MAKATI CITY – With the aim of revitalizing the strawberry farming industry, a young Cordilleran entrepreneur was awarded as one of the national finalist of the BPI Sinag Business Challenge held at the Alphaland Tents, Alphaland Southgate Tower, Makati City last Tuesday.
Kevin Philip Degay Gayao, proponent of the startup company Agritech Mutual Laboratories – Agmula Inc., emerged as one of the 10 finalist of the first BPI Sinag Business Challenge, a national business plan competition that aims to empower young entrepreneurs with a social mission.
Gayao’s business plan has undergone three screening process involving over 10 judges who are social entrepreneurs, social development experts, marketing, and finance specialists. He was the only finalist that is based in Northern Luzon.
His business plan involved developing the first-ever Seedling Factory and Plant Bank in the Cordillera region with the goal of helping farmers get access easy access to seedlings, initially strawberry runners, to help increase their productivity.
“The growth of the strawberry industry in Benguet has been significantly weighed down by low quality strawberry runners that result to substantially lower production. By making available to our farmers reasonably priced runners, the most important input in strawberry farming, we ensure that there will be an increase in output while keeping costs down. This means higher income for our farmers as well as more berries for strawberry processors and fruit vendors. This can also indirectly sustain tourist arrivals and increase government’s tax revenue,” said Gayao.
There were over 200 entries submitted across the country. The first screening involved selecting the top 40 business plan who will attend the 5-day intensive business boot camp.
Gayao, together with the representatives from the other 39 semi-finalists, has undergone a 5-day intensive business boot camp conducted by the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSENT) at the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. After the boot camp, they were required to submit a revised business plan which was the basis for selecting the top 10 finalists who delivered their 7-minute pitch last Tuesday.
Each of the finalists will receive a P50,000 grant to help fund their business endeavors. Aside from the grant, the finalists will also receive continuing mentorship from ACSENT and invitation to various business networking events hosted by the BPI Foundation. They were also awarded a plaque of recognition from the BPI Foundation.
Asked about his advice to budding entrepreneurs, Gayao said “I suggest that you start from your own experiences. Develop your observations skills and take note of the various problems or inconveniences that you experience every day. After identifying a particular problem or inconvenience, do your own research, seek for new perspectives, and ask questions on how to solve this problem. If you found your solution and believe it can become a viable business, have the guts to pursue it. Funding will not be an issue if you have a great idea and the persistence to make it into a real business.”
The BPI Sinag Challenge is a project of BPI Foundation in collaboration with the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSENT) and BPI Family Ka-Negosyo. The challenge aims to discover and support young people with business ideas or who have started social enterprises that have the potential to solve pressing social problems. By THOMAS GEORGE L. BUMBY