- Create economic opportunities by creating green jobs and sustainable livelihood opportunities for marginalized Indigenous People in rural communities
- Improve production capacity of Bambuhay’s Plantable Toothbrush and Bamboo Toothbrush
- Provide training opportunities to benefit the Bamboo Farmers community so that they can earn an income from bamboo harvest, at fair trade prices
16 billion pieces of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away annually in the world and Philippines produces more than 340 million pieces. According to the Plastic Polluters study, Philippines is one of the countries with the highest plastic waste emissions into the ocean with 3.3kg per person each year.
Meanwhile, the Nueva Ecija province is one of the poorer provinces in the Philippines as the farmers in the area struggled with poverty. Their income level could fall below PHP 3,000 and the lack of economic resources have led to the activities of slash-and-burn, charcoal making, rebels and deforestation over the years.
Bambuhay aims to solve the problems of plastic pollution, poverty and deforestation. They started training the poor farmers in Carranglan to be bamboo farmers and harvestors to create an alternative sustainable livelihood to stop the slash-and-burn and charcoal making activities.
Bambuhay initially started producing bamboo straws from the harvested bamboo as a means to reduce plastic straws. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic badly affected their business so they pivoted to producing bamboo toothbrushes, replacing the need for plastic toothbrush. In order to influence consumer behavior in reducing plastic waste, they created an innovative circular product model by developing a plantable bamboo toothbrush that can either be returned or planted. With the new products, Bambuhay was starting to recover from the effects of the pandemic and the demand of their products started increasing.
However, as Bambuhay established their processing facility in the rural communities to enable the farmers to supply and process the bamboo, they face the challenge of having stable electricity and water supply. They would need to increase their production capacity to meet the increased demand of their products and to increase the positive impact of their business to more farmers.
To leverage on the increasing demand, AirAsia Foundation has awarded Bambuhay with a social enterprise grant to expand their production capacity by 10-fold and to train more farmers. The grant will fund:
- Purchasing of additional machines and installation of facilities to enable stable flow of electricity, water supply and increased production output
- Training of 24 farmers in bamboo propagation, maintenance and harvesting
Bambuhay was founded in 2017 with a vision to build regenerative communities and innovate products that cause no harm to the people and the planet. They focus on circular economy and use business to implement solutions to plastic pollution, deforestation, climate change, peace and poverty using Bamboo and Technology. They mostly work with the Indigenous People, slash and burn farmers, charcoal makers, solo parents, out of school youth, former rebels and women by training them in bamboo farming/harvesting and hiring them in the processing of the products.
To date, they have helped sixty-eight (68) families out of poverty, increasing their monthly income from below PHP 3,000 to PHP 10,000 above. These families now have access to health and social benefits, access to bank and digital finance, financially literate, able to send their children to school and have access to online learning during pandemic, access to electricity and descent shelter. For the environmental impact, they have eliminated around 1,100 tons of plastics or equivalent to 6,600 tons of CO2 eliminated from the environment and regenerate and reforested 712 hectares of deforested land.
Mark Sultan Gersava
Mark Sultan Gersava is a multi-awarded social entrepreneur, climate change advocate, peace builder, innovator, Food Scientist and the Executive Member of the National Innovation Council. He has more than 15 years of experience in research and innovation, social entrepreneurship, quality assurance, business development, nation building and community development. Growing up in a family of slash-and-burn farmers living below the poverty line in a conflict-ridden province, he was inspired to find a solution in achieving peace, addressing poverty, deforestation and plastic pollution through social entrepreneurship.