This interview features Samantha Eala, the Founder of Seedibles.
How did you become a leading young entrepreneur?
I’ve always believed in the value of social entrepreneurship in marrying economic and social value. It provides a framework for humane and ethical ways of doing business. I co-founded Seedibles precisely for this reason — to attain food security in a sustainable way.
At Seedibles, we aim to eliminate food insecurity, especially in urban poor communities through household and community gardening. In the one year that we’ve been operating, we’ve been selected to be a part of the Global Good Systems Game Changers Lab 2021. We’re currently being supported by Singapore International Foundation to help scale up the enterprise and impact more lives.
Aside from this, I currently work on communications, partnerships, and innovations at USAID’s ReachHealth Project, the flagship family planning (FP) project of the U.S. government in the Philippines. I also do risk communications work for the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.
Before this, I graduated cum laude with a degree in Development Studies and a double minor in Development Management and Humanitarian Action from the Ateneo de Manila, where I assumed leadership roles, led university-wide projects, and debated competitively in the national and international scene.
Throughout college, I worked with various peoples' organizations across the Philippines in qualitative and quantitative research to improve their business value chain and financial systems.
What are the most pressing issues that concern Filipino entrepreneurs and how do you address these issues?
Based on my experience, the top 3 concerns of Filipino entrepreneurs would be ease of doing business, access to capital and infrastructure, and poverty and education.
In terms of ease of doing business, there’s a lot of red tape in terms of applying for business registration, processing tax, and other procedures. This, in itself, is a barrier for entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
For access to capital and infrastructure, there are a limited number of funders, grant-givers, and organizations that will mentor and fund small enterprises. Because of this, entrepreneurs find it difficult to raise more capital and scale up their businesses.
Lastly, in terms of poverty and education, Filipinos are raised to have an employee mindset. Once graduating from high school or college, we work hard to find jobs and climb the corporate ladder for the promise of a better position and a high salary. It provides job security and a steadier stream of income. While an entrepreneurial mindset can help us find better ways to meet market needs and potentially attain a better position in life, not everyone can afford to take the same risks and entrepreneurs do.
As a leading young entrepreneur, what characteristics are you looking for in a national and local government candidate? How would these characteristics enable the candidate to address the issues that you mentioned?
As a young entrepreneur, I’m looking for national and local candidates that will initiate and support legislation that will promote the Filipino entrepreneurial spirit. Aside from this, I hope that a candidate with a clean and proven track record will win this coming election.
As a leading young entrepreneur, what policies and programs do you want national and local government candidates to support? Which of these do you want to be prioritized?
In 2019, the Innovative Startup Act (RA 11337) was signed, promising to provide benefits and programs to develop the Philippine startup ecosystem. The Philippine Startup Development Program was initiated to support startups from the idea stage to expansion.
While there are existing programs from DICT, DOST, and DIT, I hope this can be rigorously implemented in the coming years. Business innovation, especially through social entrepreneurship, must be attained if we hope to promote our economy while meeting the needs of the most impoverished in the Philippines.
Should candidates with these characteristics and priorities succeed in #Halalan2022, how do you envision the Philippines and the lived realities of Filipino entrepreneurs in 6 years?
This 2022, I hope we can vote for candidates that commit to supporting young entrepreneurs. Through legislation, entrepreneurs can be better supported through policy changes that make doing business easier, increased funding for organizations that assist and mentor entrepreneurs, and an innovative educational system that promotes an entrepreneurial spirit. With enough support, I hope that even the most impoverished and marginalized can become entrepreneurs too.