Saturday, March 2, 2024

Batangas startup that connects farmers online wins Shell PH contest

A solution that creates a digital ecosystem for farmers and agricultural cooperatives to possibly increase the amount of their produce is this year’s big winner in 2021 Shell LiveWIRE, a global flagship program of Shell that promotes local entrepreneurship and develops local economies.

The top three finalists for the Shell LiveWIRE 2021 competition (from left) Noreen Bautista of Panublix from Iloilo City, an online marketplace for indigenous weavers; Henry Sison who heads Agro-DigitalPH, which assists farmers and fishermen in establishing an online presence; and Prince Ang of SACHI-Group Inc., a Bulacan manufacturer of environmentally friendly products

Batangas-based startup Agro-DigitalPH, which can help strengthen food security especially in a pandemic, bagged the grand prize of P500,000.

The runners-up were technology startups that also promote livelihood and support sustainability:  Panublix from Iloilo City, an online marketplace for indigenous weavers; and SACHI-Group Inc., a Bulacan manufacturer of eco-friendly materials.

All three companies were chosen from among 200 initial contenders to present their ideas and innovative enterprises during Shell LiveWIRE’s Final Pitch Day on November 16, as part of the Shell LiveWIRE Acceleration Program.

Henry James Sison, founder of grand prize winner Agro-DigitalPH, aims to create a trust-based digital food value chain, assisting farmers and fishermen in establishing online presence through cooperatives and associations. Together, these sectors can develop a digital food system that puts a premium on trust and transparency.

Meanwhile, Panublix is a sourcing platform connecting designers and brands with Philippine tropical textiles. Based on the Hiligaynon word “panublion” which means “heritage,” it prepares rural artisan enterprises for the e-commerce market.

“We see the undeniable synergies of bringing Pilipinas Shell’s farming and fishing communities into Agro-Digital. Establishing this realizes an authentic seed-to-fork system that can be piloted and perfected within the confines of Pilipinas Shell and eventually replicated in the market at large,” Sison said.

According to founder Noreen Bautista, the startup intends to “create an exchange of heritage with crafters, textile makers, and designers because the whole global fashion and design industry is really looking for sustainability. We hope Panublix can be that gateway to provide that opportunity, especially to our rural artisans.”

Finally, pioneering sustainability and plant-based packaging solution SACHI-Group Inc. manufactures and distributes eco-friendly and compostable biodegradable packaging materials like Cassava BioBags.

Its CEO and co-founder Prince Ang maintained that their success in providing alternative materials can help “develop a different end-of-life stream for these combustibles. Then we can be able to really solve the plastic problem in the Philippines.”

The panel of judges during the Final Pitch Day were composed of Sebastian Quiniones, PSFI executive director; Reynaldo P. Abilo, Pilipinas Shell vice president for finance; Edward Paul Apigo, senior science research specialist of DOST-PCIEERD; Frances Loraine Valdez, DICT Division Chief of ICT Eco-System Development; and Amarit Charoenphan, chief transformation officer at Enserv Holding.

Shell LiveWIRE tapped the following six promising community enterprises to join its program, with each taking home a cash grant of PHP100,000:

  • SIMCO a manufacturer of home, personal, and sanitary items;
  • Coron Natural Farm, a conservation for organic agriculture and a learning site;
  • KURE, which recycles and transforms plastic to new products like bags;
  • RCM Oil and Eco Solutions, a waste management company that collects and converts used cooking oil to other forms of energy;
  • Seeds and Scale Vegetable Farm, a modern, innovative way of farming green leafy vegetables; and
  • Solchi Solutions, a provider of renewable energy solutions

“Shell LiveWIRE will remain committed to communities through entrepreneurship, innovation, and employment. We believe that there is a real need for innovation and collaboration to work hand in hand in solving social and economic issues,” said Quiniones.

“To the success stories of our enterprises and their dedication to act for the community needs, we have proven that despite uncertainties, like this current pandemic, Filipinos will continue to strive and move forward.”

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