GK Enchanted Farm: Scaling Towards Social Progress
The 5th Annual Global Social Business Summit was a total success, a 3-day event that brought some of the best minds in Social Entropanurship and innovation, together to share stories and ideas with the next generation of socially responsible Fot for the past 5 years, GK has organized a Social Business Summit where social entrepreneurs from around the globe come to share their stories of their struggles and success. The summit is possibly the largest annual gathering of social entrepreneurs in SE Asia. Gawad Kalinga / GK Enchanted Farms is a Social enterprise which aims to end poverty for 5 million families in the Philippines. The organization is made up of a group of dedicated volunteers and education professionals who have a practical and efficient solution to tackling the endemic poverty that is a reality for millions of Filipinos. Their mission has been to empower the youth born into poverty by educating them in skills that will benefit them and their community. GK Enchanted Farms Pandi-Angat Rd, Angat, Bulacan Philippines Hours: 8am-5pm Tuesday – Sunday Closed Mondays Landline: 0916 225 3363 Web: gk1world.com
A Powerful Opening
Executive Director Luis Oquinena opens this year’s Summit with an inspiring message about progress. He is joined on stage by Wowie Moleto who reads a touching resignation letter from her father Tony Moleto, Founder of GK Farms.
Luis described the success and importance of the summit and how it has inspired development and growth in the GK community. He reminded the audience that this summit isn’t only about leadership — but that the summit is also about learning from others and embracing the spirit of cooperation. “14 years ago GK started with just a handful [and] the reason why we are growing — is because we knew, that what we started could not be done alone. So we needed to collaborate and build a platform.” -Luis Oquinena This year, however, was also about change and moving forward, as it was the first time in the 5 years of the summit’s history that Gawad Kalinga’s founder, Tony Meloto was not present. Luis also broke the big news of Tony Meloto’s retirement as chairman which was a surprise to everyone attending. Luis announced the new Chairman of Gawad Kalinga, Tony del Rosario, a longtime friend, trustee, and board member of GK Enchanted Farms. After the news, Wowie Meloto read a heartfelt letter from her father. In the letter, Tony Meloto thanked everyone at GK Enchanted Farm and ensured that GK is in good hands. Tony del Rosario takes up the mantle as new Chairman of GK Enchanted Farms. He explained the unique challenges that he faces in balancing his careers with both Coca-Cola and as the new Chairman of GK Enchanted Farm. “Tito Tony (Moleto) inspired, not just the two of us, but my whole family to get involved with GK, and it’s been an amazing journey — I have to say. I mean it basically changed my life.” Tony has been apart of GK for nearly 14 years and a senior board member for 4. He brings years of managerial experience to his new role at GK and has a positive outlook for what the future will hold.
Stories Of Hope
The most memorable part of the opening was the testimonies from some of the students in the SEED program. They shared their harrowing stories of overcoming violence and hardships and how coming to GK Farms gave them a chance to take their lives into their own hands.
Keynote Speaker Jason Gonzales, Mayor of Iloilo talked about the success he’s had in his hometown. By implementing “The Champion Farmers” program, a social agriculture program that has helped farmers in rural parts of Iloilo improve their livelihood by giving the farmers the knowledge to properly tend to their land and encourages them to take a more of an active role in the distribution of their products — effectively eliminating the middleman so the farmers can earn more. His simple approach was inspired by the model implemented at GK Farm. Dylan Wilk, the Co-founder of Human Nature talked about their rocky start and how, despite being told repeatedly that they would fail, Human Nature is now one of the Philippines most lucrative and successful brands. He claims their success comes from adhering to 3 principles; 1. Pro-Philippines – All ingredients that go into Human Nature products are sourced from the Philippines. 2. Pro-poor – All employees of Human Nature come from underprivileged backgrounds who receive full health benefits and are paid 3 times the nations minimum wage. 3. Pro-environment. Courage to dream, and courage to keep on going despite what people tell you or the odds stacked against you, is what it takes to become successful. More about Human Nature —> humanheartnature.com Tom Graham Co-founder of Mad Travel explained the importance of Social Responsible travel, and that one way to help marginalized communities is through immersion and experience. Mad Travel offers guided tours to where some of the Philippines most isolated and neglected peoples strive to make a living. Tourists are encouraged to contribute in activities such as tree planting, that will directly benefit the indigenous communities and the environment they depend on. More about Mad Travel —> madtravel.org Hands-On Workshops After the days’ talks, delegates had a chance to experience the farm with some hands-on activities. Students showed us how they grew and cultivated fresh herbs and later used those herbs for teas and production for use around the farm. The variety of fresh, 100% organic herbs is pretty impressive. Day Two Highlights The Hackathon Pitches gave the student teams a chance to pitch their ideas for sustainability to a panel of judges. The winning team was awarded a trip to France and backing for their proposed projects. The talented and dedicated young from Keso Beso (a GK Farms startup founded by students of the SEED program), won this years’ Entrepurnal Youth Development contest. Keso Beso is a social enterprise by GK Enchanted Farm that proudly produces Filipino farm fresh cream cheese made from grass-fed carabao. The men and women behind the SEED program were thanked for their years of dedication, hard work, and mentorship. Day 2 closes with a bang as students perform song and dance numbers for the hundreds of delegates. Day 3, A Heartfelt Closing Day three was all about reflection. As students and delegates shared their stories and experiences at GK Enchanted Farm and what they learned from the Summit. Danilo Allen,(one of the founders of another GK startup) explained how his time at GK Enchanted farms taught him the skills he needed to pull his family out of poverty. He was joined on stage with his mother and younger brother, who opened up about their family’s hardships and struggles and their newfound success and achievements. A Canadian delegate shares her life-changing experience at GK Farms and how she will bring back what she learned back to her home country. Representatives from Mindanao Talk about the spirit of cooperation and how GK has helped them see past religious and cultural boundaries through outreach programs. Senator Bam Aquino gives the Summits closing remarks. Having attended the Social Business Summit every year since its inception 5 years ago, Senator Aquino knows the importance of the summit and how GK Enchanted Farms and the SEED program have shaped the lives of their students. He talks about the importance of second chances. “Here in Enchanted Farms, you find the magic of second chances. For our friends who are underprivileged, they come here and even though they were born poor they refused to die poor. You have companies that come here, who are probably die-hard capitalist, but they leave this place as inclusive businesses and social entrepreneurs. And hopefully, the leaders that come here, will have a second chance to be better leaders for the Philippines.”
The importance of GK and what they are achieving through their social programs across the Philippines and SE Asia cannot be understated. The minds of young men and women are being shaped and conditioned so they may start believing in themselves. They are being molded into productive members of society and future leaders of their communities. The Summit is the perfect opportunity for the students and delegates to hear how social enterprise can be a lucrative and beneficial choice in shaping their own lives and the lives of their communities for the better. The dedication and success of the students can serve as an inspiration for everyone who wants to make a better future for themselves. Anyone interested in social entrepreneurship should attend the Summit a least once. There is probably no other place in the Philippines where like minds gather together and share ideas that will undoubtedly shape the future of the Philippines. Congratulations to all the amazing students and staff at GK Enchanted Farm! GK Enchanted Farms Pandi-Angat Rd, Angat, Bulacan Philippines Hours: 8am-5pm Tuesday – Sunday Closed Mondays Landline: 0916 225 3363 Web: gk1world.com Live an Awesome Life,
SEAN NOLAN of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: I wrote this article with my own biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. Meeting new people and making new friends was the best part of the Summit