(L to R) Finalist Michael Magno with El Nido Mayor Nieves Rosento, Ms Mariglo Laririt (Ten Knots Corporation) and Prof Damian Hine (UQ) (photo: M King)

El Nido’s Eco-Biz winners announced

Three winners and a runner-up were announced at the Eco-Biz Challenge Grand Final at El Nido, Palawan, Philippines, in January. The winners are Jonie Fernandez, Bryan Magnol and Ignacio Sayajon-Shyo and the runner-up is Sonia Yntas.

They were selected on the quality of their business ideas, which if successful, will have a positive impact on the environment and local economy.

Ms Kubi Follosco, from the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute and CCRES’s Strategic Coordinator in the Philippines, facilitated the Grand Final event. El Nido’s Mayor Nieves Rosento gave a rousing speech and presented the winners with cheques of PHP 55,000 (approximately AUD$1,500).

Ms Mariglo Laririt, Head of Environmental and Sustainability Initiatives at El Nido Resorts and a member of CCRES’s Technical Steering Committee also gave a wonderful speech, having worked closely with the semi-finalists in the business skills workshop and beyond.

The Eco-Biz Challenge program included a series of creativity workshops across the barangays to help generate new business ideas. The most promising ideas were then submitted to the Eco-Biz Challenge from across the municipality. From 56 applications, we chose 28 semi-finalists and ran a three-day business skills workshop with them in Puerto Princesa.

From participants’ final proposals, we selected three winners and a runner-up. Selection was based on those ideas considered to be viable, where the prize money will make a difference to the business, where the business is likely to be viable in the short to medium term and have a positive environmental impact.

“All winners had great ideas that are likely to be successful,” said Professor Damian Hine, CCRES Business Development Program Project Leader from The University of Queensland.

“We can’t wait to see that success and the positive effect it can have on the whole municipality of El Nido.”

The winning business ideas included eco-charcoal (using coconut as an alternative to mangrove wood for cooking), sustainable horticulture (cultivating giant bamboo to reduce logging in native forests); organic fertiliser (using food waste from restaurants for processing into commercial products) and supplying ornamental native flowers to the tourism industry.

In the Philippines, the Eco-Biz Challenge is a collaboration with the El Nido Resorts (Ten Knots Development Corp.), Palawan State University, and the Marine Science Institute — University of the Philippines Diliman.

Eco-Biz in Selayar

We have also announced the Eco-Biz Challenge winners in our Indonesian pilot site Selayar where we had 143 applications and 53 semi-finalists engaged in the business skills training. Winning ideas in Selayar included educational ecotourism, sustainable aquaculture and a shop for products made from recycled plastic.

The Eco-Biz Challenge in Indonesia was co-hosted by our partner organization the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Dr Anna Phelan from the University of Queensland Business School is developing a six-month monitoring and mentoring program that will allow CCRES to track the progress of the winners and semi-finalists until the end of the CCRES project in 2018.

A part of the suite of CCRES tools, a ‘How to’ Eco-Biz Challenge kit that provides step-by-step guidelines for running an environmentally-focused business plan competition for small-scale entrepreneurs in coastal communities is in production.

Reflections from Philippines participants

“Joining the Eco-Biz Challenge was a good experience for me because I learned that it is important to think of the environment even in developing a business.” – Efren

“I learned that doing business is a step-by-step process. It is only now that I understand how important it is to study everything or all aspects of a business before actually creating one. I had headaches trying to complete the forms during the workshop in Puerto Princesa and I am sure that a lot of you also did but I learned from it.” – Ana

“It gave me an opportunity to explore business ideas. Environmental conservation has always been very important to me but before, I did not think that it could be used to create business opportunities. The Eco-Biz Challenge workshop made me realize that there are also businesses that can provide sufficient income and at the same time, promote environmental conservation.” – Bobby

“Although I already have a handicraft business, I realised that there are still areas for improvement. The Eco-Biz workshops made me re-evaluate the steps in my business. It also made me value the relations that I have because of my business. I would like to think that I have helped indigenous peoples who bring raw materials for my business because I provide them with an income but at the same time, I have to acknowledge that they have also helped me grow my business through the supply that they deliver.” – Sheba

“I still cannot believe that I won.  My idea about selling local orchids and ornamental plants was very simple. I did not think that it would win.” – Sonia, runner-up

More information: Prof Damian Hine

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