Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation’s year-long Shell LiveWIRE program, which mentors tech startups and community enterprises in growing their businesses, recently awarded the 2022 grand winner to a local enterprise that invented the “first bamboo plantable toothbrush”. Shell LiveWIRE also recognized the accomplishments of the two other contenders, six community enterprises, and two more SMEs, all anchoring their pioneering products on sustainability, environmental preservation, and livelihood development.
Bambuhay, which addresses plastic pollution, deforestation, and climate change, met the top marks in the program’s criteria: viability, feasibility, environmental sustainability, local content, and integration compatibility with Pilipinas Shell’s supply chain. The other awardees were Pieza, an automotive digital marketplace that encourages sustainable transportation; and Suds, its fill-and-reuse cleaning pods help customers avoid the use of plastics.
Seeds for success
Serge Bernal, Pilipinas Shell’s Vice President for Corporate Relations, praised the winners and the participants for exercising the “creativity, courage, commitment, and character” required to start and support a business. He emphasized the energy company’s continuous support for “innovation that responds to the need of the local communities and generates employment for more Filipinos. We want to get more innovations off the ground to keep the Philippines moving forward.”
Since its launch in the country three years ago, Shell LiveWIRE has helped more than 3,600 innovators and business owners, equipped more than 30 tech startups and community enterprises, and created more than 400 local jobs. About 12 Shell LiveWIRE participating companies have also entered Pilipinas Shell’s supply chain as contractors, vendors, and suppliers.
Director Emmy Lou Delfin, Director of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)’s ICT Development Bureau, advised other startups who would want to join Shell LiveWIRE: “Have a passion. Believe in what you do. Survive, and just go through it.”
Shell Regional Performance Manager Divina de Leon noted “the courage of these individuals who started a business during uncertainty.” The accomplishments of the Shell LiveWIRE program winners were a reminder not to “forget the power of entrepreneurship. The Philippines is a country of innovators.”
Reducing plastics, carbon emission
Bambuhay founder Mark Sultan Gervasa started his company with a mere capital of P10,000 and recouped his investment on a massive scale with its current sales revenue of P26 million. The startup has also uplifted 68 families out of poverty while eliminating more than 1,100 tons of plastics, as of year to date. Merging the reduction of plastic pollution with bamboo technology began with one stark recognition. “About 16 billion pieces of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away annually around the world,” Gervasa said.
Bamboo was a natural choice to replace plastic because “it captures more carbon dioxide than any other plant. It is renewable; you plant only once and harvest for life. It is affordable, and produced naturally and ethically in the Philippines.” Shell LiveWIRE awarded Bambuhay P500,000 to scale its operations.
Cleaning product company Suds has also addressed the plastic problem by saving more than 800,000 plastic bottles and sachets from reaching the country’s landfills and oceans. Its concentrated cleaning pods replace the usual bulky cleaning materials that generate a lot of carbon emission during its manufacture and transport. Suds’ pods have their 60%-H20 composition dissolve after use and upon mixture with water, removing the need to throw them away as garbage. Suds Co-founder Jenan Magboo-Yuzon said that the polyvinyl alcohol in the cleaning material “is biodegradable, non-toxic, and has been used in cosmetics and medicine.”
Pieza, the web and mobile app that connects automotive retail shops and motorists, aims to keep the planet cleaner by encouraging car owners to purchase spare parts instead of buying new vehicles. .
Currently, Pieza has 50,000 automotive retail owners in its digital network and three fulfillment centers in Navotas, Antipolo, and Ortigas for its logistics services. It aligns with Pilipinas Shell’s diversity and inclusion values through “a genderless platform where we can serve not just the Baldos but also the Marias,” said Pieza CEO Jonecca San Pascual. “We also promote a decent work capacity for them to earn better.”
The way forward
Shell LiveWIRE also awarded P100,000 each to six community enterprises: Republic Junk, a trash-vocacy encouraging circularity by discarding trash for cash; Moto-in-Can, creator of Pinoy miniature art from recycled tin cans; Better Pilillia Women’s Handicrafts Cooperative, a women’s cooperative turning waterlilies into handicrafts; Bambusa de Oro, sustainable production purveyors who repurpose bamboo into home products; Golden Parauma Agriculture Cooperative (GPAC), a farming cooperative creating organic agricultural products; and Siembre Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Organization (SABRO), a group of farmers who produce, distribute, and sell banana chips beyond the scope of their community.
For the first time, Shell LiveWIRE chose the Tech Startup Sponsor’s A-List and extended the acceleration program to two rising stars: Carbonamics, producers of fuel-grade ethanol from carbon dioxide; and Blitzkrieg, pioneering in the early detection of diseases in livestock with their breakthrough animal test kits.
Carbonamics won the Benita and Catalino Yap Foundation (BCYF) Innovation Award which Shell LiveWIRE supports in its long-standing commitment to empowering Filipino small and medium enterprises, The BCYF recognizes excellence in visionary innovation in business and enables participating businesses to expand their markets, upgrade their systems, and bring about positive transformation in their communities. Information to join the 2023 BCYF Innovation Awards can be obtained by emailing email@example.com.
Joining DICT Director Delfin and Ms. Delgado in the LiveWIRE panel of judges were Rey Abilo, Pinas Shell Chief Financial Officer; Sebastian Quiniones Jr., Executive Director, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc.; Carlo Delantar, Co-founder and Partner of venture capital firm Core Capital; and Juancho Jimenez, Senior Associate of investment company Openspace Ventures.
For entrepreneurs who are interested to join Shell LiveWIRE 2023, you can register through the following link: www.shell.com.ph/ShellLiveWIRE