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PHL’s social enterprise, 5 others in Asia feted for ‘brewing ‘peace’

EVEN small-scale businesses can make a big different in society as shown in the recent success of six winning enterprises across Asia, including the Philippines, feted in the inaugural IIX-N-Peace Innovation Challenge 2015.

Coffee For Peace (CFP) is a local business that uses a triple-bottom line formula to brew “livelihood and peace” for more than 800 families in the high-conflict zone of Mindanao.

It joined other awardees from other countries, including Afghanistan’s Arzu Studio Hope, Indonesia’s Wonder Women, Myanmar’s Koe Koe Tech, Nepal’s Higher Ground, and Pakistan’s Buksh Energy.

CFP Founder and CEO Joji Felicitas-B. Pantoja said peace could not be built on empty stomachs, but rather through cooperation of all the people concerned and stakeholders.

“Coffee for Peace empowers communities through an inclusive business model, which enhances community relationships, peace, and security,” he said.

This social enterprise started when its founders from Mindanao, Dann and Joji, saw that “there had to be sustainable economic solutions to go hand-in-hand with their peace work.”

It engages the farmers—80 percent of whom are women—and pays them a fair price for their coffee.

The environment is utilized for planting trees with a dual impact: Helping the farmers maximize their productivity levels courtesy of the critical shade cover that expedites coffee plant growth, and creating a spillover “green footprint” in the region. Last, the enterprise acts as a channel for dialogue for at-risk individuals to avoid conflict by building awareness on peace and reconciliation through targeted training and community-building programs.

Pantoja said they are not just empowering the farmers with a sustainable livelihood, but also instilling in them their role in affecting change in the society.

The “prevention better than cure” approach of CFP, he added, redefines the peace building narrative in the Philippines by establishing inclusive peace—and economic growth—from the grassroots.

Like this organization, the other five winning enterprises in the region shows a wide range of positive social impact, from generating sustainable livelihoods and fair-trade agriculture, to women and youth empowerment, and leveraging mobile technology that delivers access to basic health care and renewable energy, among other ripple benefits to the communities.

“We are inspired and humbled by the work of these six game-changing winners, who are leveraging the power of technology and innovation to grow their business and scale their impact, all while building sustainable and inclusive peace in their communities,” said Durreen Shahnaz, founder and chairman of Impact Investment Exchange Asia.

She lauded the potential of their innovative and replicable business models than can change millions of lives in Asia and beyond.

The six enterprise-winners presented last week their solutions for peace and shared their impact story at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The IIX-N-Peace Innovation Challenge 2015 is an Impact Enterprise (IE) contest aimed at accelerating Asia’s inclusive peace building agenda by identifying and supporting IEs working to empower women, engage youth, and catalyze innovation and technology in a scalable and sustainable way.

IIX’s mission is to impact 100 million lives by 2020 through impact investing, or linking development with finance.

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