GK Start-Up Business Camp: How to end poverty in the Philippines

“Tita Aida, Kristine, Angel, Jon, Mayumi, Joy, Veronica, Marylou, Lida, Michelle,” I counted. Frank, one of the organizers of the 4-day Start-Up Business Camp at the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Enchanted Farm, tasked us to learn 10 new names per day. I did well for day one but learning and memorizing 40 names in four days? Seemed impossible!

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GK Enchanted Farm Impressions

How can we end poverty in the Philippines? GK founder Antonio Meloto, known by everyone as Tito Tony, has a clear vision in answering that: train people to become social entrepreneurs, create profitable businesses and global brands and use these to give back to Filipino communities.

In an effort to achieve an ambitious goal of creating 500,000 new social entrepreneurs and ending poverty for 5 million people by 2024, GK’s Enchanted Farm came up with the monthly Start-Up Business Camp.

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Hyundai Center for Green Innovation at the GK Enchanted Farm

According to Gawad Kalinga, the Start-Up Business Camp is “an intensive training and mentorship program for students, professionals, and future business partners interested in joining a growing community of entrepreneurs who aim for optimum profit with the greatest social impact. Explore opportunities, learn how to start a social business, or grow an existing venture and network with an international team of social entrepreneurs.”

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Touring the 35-hectare farm in Angat Bulacan during the Start-Up Business Camp

The camp, happening on two consecutive weekends, introduces students, professionals, entrepreneurs, housewives and anybody of working age to the high-potential business opportunities the organization has identified within the country.

 All of these opportunities are within diverse industries, some of which are:

* Health & Wellness

* Social Tourism

* Food & Beverage

* Personal Care & Cosmetics

* Apparel & Toys

* Architecture & Interior Design

According to Tito Tony: “There are so many business opportunities in the Philippines. What we lack are the entrepreneurs.”

Inspired by GK’s poverty-ending vision, I decided to venture 1.5 hours outside of Manila to the Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan. The Start-Up Business Camp did not promise too much: during the two weekends at the 35-hectare farm we mingled within an international group of interns, volunteers, entrepreneurs, GK village community members and new friends and learned how anybody is capable of making social impact with either an existing business or by creating a new social enterprise.

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Group exercise

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Social Entrepreneur Shanon Khadka presenting all business aspects of start-ups

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Antonio – “Tito Tony” – Meloto talking to the campers about his vision for the future of a better Philippines

The campers’ weekends were organized by two French volunteers and had a full schedule. The program included touring the farm, meeting social entrepreneurs who introduced their businesses, presentations and short seminars about all aspects of social enterprises, a talk with Tito Tony, meeting the local GK village community, various group and farming activities.

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The open cafeteria style eating area builds the heart of the Enchanted Farm

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Social Enterprise Plush & Play production area: local community titas handmake each toy

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Toys from Plush & Play

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Social Entrpreneur Tajen Sui demonstrates how the Peanut Butter for his enterprise “First Harvest” is made

If finding out new and exciting ways to get involved and making a difference in the lives of others sounds interesting to you, I encourage you join a Start-Up Business Camp and learn more about the incredible work Gawad Kalinga achieves at the Enchanted Farm. At Php 6,500, including board, lodging and transportation, the 4-day event is a steal.

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Start-Up Business Campers discusson round

Admittedly, by the end of day four I hadn’t learned 40 new names (at least not 40 I could remember). But I learned how to implement strategies within my own business to create social impact as well as found out how to start a new social enterprise. But most of all, I gained a new perspective on how the future of our country can be much brighter than today if we turn business ideas and dreams into social enterprise realities, work together and align our values with that one big end goal in mind: to end poverty in the Philippines.

GK Start-Up Business Camp

Next dates: October 17-18 & 24-25 | November 21-22 & 28-29

Rate: Php 6,500 (all-inclusive: board, lodging and transportation)

Website: https://gk1world.com/startup-camp

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Gkenchantedfarm

Address: GK Enchanted Farm, Angat, Bulacan

Email & Register: info@gkenchantedfarm.com

Phone: 0915-225 3363


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