Inside the Mind of a Social Entrepreneur
A reflection on the inspiring stories of Fab & Erika of Plush and Play & Karabella Dairy.
I entered the MBA program of DLSU with the goal of improving my leadership and management skills as part of my career development. I was looking for things that I should stop doing, to start doing and continue doing to become a better leader for my organization, while also gaining that much need knowledge in case I decide to manage my own business in the future.
In my two years on the program, I was able to get a deep dive on diverse real-world management scenarios and be accustomed to generating courses of actions to solve them. There were instances where a professor, student or a speaker shares something that made me want to reflect on my current ways and approach on managing people. But once in a while, there are shared stories like the ones from Fabien and Erika Courteille, that is really an eye-opener because it touches on broader perspectives, like the true meaning of work and life itself.
Truly Inspiring Stories
After working for several years in the corporate world, Erika realized that it was not her real calling because a lot of her values were really challenged. She thought that there was much more to work than meeting quotas, and it was when she left her sales job where she found meaningful work through Gawad Kalinga’s GK Enchanted Farm. It is in this social entrepreneurship setting that she was able to conceptualize what is now known as Karabella Dairy, a social enterprise that offers fresh and natural dairy products utilizing local resources, particularly carabao milk. She founded Karabella in the hopes of creating much needed livelihood for farmers, creating wider opportunities to upscale and eventually sustaining it.
Like Erika, Fab was inspired by how Gawad Kalinga was utilizing local resources to uplift the lives of the people that needed them the most. He left his graduate studies in France for a volunteer work in GK Enchanted Farm in Bulacan. Through his immersion with the local community, he saw what the families had to endure just to earn a living. How the mothers that mostly had sewing jobs, were getting underpaid by the textile companies they worked for. This motivated Fab to startup Plush and Play, a social enterprise that would make good use of the skillset of the local moms in creating stuff toys to generate income and help eradicate poverty. With Fab’s vision and persistence, Plush and Play eventually became the first-ever Filipino-made toy that was brought-in by Toy Kingdom. And the rest as they say was history.
Stewards of Common Good
As I listened to the stories of Fab and Erika, I came to realize the immense passion they have in really wanting to make a difference in peoples’ lives. This passion fueled them to not give up even if the odds are against them because let’s face it, being involved in a social enterprise is very challenging financially. What is important to them is how their work transformed lives for the better. Now, if a Frenchman can dedicate his life and work to the Filipino people, why can’t we do it ourselves?
We as Filipinos should be the stewards of our own people, traditions, and values. However, we can see that even non-Filipinos believe in our power to effect change — it’s about time that we believe in ourselves as well.