BY CHRIS SCHNABEL
MANILA, Philippines – Endeavor Philippines welcomed two more successful entrepreneurs into its fold to help spur development in the Philippines through high-impact entrepreneurship.
Financial technology entrepreneur Mikko Perez of Ayannah and cacao producer Simon Bakker of Kennemer Foods International became the 9th and 10th Philippine-based high-impact entrepreneurs during Endeavor's 69th International Selection Panel (ISP) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in late February, Endeavor announced on Friday, March 3.
A global non-profit group, Endeavor aims to transform emerging economies by providing support to local entrepreneurs capable of creating high-growth businesses.
The aim is to help them build companies that others can feed off, creating a healthy job-creating ecosystem similar to Silicon Valley.
As newly-minted Endeavor entrepreneurs, Perez and Bakker will have access to Endeavor's global network of over 4,000 business leaders to help them scale up their businesses.
The benefits also extend to free consulting services from top firms Ernst & Young and Bain & Company, and potential access to Endeavor's investment fund.
"Mikko and Simon were accepted unanimously by their respective panelists, who were impressed by their business acumen and innovation in growing their companies to become leading global players," Endeavor Philippines managing director Manny Ayala said in a statement.
"Endeavor is excited to provide strategic mentoring and support to accelerate Ayannah and Kennemer, which we are confident will transform their respective industries and positively impact the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Philippines and other emerging markets around the world," he added.
Making remittances more efficient
The Philippines-born Perez founded Ayannah, which has set out to tackle the Philippines' $40-billion underserved domestic remittance and financial services industry.
The problem is that urban-rural remittances continue to be predominantly cash-based and take place through pawnshops – a process that is costly and inefficient.
The heart of Ayannah is called Sendah, the proprietary platform that Perez and his team of engineers built. It gives unbanked Filipinos easy access to a suite of financial products and services through a network of 7,000 agents that include pawnshops, convenience stores, and other retail establishments as well as individuals.
The Harvard-educated Perez also founded the mobile instant messaging service Chikka, which was acquired by PLDT in 2009.
"The ISP was a unique opportunity to learn from amazing mentors and entrepreneurs from around the world. The feedback helped us refine our business plan and prepare to take our business to the next level to achieve market leadership in the Philippines and expand to other emerging markets. We are delighted to be selected into the Endeavor network as our business is at a critical inflection point in our mission to spur financial inclusion to the unbanked," Perez said in a statement through Endeavor.
Pulling small farmers up
Simon Bakker, a Dutch national, was chosen for his work starting Kennemer Foods, a Philippine agribusiness company specializing in the growing, sourcing, and trading of high-quality agricultural crops such as fermented cacao beans sourced from smallholder farmers.
Established in 2010, Kennemer was envisioned as a true end-to-end support organization that would also help farmers increase their productivity, revenue, and social impact.
Though the Philippines has farmed cacao for over 300 years, it has historically been a low-yield, backyard crop, Bakker noted.
Kennemer provides knowledge, planting materials, fertilizers, and loan products which, according to the firm, boost the productivity of Philippine smallholder farmers by 4 times on average to bring a 300% to 600% increase in their annual income.
Bakker arrived in the Philippines in 1994. For his first venture, he co-founded Enderun Colleges, a management college in Manila.
"The ISP was a rare experience. The Endeavor panelists provided me with valuable feedback on how to further scale up our cacao sourcing model. At the same time, the interaction with my fellow entrepreneurs from various regions in the world was truly inspiring," Bakker said. – Rappler.com