Business Mentor Notes: Auie Anatalio is a social entrepreneur in Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm. She is also a teacher at School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED), the first Farm Village University in the country. Inspired by Gawad Kalinga’s vision to end poverty for 50 million families by 2024, her vision is to build social enterprises that will uplift, sustain and spice up the lives of many.
From crafting marketing plans to planting Siling Labuyo- at 21, I left my glamorous corporate job to become a full time Social Entrepreneur at Hot Papa Chili, a social enterprise in Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm, Angat Bulacan.
After graduating from college, the logical thing to do is to follow the path the universe has set for me: get a well-paying job, perform well, get promoted, buy a house, car and insurance, and build a happy family. Then fantasy turned into reality. I landed a corporate job that gave me tons of opportunities to travel, showcase my strengths and meet people from different walks of life. Life was awesome. Then one day, I was working at my desk, with the whole view of the city. My whole life flashed before me. I already knew what will happen. I already knew what the universe has in store for me. The idea and awareness did not excite me. I felt empty.
Then go I searched, dedicating my weekends volunteering to various NGOs and programs. It took a while for me to find what my soul was looking for: Social Entrepreneurship. By definition, Social Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of an opportunity to create pattern-breaking social change regardless of the resources you currently control.
As the concept of Social Entrepreneurship was foreign to me, it was quite a challenge in the beginning. I did not leave the comforts of my job right away. Being a part of a Social Enterprise does not mean you have to give up everything. Anyone can start by being aware, promoting social enterprises, and sharing it to others. In my case, I started by researching and immersing myself to various social enterprises in the farm like Bayani Brew, First Harvest, Plush and Play, Goldenduck, Kabutehan, Karabella, Kayumanggi Organics, Red Carpet, Dairy Yard, Harlika, Ambension, Palamigan Co and many more. I learned that thriving social enterprises have social mission integrated in their value chain.
The author Autie Anatalio standing 3rd from the right
Although pursuing a social enterprise does not guarantee a comfortable life, it promises a life of hope and purpose. I don’t have a lot of material resources to begin with, but I was blessed with youth and time. So I walk by faith.
Today, it became my mission to spice up the lives of Filipino farmers by showcasing the chilies of the Philippines, producing well-balanced, all-natural and Proudly Pinoy chili products! Together with Chilli Heads Philippines, Project Labuyo movement aims to revive the indigenous Siling Labuyo, which has been disappearing in our markets. The native Siling Labuyo are smaller variants of red peppers with higher levels of heat compared to the common chili variants in the market that originated from Taiwan. We believe that showcasing our own is not only a competitive advantage, but also a great way to promote and preserve our cultural food systems.
Moreover, it has been a crazy and awesome ride and here are life lessons I am grateful to share:
1 You cannot do it alone
And even if I can, I wouldn’t. Social Entrepreneurship is a way of life, a journey that is meant to be shared. I am beyond blessed to start this journey with my sister, Alyssa and business partner, Martin Nunga. We met April 2015 at an intensive business camp in GK Enchanted Farm.
For all aspiring social entrepreneurs, I highly recommend the farm’s monthly business camp as it paved way for me to discover the true meaning of social entrepreneurship. Likewise, the camp introduced me to the most inspiring group of social entrepreneurs and mentors, the prettiest hard working Nanays, the hottest most talented Tatays and the most diligent School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) scholars.
Just like any life journey, being a social entrepreneur is not a walk in the park. But because of them, it becomes less difficult, it becomes worth it. The truth is, it’s not really just about me helping other people. It is also about them helping me, by giving me a reason and purpose to live.
2 Start with why
Starting a social enterprise or any kind of business can be very exciting and overwhelming at first. Moreover, there will be days when rainbows and sunshine can turn to darkness and rainy days. When this time arrives (and it will), your WHY and your purpose will help you go through it. If your only reason is to make lots of money so you can buy gigantic houses and fancy cars, do not even bother starting it. Money alone is not enough reason to stay strong on rainy days.
3 Move fast, fail fast, and learn fast
Many people believe that the best time to start a business is when you already have a mountain of resources to do it. However, this is not true in my case. As a start-up, one of the many things that I am thankful for is that I started with limited resources at hand. This is because with little experience in handling a business, I encountered a lot of challenges and failures starting up. If I had a million during my ideation stage, I would probably end up in debt today. More importantly, working with limited resources also forced me to be creative and resourceful, and to do best with what I have.
4 Serve… everything will follow
Further, I realized that the true requirement in pursuing a social enterprise is passion, purpose and the willingness to serve. Serve your customers, serve your employees, and serve for God and country. I can attest to this: serve first, and you will be surprised on what life can do for you.
5 Dream, then build
Dream and dream big. Because a Social Entrepreneur is not only dreaming for himself, but also for others. The future of our nation rests in our hands. I strongly believe that it is about time that we start dreaming and building global Filipino brands that will exhibit inclusive growth. If we do not respond to opportunities, we will be a nation of importers. We need to realize that today is the perfect time. The world is ready for us. Let us not keep them waiting.
I usually start my mornings reading reflections. Not so long ago, I came across one of the most beautiful sermons about greatness: Greatness is about authentic service. Greatness is dying to self so that others may live. Ironic, because the moment I realized what it meant, I never felt more alive.
”Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”- Martin Luther King