Achievements are always something worth celebrating.
But if that achievement is truly inclusive of others in it, well, that’s a different – and far more glorious – story.
Last week, I bought a nice checkbook folder (my checks were previously shorter, until the bank lengthened newly-issued ones to conform with that of other banks). It reminds me that we as Filipinos do not have to look so far abroad to find gorgeous fashion houses – for our own folks are every bit as capable of producing our own brand of haute couture. I myself find that houses such as Chanel and Gucci are superb and of quality (heck, I’d like a Gucci bag and wallet, myself); but that they are not the only nice ones out there – and where I come from, there’s a lot to offer, too.
And just as well, as ANTHILL Fabric Gallery provides sustainable livelihood and wealth creation opportunities to artisans while at the same time ensuring the continued existence of rich Filipino weaving traditions.
Based in Cebu, ANTHILL (short for “Alternative Nest and Trading/Training Hub for Indigenous/Ingenious Little Livelihood” [seekers]) is a consolidator of indigenous weaves from all around the country, encouraging these rich local traditions to be passed on from generation to generation, that they do not die out and our cultural heritage be preserved. The weaves are then stylishly incorporated into fashion and accessory items, such as scarves, bag tags, and custom-made skirts.
ANTHILL shows that endeavors can truly marry social good with big business – they need to be scalable in addition to being able to directly address a social problem. They were the big winner of last week’s Developmental Social Enterprise Awards, or DSE Awards, co-organized by the Benita & Catalino Yap Foundation and Isla Lipana & Co, the Philippine arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four accounting firms. (While I attended as a member of the Foundation last year, this year I attended as a nominee/semi-finalist for HABI Footwear – so proud!)
The DSE Awards celebrate social enterprises that truly have the idea of social development at its core. Here at The Daily You, we believe that authentic development is not limited to socioeconomic progress – it needs to be integral and holistic. A person who grows in wealth and position should also grow in awareness and service – in short, love. Otherwise it is not development at all.
(Read also: Our feature on EcoWEB, last year’s DSE Awards winner)
Last week’s social enterprises reinvigorated my flame for social enterprise. It was wonderful being with all these other organizations and change-minded individuals who remained kind and true on top of their lofty goals to end poverty or other pressing social issues in the country. They are radical businesspeople, yes – but they are loyal friends and family members first.
The five finalists were publicly announced halfway through the program, then the grand winner at the end. All five get a year’s mentoring from both BCYF and PwC, then the winner also gets a Php200,000.00 grant.
I like the name “ANTHILL”. Ants are, as we know, hard workers who live in colonies, multiplying their efforts when they are together. We are like those individual ants: we have our own hard work to do, and we co-exist with each other for the sake of a good world.
If we could have a million ANTHILLs in the Philippines alone, a million purposeful organizations working to effect true and holistic development, we can safely say that our children’s future is going to be a bright one. So often, big business has forgotten to be rooted, and ultimately seeks profit and the enrichment of its financial shareholders alone, that development is one-sided. Social enterprises like ANTHILL seek to ensure otherwise.
Of course, entrepreneurship is not for everyone, what more social entrepreneurship – though they ought to be one and the same. But everyone shops and consumes. So while I encourage us all to do so with producers who know to be rooted in awareness and service, we also encourage everyone to follow the example of social entrepreneurs and devote their lives to what they have been called to do – to live a life of true love, a truly good life where love is the answer and the core, where love of others takes precedence over love of self.
Then, given your own cues in life – your Life Kit – blaze your own unique trail. As Anya Lim, the founder of ANTHILL, mentioned in her acceptance speech, we are all winners. Awards do not mean one is better than the other: as long as you walk your path, the path you are called to take, then you are the victor. You will have done your best and reaped the best results.
(Read more: Be the first you, not the next someone)