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Students put winning business plan into action

/ 01:05 AM March 23, 2012

University of Cebu-Banilad students win the “I am a Changemaker” Social Enterprise Business Plan Competition. Contributed photo

CEBU CITY—They only wanted to win a business plan competition and bring home the top prize of P100,000.

But after realizing their dream, four Cebu students found out that what they had was the beginning of something big.

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“The plan has to be implemented, and it has to be implemented well because this is a social enterprise, a business that will help people,” says student Jezreel Ezer Archival of the University of Cebu-Banilad (UC) business administration.

British Council contest

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Archival, accountancy students Lloyd Stephen Orlanes and Sheryl Benitez and UC graduate Jean Millor joined the prestigious “I am a Changemaker,” a social enterprise business plan competition for prospective young entrepreneurs conducted by the British Council last year.

They emerged as one of four groups of winners from among over 100 nationwide. Each winner received P100,000 and an opportunity to establish their own business with a partner community.

The group’s business plan, called “Seeds of Hope,” was designed to provide livelihood opportunities for 20 women in Barangay (village) Umapad, Mandaue City by extracting oil from

Mango oil can be used in beauty products. PHOTO BY CRIS EVERT B. LATO, INQUIRER VISAYAS

mango seeds.

“We were trying to think of a product that will represent Cebu—a product that will be socially and economically relevant,” says Millor, 21.

A visit to the Bureau of Investments yielded research that mentioned the viability of extracting oil from mango seeds or mango kernels.

Oil and butter, extracted from mango, are rich in vitamins and minerals that are used as ingredients for beauty and cosmetic products.

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“We learned that the peel and seed of the mango constitute 50 percent of the fruit, and they are just discarded after separating the flesh,” says Millor.

These wastes reportedly make up 75 percent of the seed weight. An average mango kernel contains 8 to 15 percent extract potential (both oil and butter).

The fact that Cebu is home to the largest mango processing companies inspired them more to finish the business plan. They included the companies as partners in their project.

Benitez, a third-year accountancy student, says the project addresses environmental and socioeconomic issues.

He says the project hopefully will minimize the amount of garbage thrown in Barangay Umapad, Mandaue City’s dump.

Mango kernels

The women of Barangay Umapad, on the other hand, will earn money by drying mango kernels and selling them at a particular price to the group.

Another option is for the women to do the entire processing themselves—from drying to extracting—with supervision from the group, according to Orlanes.

Orlanes says the oil can then be sold to manufacturing companies of beauty products. The Filipino company Gandang Kalikasan Inc., which produces organic personal care products under the Human Nature brand, has initially expressed interest in the oil.

“We love how this project has made us help people by not making them depend on us. The project pushes them to work for what they will earn,” says Orlanes.

Archival, 19, says winning the competition has made them think about what they want to do after graduation.

Empowering

Oil can be extracted from mango seeds, which are considered waste by many mango-processing companies in Cebu. PHOTO BY CRIS EVERT B. LATO, INQUIRER VISAYAS

“We are no strangers to business plan writing because we have participated in various contests where we help people improve their businesses. This competition enables us to build our own business. That is very empowering and at the same time very challenging,” says Archival.

The group is being mentored by UC professors Christopher Biore and Judy Ann Ferrater.

Ferrater says they will guide the students in establishing their enterprise to ensure that the objectives of the project are achieved.

Biore adds that it is inspiring to see his students doing something practical and results-oriented for the community.

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TAGS: Business, Cebu, Entrepreneurship, mango, Philippines – Regions, Students
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