Thirty scholars which Monsanto sponsored to Gawad Kalinga’s School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development (GK-SEED) are set to finish their two-year program this June.
The scholars expressed their gratitude during a recent media visit at the school in Angat, Bulacan. The students shared their inspiring journey and paid tribute to Gawad Kalinga and Monsanto for making a positive difference in their lives.
Established in 2014, SEED Philippines offers an education-based solution to rural development. “It is the first school to be training people from the bottom of the pyramid, specifically the young to actually learn business. We don’t teach the poor employment, we teach them to become employers,” said Mark Lawrence Cruz, Director of GK-SEED Philippines. “The students undergo an intensive two-year program wherein they take a variety of courses that focus on character development, enterprise management, communications, business math, and agriculture,” Cruz explained.
Gladys Parohinog, one of the first batch of scholars from Butuan grew up supporting her own studies while working for her family. She came from a farmer’s family who do not have a permanent house in Cotabato City. “Gawad Kalinga did not only gave us a house but they also helped us build our capabilities,” Gladys expressed. She is now developing her own enterprise named Fabu-roots, showcasing products made from root crops.
John Paul Jose, a 22-year-old who belong to a tribal community in Nueva Vizcaya also shared how the scholarship changed his perceptions in life. “I was conditioned at a young age that when you belong to a tribal community and you came from the bottom of the pyramid, you will not contribute anything good to the society–you are not capable of doing something great. It was like a line was drawn for the poor. But when I found SEED, they did not just allow me to cross that line, but they allowed me to define my own line,” he underscored. On June, John Paul will be graduating as one of the top social entrepreneurs of his batch. He is currently expanding his enterprise called Oasis Chips, promoting the production of world-class indigenous root-crop products.
“On behalf of our batch and the SEED scholars, we are honoring Monsanto for giving us this kind of opportunity. You made us realize that we have the right to dream big, we have the right to be rich, and we have the right to be part of a world with possibilities. Because of your generosity, we have built 15 enterprises in our batch. You have empowered us, and we will empower the community before us. Thank you for believing in us,” imparted Jose.
Meanwhile, Monsanto’s Corporate Affairs Lead, Charina Garrido-Ocampo, said “our partnership with Gawad Kalinga has been on-going for more than four years now. It’s a long-standing partnership–we started with Bayan-Anihan Farms in North Luzon and Mindanao, then moved to building Monsanto Village in IloIlo, and now sponsoring 30 scholars and building a two-storey dormitory here in Bulacan. We really hope that we can continue this partnership, as we support a unique strategy towards ending poverty and achieving food self-sufficiency.”
In his closing remarks, Director Cruz thanked Monsanto for the support given to the 30 scholars. Cruz said “I tell the scholars that they don’t need to be born with a good name to be able to get good opportunities. They may have been born poor, but they will not die poor. That if you give them the right opportunities, they will grab it and make it worth our while.” ### (MonPhil/TN)