Building Businesses for Better Lives with Asia Game Changer Nanette Medved-Po
by Steph Bucag
15 November 2022, Manila— No matter how far the globe has changed for the better, social issues persist and threatened its achieved progress. Despite these setbacks, social entrepreneurs do not cower from these and face these challenges head-on with their passion, conviction, and creativity. Moreover, their determined and relentless efforts to confront and tackle urgent societal problems with their ideas have inspired several establishments to do the same. Asia Game Changer Awardee Nanette Medved-Po, the founder of HOPE and Plastic Credit Exchange, embodies the needed qualities and mindset of a social entrepreneur. With her comprehensive work in education, agriculture, and the environment, she received the 2022 Asia Game Changer Award last October 2022 in New York.
To commemorate her deserved milestone and share her experience and the best sustainability practices, Asia Society Philippines, in partnership with Manila House, hosted an exclusive dialogue “Business For Good With Nanette Medved-Po” at the Rizal Room in Manila House, BGC.
Access to education was the first trigger that led to HOPE’s first initiative, HOPE In A Bottle. “Our product is not a bottle of water, it’s the idea of hope,” Medved-Po declared as she answered a question about sustainability trends. She recounted the organization’s timeline, from constructing classrooms, providing farmers with livelihood opportunities, and manufacturing the world’s first boxed water. She also outlined their extensive partners, spanning from local government units (LGUS) to international corporations. With these breakthroughs, it was certified to be the first B Corporation in the Philippines.
Restoring our ecosystem was another pressing issue that Nanette and her constituents decided to confront. “We did not want to be a standard setter, but it turns out that there was no standard in the world.” Medved-Po lamented. As she mentioned, the Philippines was the third worst offender in ocean pollution, but it does not mean that our country cannot generate solutions. Drawing from their success with HOPE, Plastic Credit Exchange was formed to advocate plastic neutrality and responsibility.
Under the Plastic Credit Exchange, they launched their Aling Tindera program, as a solution to the Philippines’ sachet economy. The project was a solid waste management collection system partnered with the usual Filipino sari-sari store. It began as a women-led initiative to promote sustainability and gender empowerment, but it has then expanded to involve different actors. She also discussed their Net Zero Plastic Waste, which is a goal for companies to be 100% accountable for their plastic footprint. She listed corporations such as Century Pacific, Colgate, Palmolive, and Datu Puti as promisors of plastic clean-up and reduction.
Medved-Po asserted, in her conclusion that entrepreneurs should rethink their Business-as-Usual model, as being driven by profit can narrow their focus and prospects. She advocated amending the meaning of success and revising their methods of value creation, “If somebody comes up with a product that seriously invests in nation-building and social good, the market will reward it.”
Greg Moral-Perez, Director of xchange, was invited to react with a reflection on social entrepreneurship and collaboration. She commended on how HOPE is a demonstration of a business that is true to its objectives, and how it can be a point of inspiration for others, “Everyone is a changemaker ⎯ you and I. We can start at the bottom and a few years later, people will know we can do it.” Furthermore, she assured that an entrepreneur’s perseverance and openness will set the groundwork for their enterprise, which then time will gradually reward.
As the program ended with encouraged and uplifted minds, Nanette Medved-Po’s presentation delivered insight into sustainable business practices, and how these can provide positive spillovers that would reach even the grassroots. Her talk evoked an entrepreneurial spirit that would challenge the norm for small businesses and large multinational corporations alike. May these renewed perspectives help us reassess ourselves and lead us to how we can have a lasting social impact on our community.