Eco-Biz semi-finalists at El Nido workshop (photo: L Izquierdo)

Eco-Biz training encourages budding entrepreneurs

Almost 80 semi-finalists in the CCRES Eco-Biz Challenge have undergone training, helping make their ecosystem-friendly business ideas a reality.

The business plan competition, running in our pilot sites El Nido and Selayar, aims to encourage and support aspiring entrepreneurs to develop, pitch and execute innovative business ideas that benefit the local economy as well as the environment.

Winners will be announced in January and receive a cash prize of IDR 15,000,000 (Indonesia) and PHP 55,000 (Philippines) - approximately AUD$1,500 - to bring their business ideas to life.

Dr Anna Phelan, from The University of Queensland, leads the competition in Selayar and said the communities from both sites welcomed the project and the participants really enjoyed it.

“It was also the first environmentally focused, small-scale, business plan competition that both communities have experienced,” Anna said.

She was pleased with the number of people who received the substantial, well-rounded business skills training. In Selayar there were 143 applicants with 53 semi-finalists selected. In El Nido, there were 47 applicants with 26 semi-finalists.

Semi-finalists participated in a training workshop, which included basic business skills, financial literacy and group activities, as well as pathways towards making their business idea a reality. In Selayar, the training also included a day of one-on-one mentoring.

Final proposal for the Eco-Biz Challenge were developed applying the knowledge delivered at the workshops.

Anna is developing a six-month monitoring and mentoring program that will allow the team to track the progress of the winners and semi-finalists until the end of the CCRES project in 2018. The program will map the impacts and outcomes of the Eco-Biz Challenge.

Through the Challenge, and the long-term monitoring program, Anna and the local teams will monitor and build the capacities of local entrepreneurs and their communities, with the hope of seeing economic improvement in Selayar and El Nido.

She was interested to see that among the business ideas entered from El Nido, the majority were agriculture focused, specifically piggeries. Horticultural solutions were the second most common ideas in the El Nido applications.

In Selayar, business ideas centering on fish and food processing were the most common, closely followed in terms of applications by waste management projects that would create something out of ocean plastic. The third most common theme from Selayar was ecotourism, and educational tourism.

“The other thing the Eco-Biz Challenge has done is furthered awareness of coastal ecosystem services, and got participating communities thinking about how the marine ecosystems and the ocean resources can be better captured for business solutions.”

Anna said the Eco-Biz Challenge had been a success and she was excited that it could be repeated in other locations. In 2018, the CCRES team is offering training in Indonesia and the Philippines that will empower other sites to deliver the Eco-Biz Challenge, encouraging business ideas which operate in harmony with coastal ecosystems.   

Watch a video on the Eco-Biz Challenge in Selayar

Semi-finalists of the CCRES Eco-Biz Challenge (photo: L. Izquierdo)

For more information, contact Dr Anna Phelan