Going Beyond Buzzwords: Filipino CEOs on Impact, Inclusivity, and Going Global

Global Filipinnovation

Is building a successful startup all about becoming a unicorn? What does becoming a unicorn even mean to the average entrepreneur? If anything, the pandemic has only revealed the real challenges businesses need to face.

Given recent changes in the business environment, Talino Venture Labs launched its first digital #TalinoTalks on August 27, 2021 with a panel of Filipino CEOs who’ve gone global to discuss the priorities, opportunities, and responsibilities of being an entrepreneur today.

Aptly named “Global Filipinnovation: Ingenuity Meets Impact,” the panel was a timely discussion on inclusivity and how businesses today can support the underserved and underrepresented. Featuring CEOs from the agriculture, sustainable fashion, and venture sectors, the speakers shared some hard truths and vital lessons to an audience of peers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

On this panel were Cherrie Atilano, Founding Farmer, President, and CEO of AGREA Agricultural Systems; Kat Chan, Executive Director of IdeaSpace and QBO Innovation Hub; Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, President and Founding Partner of Rags2Riches; and Winston Damarillo, CEO of Talino Venture Labs.  Here are some key takeaways from the conversation.

Impact is more than just a buzzword

In this day and age, impact—which goes hand-in-hand with innovation and inclusivity—goes beyond the communities entrepreneurs serve.

“The words impact, innovation, and inclusivity are demanding more responsibility and accountability from us, especially to the communities we work in, to our country, and to the global community,” Atilano shared.

“Responsibility and accountability require a lot of collaboration and collective action,” she added.

To build a potential “unicorn'', or that mythical billion-dollar enterprise that could leave a lasting impact at a global scale, Chan is encouraging entrepreneurs to go beyond the technology and think—obsess even—of the world’s biggest problems and come up with ambitious solutions to solve them.

“The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity,” Chan said.

“Many people think that launching an app is a one-size-fits-all solution that can solve a myriad of problems. Let’s also not forget the people who need to be taken care of,” said Atilano.

For Fernandez-Ruiz, one does not necessarily have to be a unicorn to solve big problems.

Of Rag2Riches, she said, “We aim to make an impact through the quality of our service and the products we create.”  This impact can also be felt in the uniqueness and authenticity of the stories the fashion brand shares with the world.

Inclusivity isn’t an add-on

Fernandez-Ruiz shared that inclusivity is not just a by-the-way and should be at the heart of innovation.

“There is no real innovation if the innovation doesn’t create impact, and if it’s not inclusive. If innovation does not lead to creating better lives for people and protecting the planet, then it does not make sense,” she said.

In the case of Talino, Damarillo shared that not only is the venture studio working to develop inclusive fintech solutions, it is also democratizing access to investment opportunities through the latest addition to its growth arsenal: equity crowdfunding.

“Solving the world’s biggest problems requires capital,” he noted. Through its equity crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder, Talino is giving global Filipinos the opportunity to invest in Filipino innovation at a very minimal cost.

“Because of equity crowdfunding, startups like us have become more transparent on why we do what we do,” he said. This in turn helps sharpen Talino’s focus.

Developing tech by and for Filipinos

As the pioneers of microfinance, microinsurance, and prepaid solutions, Damarillo is confident that Filipinos can achieve global acclaim in fintech.

“We know what the challenges of financial inclusion are because we’re living them.”

Coupled with “diskarte”, or that Filipino trait of making the most out of the resources available, Damarillo believes Filipino startups can truly be borderless.

“We can build solutions with Filipino talent and solve problems anywhere in the world. There’s no need to copy Silicon Valley in the Philippines. There’s a lot the Philippines can bring to Silicon Valley,” he said.

“We need to take pride in changing the narrative of who we are. We are not just the recipients of solutions—we ourselves are solutions,” added Atilano.

Let’s keep the conversation going. Learn more about the basics of equity crowdfunding, who can participate in it (either as a startup or as an investor), what’s in it for you, and how to get started. Join Talino’s virtual event on September 9, 6PM PST | September 10, 9AM PHT /SG. Get insights from our own equity crowdfunding journey through our Wefunder campaign. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the registration link.

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