Having experienced the longest urban battle in the Philippines, Shri Tahanie Macaumbao, Anna Zaaquira Boloto, and Mohammad Ali Baruang, senior high school students of Mindanao State University—Marawi Senior High School (MSU-MSHS), have always had the intention of building opportunities for their community. Especially in this time of pandemic where the struggle is utmost felt, they search for means on how they, as volunteers and advocates of positive transformation, can spark hope for their besieged home.
Enderun Colleges’ The Next Bright Idea, a business and design pitch competition, was the perfect avenue for these students to make their dreams come to life. Their business proposal Green by Design has impressed the judges because of the product’s viability and its potential in addressing existing and emerging problems within their community. As presented during the finals, Green by Design is a social enterprise that aims to address the proliferation of water hyacinth and waste pollution in Lake Lanao by converting these invasive species into an alternative low-cost, plant-based, compostable packaging.
The team from Marawi was declared the grand champion in the design pitch category and first runner-up in the business pitch category during the two-day grand finals. The esteemed panel of judges for the competition were Mr. Jose Magsaysay, Jr., Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Potato Corner; Mr. Juan Carlos Camara, Investment Associate of Navegar; Ms. Sheila Lobien, Chief Executive Officer of Lobien Realty Group; Dr. Larry Gamboa, Author and Founder of Think Rich, Pinoy; Ms. Pacita “Chit” Juan, Founder and Chair of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle; Mr. Russell Molina, Executive Creative Director of Seven A.D.; IDr. Chat Fores, Owner of Chat Fores Design Studio; and Arch. Stephanie Branquinho; Principal Architect of SpaceFabrik. The students competed against 106 teams from 43 schools nationwide.
What’s even more inspiring to these students’ journey were the challenges they overcame during the competition. Before the date of the finals, the students unexpectedly needed to transport themselves from Marawi to Iligan City because of issues on limited connectivity and power interruption. According to Macaumbao, “We [almost] lost hope. We thought we [wouldn’t] make it but because of our dedication and persistence, we tried our best to create a plan B. We were so glad [that] the director and administration of MSU-MSHS were very kind and supportive along the way and we were able to travel to Iligan City to make it to the finals.”
After their big win, the students plan to start implementing their business idea in Wato, Balindong. “We wanted to implement this as early as possible and we’re also hoping to partner with [our local government unit, local fisherfolks, and other non-government and private sectors who can support us,” said Boloto.
“It was such an amazing experience. We were so happy to share our story. Seeing other [students] who are passionately driven [creating business opportunities] inspires me to do better,” said Macaumbao. “We were able to reflect on the potential of our project and at the end of the day, we realized that this initiative is realistic and has a purpose. We should believe and invest in the potential of youth because they are the future of our nation.”
When asked what was their greatest lesson learned during the competition, the students only shared a short meaningful thought, “We learned that we need more [business] ventures that are not only centered in [producing] profit but also in creating hope and opportunities for other people. If this is the new goal of enterprises then we will have a bright future for our country.”