Harnessing business solutions to social ills
While many of us are aware of the usefulness of recycling solid wastes, we take for granted other things we throw away, such as food.
The agrofood industry, in particular, was one sector that local social enterprise CarbonCycle Processing Inc. set its sights on two years ago; since then it has steadily helped eliminate waste materials produced by this industry’s companies by turning them into animal feed.
“CarbonCycle was [established] with the mission to be a sustainable company specializing in the recycling of carbon-based materials,” says CEO and founder Dale Franco Llentic. “The company’s initial strategy was to penetrate big agrofood factories and bid for waste materials from these companies and recycle them.”
Their first clients, continues Llentic, were Del Monte and Heineken.
They collected cherry drums and pineapple pulp from the former, and spent grain from the latter, both of which they recycled into feeds for use of dairy farmers starting last year.
CarbonCycle also gets scrap items from steel-drum manufacturer Mindanao Container Corp., which they use to make charcoal ovens.
They work closely as well with Jacobi Carbons, a global company which operates here in the country as a manufacturer of coconut charcoal activated carbon.
Based in Cagayan de Oro City, CarbonCycle was established by Llentic, a veterinarian with expertise in farm waste, together with a few of his high school batchmates with engineering backgrounds.
Since they started, Llentic says he has seen awareness grow among the farmers that they work with.
“They’ve seen how waste materials can be recycled and used to improve their productivity,” Llentic says. “We’ve also shown them the benefits of using balers and charcoal ovens made from recycled scrap.”
Such efforts are what won CarbonCycle the top spot in the recent BPI Sinag, BPI Foundation’s annual business challenge initiative for social enterprises.
Now on its fourth year, BPI Sinag chose 10 awardees based on their businesses’ social impact, scalability and replicability, sustainability, competitive advantage, and financial performance, as well as the overall commitment of the team behind such enterprises, says Maricris San Diego, executive director of BPI Foundation.
The other awardees are: Junk Not Handicraft, a small-scale brand that produces creative furniture from upcycled materials; Palamigan Co., a company which created a freezing system that uses the brine immersion cooling technique, providing a more affordable alternative for ice-based businesses; Saret Organic Farmville, a social, inclusive agri-enterprise which produces cacao bars, powdered cacao, turmeric and cayenne, among others, by working with poor upland farmers and indigenous tribes in Bulacan; Uproot Aquaponics, a social enterprise that aims to end unemployment, malnutrition, hunger and poverty affecting over seven million Filipino children ages 5 years and below by introducing community-shared aquaponics to low-income communities;
Calaboo Dairyard, Inc., a social enterprise that valorizes the highly nutritious milk of grass-fed carabaos; Cocoasenso Corp., a business that established a network of medium-scale coconut processing centers where coconuts are purchased directly from local farmers who are employed in primary processing; Edaya Cordillera, “a creative collaborative bamboo design/art project to accelerate social innovation and promote the rediscovery of the value of local Asian traditions in a global context”; Got Heart, a platform for developing social enterprises among various grassroots communities in the Philippines to help them become a “ SHInDig (sustainable, holistically developed, independent and dignified)”; and Ekolife, a social enterprise operated and managed by Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives, Inc. involved in packaging and promoting eco/agrotour destinations that involves the OFWs and their families as both service providers and customers of the tourism industry.
The top five awardees received P500,000 cash grants, and the other five, P100,000. They will all also undergo specialized mentorship to advance their businesses.
Prior to their awarding, these social enterprises underwent a two-part boot camp organized by BPI Foundation’s implementing partner, Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development.
During this incubation phase, the social entrepreneurs were trained on business planning, operations management, finance, marketing, and human resources.
With their winnings and learnings, Llentic says CarbonCycle will be venturing into the renewable energy business to tackle the problem of energy dependency and deficiency by designing, constructing, and operating solar concentrators for agricultural processing using scrap materials.
“We believe the future will be dominated by renewable energy as fossil fuels become more depleted and expensive. We also believe in decentralizing energy infrastructure to bring inclusive growth to the countryside,” says Llentic.
Supporting such enterprises as CarbonCycle, says San Diego, reinforces BPI Foundation’s commitment to sustainable nation-building and wealth-creation.
“BPI Foundation created BPI Sinag to help foster economic growth in the country by supporting businesses with the triple bottom line—people, planet, and profit,” she adds.
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