Jacinto and Lirio: From Pest To Best
Posted by melanie on 05-04-2011
Many Millennials around the world are redefining the traditional path to a career (graduate college, apply like crazy, and then get to work). Instead, they are creating their own jobs — and in some case their own companies — based on the social issues and personal interests they’re passionate about. That’s what happened for four students from the Philippines. Youth Advisory Board member Jacelle Soleil Manara shares the story of how they took a local environmental problem and transformed it into a thriving business…
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Jacinto and Lirio: From Pest To Best
What comes after college? In a predominantly proletariat business arena, like the one in the Philippines, it is a given that one must earnestly apply for a job immediately after graduation. But this “tradition” was defied by a group of young, inspiring students. As college seniors in 2009, Noreen Baustisa, Ryan Pelongco, Patricia Lalisan, and Anne Krystle Mariposa were tasked to do a feasibility project in the Business Accelerator Program of the Ateneo de Manila University’s John Gokongwei School of Management. That project resulted in the students skipping the job hunt and starting their own business.
“We want to make change but we want to do it in a lasting way,” explains Noreen, J & L’s research, development, and social entrepreneurship director. Armed with strong dedication to be social agents of change, they saw the potential of utilizing indigenous materials like water hyacinths for a viable social enterprise.
Because We Care
The dreaded water hyacinths have long been infesting the Philippine waters causing floods and increasing pollution. This is where Jacinto & Lirio (From the Spanish translation of hyacinth and lilies) comes into the picture. As a Filipino social enterprise, J & L innovatively utilizes plant leatherettes from water hyacinths to make bags and accessories. “Jacinto & Lirio was born because we saw the potential of water hyacinths as high-end products for the fashion industry, while being part of an active initiative to clear up lakes and rivers,” says Noreen.
In 2009, J & L won the grand prize among the 33 participants of the Business Development (BiD) Challenge Philippines – bringing home a business expansion package and a trip to The Netherlands to compete in the prestigious Global BiD Challenge.
As the company expands, it aims to include other areas with waters highly proliferated by water hyacinths.
Defying the Status Quo and Redefining Lives
“We saw the opportunity of this business to change lives. More than value creation, water hyacinths also provide a source of livelihood for the marginalized communities who transform their stalks into sheets,” says Noreen.
Aiming to help improve people’s lives, J & L produces stylish, high-quality bags. They increase the livelihood of communities that are empowered through dignified and meaningful work. At the same time, they believe in educating consumers to be active builders of the economy while protecting the natural environment.
Noreen adds, “We want to redefine what it means to buy luxury.” J & L shows that luxury is more than just a status symbol. The company believes that the fashion industry transcends aesthetics and can also empower, educate, and inspire people.
About Jacelle Soleil Manara
Soleil is studying Mass Communications, with specialization in Development Communication. She believes that as a media practitioner you become the brains of the nation; as a development communicator you become the heart of the nation. She aspires to be part of her country’s (Philippines) growth and development. Balancing her studies and fulfilling her obligations as the President of Environment Society in her College has always been a challenge to her. Soleil is a bookworm and reads anything from Darwin to Wilde. She is also courting writing and is afraid she might up end up marrying it.