MANILA, Philippines — Coffee, coconut sugar, cassava chips, banana fries and everything nice from Central and Eastern Mindanao have just made waves in the marketplace exhibit and awarding ceremony for the recently concluded Philippine leg of a global online business plan competition based in the Netherlands.
Coffee and healthy banana-based French fries from Davao City and healthier coco-based sugarcane substitute from Panabo City in Davao del Norte province were just three of the Top 10 winning entries of the local leg of the international Business in Development (BiD) Challenge.
But the biggest winner of the night was a transportable farming mechanism from nearby Quezon town in Bukidnon province called Mobile Cassava Processing Unit. The machine provides higher income primarily to cassava farmers in Central Mindanao by giving them access to better processing facilities right at their doorsteps.
In the local BiD Challenge organized by Citibank, the Citi Foundation, and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the winning entry of Bukidnon entrepreneur Nathalie Arsonillo gave her the prestige to compete in the 2010 Women in Business Challenge of the Dutch BiD Network in Amsterdam slated on June 9.
In last year’s Philippine marketplace awarding for the previous BiD Challenge season, another entry from the same province became one of the 2009 finalists: corn coffee production benefitting the celebrated farmers of Sumilao town in Bukidnon - courtesy of Sumilao Agri-Enterprise (SAE) Inc. and its E-Farmers entry.
'Coffee for Peace,' fronting Matina Town Square in Davao City, and banana fries manufacturer, GUV Nutrifies of nearby Santa Ana District were announced as two of the 10 top winners on May 30 at the Rockwell Tent in Makati City during the PBSP-Citibank BiD Challenge Philippines marketplace and awarding.
Another winning entry from the Davao region was coco-sugar substitute maker 'Healthy Sweets' of Panabo town in Davao del Norte, rendering another winner for health-conscious sugar like the muscovado variety as those manufactured by previous BiD Challenge finalist Global Organic and Wellness Corporation (Glowcorp).
Also called 'Factory Goes to the Farmer,' - the winning mobile cassava processing entry will represent the Philippines and the rest of Asia to compete with two entries from Uganda to represent Africa and two other entries from Peru to represent Latin America, plus a special runner-up entry from Afghanistan.
The finalists are expected to “get access to a network of more than 36,000 like-minded entrepreneurs, coaches, and investors” from all over the world, as well as “win tailor-made advisory services worth €5,000 from UnitedSucces, the worldwide network for business women owners,” according to the Dutch BiD Network.
The final event for the 2010-2011 Women in Business Challenge will be held on June 9 at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
For the second year in a row when another Filipina has made it to the Netherlands competition, women entrepreneurs who have made a difference in combining profit and helping reduce poverty in the world’s developing nations will compete in the second edition of the BiD Women in Business Challenge this season.
Previously, costume jewelry designer Marianne Olano, of Baycrafts, based in Naga town in Camarines Sur province, won the special BiD Women in Retail Business Challenge plus €10,000 from Dutch financial group ING, for her designs made from indigenous and synthetic materials such as pearls, wood, fiber, seeds, crystals, and glass.
Also in the last BiD season international awarding in The Hague in the Netherlands, the partnership of Filipina entrepreneurs Maria Lourdes Molina, from Loot Fairy Toys, in Manila, and Maria Mina Lacson, of Cebu, became the finalists in the BiD Women in Business Challenge.
Specializing in eco-friendly and non-toxic toys for children called Ecobloks, their entry helped idle woodworkers and found use for wood scrap from makers of wooden slippers and furniture by transforming these materials into wooden toy building blocks made from scrap mahogany and pine wood — unpainted and lead-free.
In the 2008 BiD Challenge international marketplace, the Philippine winner and the country’s main entry to the international BiD competition in the Netherlands eventually won the grand prize in 2009.
'Rags2Riches,' the grand prize winner of the 2008 BiD international award, specialized in transforming scrap fabric into bags from the designs of renowned Filipino designers Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz, benefitting women weavers from the Payatas dumpsite in Quezon City as producers of these bags.
The new winner of the BiD Women in Business Challenge from Bukidnon represents the Sustainable Growth for Rural Venture Incorporated. (SUGRUVI) An assembler of cassava farmers, SUGRUVI consolidates and processes the farmers’ dry chips into granules before delivery as animal feeds to San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI).
During the markets trade fair at Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig on February 25, exhibitors revealed that cassava farmers from Bukidnon had benefitted as part of the value chain systems of SMFI, with their cassava supplies as the principal tapioca (sago) ingredient of San Miguel Pure Foods.
The company had also assisted farmers of sweet potato, corn, and sorghum from Cauayan, Isabela in Northeastern Luzon to Surallah, South Cotabato and the Zamboanga Peninsula in Mindanao.
Through the “agro-industrial integrated cycle” for its cassava and other food crop value chain system, the company had helped extract tapioca from the crops of cassava farmers to be made into chips and pellets for animal feeds and for alcohol ingredients as an alternate to molasses.
Tapioca starch is widely used as main food ingredient in pearl shakes, instant noodles, liquid seasoning, and monosodium glutamate, and as an alternate sweetener in fruit jams, canned fruits, and beverage drinks. (Mitch Confesor)