World Vision’s Social Innovation Challenge aims to address community problems in PH

Jun Godornes, Resource Development Director of World Vision in the Philippines, Rommel Fuerte, Executive Director of World Vision in the Philippines, Gretchen Ho, World Vision Ambassador for Social Innovation Challenge,  Diane Romero, Executive Director of J. Amado Araneta Foundation, and John Aguila, Executive Producer and Host of CNN Philippines’ The Final Pitch.

World Vision is seeking out creative Filipinos to create the most meaningful solutions to some of the country’s overlooked community challenges.

The child-focused organization’s latest project, the Social Innovation Challenge, is allowing innovators all over the country the opportunity to compete for seed capital to fund ideas that address obstacles faced by Filipino communities.

For this year’s edition of the challenge, World Vision is putting the focus on two community problems: (Challenge #1) climate change effects on soil that hurt the livelihood of almost 1,000 farming households in Sogod, Cebu¸ a small upland barangay where almost 50 percent of the population depends on agriculture; and (Challenge #2) 500 out-of-school youth in Brgy. Bucana, Davao City due to their families' lack of sustainable livelihood.

These challenges were identified using the human-centered approach that focuses on the families and communities, through various in-depth interviews, focused group discussions, user journey mapping, secondary studies, and other research and validation tools.

The finalists of the challenge, composed of students and professionals from the developmental sector, will vie to have their ideas implemented. Three teams will compete for each challenge.

For the agriculture-focused Challenge #1, the participating teams are: Ato Ani (represented by Maria Wilvenna Añora, Venecia Añora, and Kent Vincent Añora), a Bohol-based social enterprise that makes and distributes organic fresh produce and processed organic food products; agribusiness Plantsville (represented by November "Tina" Canieso-Yeo), which seeks to engage the Cabalawan youth in natural farming and entrepreneurship, teaching them ways of lessor-tiller land use to improve agriculture image, link to social media and leverage on ICT in agriculture; and Tagani (represented by Kevin Cuevas and Josin Macastac), an online application that connects farmers with buyers for the direct sale of their produce. Its extension, the Tagani Plus, serves as a farm management and analytics mobile app.

The participating teams who will be ideating solutions for out-of-school youths in Brgy. Bucana, Davao for Challenge #2 are: (represented by Patricia Matias, Ria Tagle, Jose Soberano, Pam Suanco, Cristina Batalla), an organization that aims to develop an online portal specifically tailored for OSY (out-of-shool youths) providing information on both job and skills training opportunities; Quatro (represented by Daniel Galang, Sophia Salen, Aljay Bermejo, and Paul Dela, all students from De La Salle College of St. Benilde), a group seeking to create  both livelihood and scholarship opportunities for out-of-school youth; and lastly, Sora (represented by Juan Dalisay and Jan Matthew Rafol), a social apprenticeship training program designed to give out-of-school youth basic education, useful skills, apprenticeship, and possible hiring.

The finalists underwent a three-day long bootcamp, facilitated by British Council Active Citizens to ensure their ideas are well-formed and pertinent for eventual application to the communities of Sogod, Cebu and Brgy. Bucana, Davao. Aside from a seed money for implementation, the winning entry will win a cash prize.

Aside from ideation, the finalists want to encourage more people to take action in advocacies for environment and education.

“It’s a personal advocacy so we’re highly involved in organic culture and, as much as possible, we wanted more people to be involved in agriculture,” Maria Wilvenna Añora of Ato Ani, finalist for Challenge #1, said.

“We want to make education accessible for everyone because there are people left behind. And, with this challenge, it’s specific to out-of-school youth in Davao, we can really do that and learn how to scale it up in other communities as well,” said Pam Suanco of, finalist for Challenge #2.

A panel of multi-sectoral experts will evaluate the entries to choose proposals that have positive social and economic consequences, financial sustainability and an environment-friendly purpose. These esteemed judges are Gretchen Ho, World Vision Ambassador for Social Innovation Challenge,  John Aguilar of CNN Philippines' The Final Pitch,  Abigail Mapua-Cabanilla of the Hub of Innovation for Inclusion, and Christine Diane Romero of J. Amado Araneta Foundation among others.

“I believe that each one of us can make a change in our own ways. World Vision’s Social Innovation Challenge is a welcome platform for Filipinos in creating a difference through their innovative solutions”, said Mr. Rommel V. Fuerte, Executive Director of World Vision in the Philippines.

“With the help of our exceptional list of partners and mentors, our finalists are honed to help the residents of Sogod, Cebu, and Brgy. Bucana, Davao. I am amazed to see this competition transform into a collaborative project, a fitting representation of what we are always pushing for at World Vision.” (PR)