month incubation program to transform his prototype into a structured social enterprise. In only a few months, we are very proud of the incredible achievements of Dr. Winston:

  • 1,000 soaps sold
  • 300 kids educated in different Gawad Kalinga communities
  • Implementation of partnerships with major NGOs such as the Virlanie Foundation
  • 2 new partners joined his founding team
  • Launching of a B2B offer in partnership with coffee shops, with a diversification of products (from soap to conditioner & body scrub)

Dr. Winston is the perfect example of the entrepreneur passionate about his mission. Dr. Winston knew how to listen to the needs of the community and market, but also needed training and coaching to start his adventure and build strong foundations for his social enterprise.

We love you, Doc!

For us, each member of our community is unique, so it’s important to let our ambassadors and entrepreneurs choose their engagement. Do you also want to build a social impact story with us? Do you also want to launch your social enterprise? You would like to join a makesense chapter? Reach out to us! We will be more than happy to help you initiate your social innovation adventure!


Léa Klein – Country Director