The hard to reach places. The places with high unemployment and disease rates. The logistically messy places. The places most businesses won't go. The places where education is substandard.
For many of us, the world is no longer spread out with far and distant lands. It is close and immediate. However, poverty can separate capable people from providing the world with products and services that are desperately needed. Dignity moves to locations where unemployment and underpayment are significant issues in order to connect local workers to the global supply and demand chain they would not otherwise have access to.
Too many people are denied access to the global economy due to location and logistics. As the world economy grows and expands, poverty can be perpetuated by lack of access. We want to connect the local farmer to the global export market. By doing so, we can lift him out of poverty or slavery. We can empower him to grow and harvest a product that supports his family.
If we wanted to make the most money possible, we would never have located our plant where it is. But we chose our location because our bottom lines sent us out there. The places with high unemployment rates are where we want to be.
When we say we are out there, we mean it. Many times we have heard from Filipinos, "You're building way out there in the villages of Bicol? Why?" From a business perspective, the logistics are tough. We have to transport literally tons of equipment and product over small, often unpaved roads many kilometers away.
The government officials in the area have taken notice of what we are doing. They see the hope and economic benefit that we bring to the community. We gave them a good reason to improve the roads into and around our province. Now, our big trucks can transport easier, especially in rainy times. The road in front of our plant went from dirt to pavement. We are paving the way for other businesses to join us in being "out there."
While we applaud the efforts of those who are empowering the few, we want to dream BIG. We want to transform entire communities, and to do so, we can't be too small.
We will be medium, and we will be many. Our reproducible model will allow us to replicate what we are doing wherever there are coconuts - which is a big portion of the globe! We plan to get bigger by multiplication. However, each plant will remain a medium size business, employing 150 locals and sourcing coconuts from roughly 300 farmers. With each employee and farmer representing a family, each plant will be impacting the livelihood of over 2,000 people in the community.
We saw a problem: abject poverty. So we set out to find a solution. What we found was sustainable business. The kind of business that transforms communities.
Our staff comes from backgrounds in non-profit work, charity work, capital investment firms, product companies and start-ups. As we looked at all we had learned collectively, it became clear that charity cannot be the only solution to the problem. We are not anti-charity. That's just not what we do.
We bring a business model that is empowering and sustainable. We make profit so we can stay in the community - because what we do in the community is what matters most. We provide jobs in order to break the chains of poverty and slavery. We know that a person who is empowered to work and make a living for his or her family is a dignified person. And that person is less likely to become trapped in harmful cycles.
So we are not a charity. We are a business. We believe that a business can bring hope and dignity to those who need it most. And so can you.
From tree to table, the average coconut oil has likely changed hands 14 times. Each change of hands hikes up the price. By the end, a hierarchy of profits has left the farmer, who usually needs it most, with the least amount of money, and often caught in coconut slavery.
Some middlemen are helpful and necessary. But what if we could reduce the number of times that oil changes hands? What if we could bring you a dozen steps closer to the farmer? That's what we are doing. We are connecting the local farmer to the global market.