When the average age of the Filipino farmer is 57 years old, and no one from the next generation is willing to take over, it poses a serious threat to the country’s food security. A team composed of MSIB 2017 students Aiah Sarmiento, Gorby Dimalanta, and Aaron David realized the gravity of the situation if left unchecked.
To Aiah, Gorby, and Aaron, the main problem is the lack of profitability for the farmers. To understand the situation better and offer the right solution, they extensively interviewed the players in the ecosystem, including farmers’ cooperatives and local government units. They also looked at farming practices and farm-to-market activities and promptly uncovered gaps with regard to market access, including the lack of critical market information among the farmers and buyers.
More importantly, they saw an opportunity to holistically improve the lot of all stakeholders in the value chain. To provide a solution, the team developed an online platform which they named “e-Magsasaka”. The platform contains a database that allows buyers to search for farmers who produce the crops they need and vice versa. Services include market-matching for farmer groups, direct sourcing for institutional buyers, and wider market reach for agri-input suppliers.
With direct access to buyers, the team looks to marginalize the middlemen, resulting in an expected increase in farmers’ revenues by at least 20%. Not only does e-Magsasaka solve the problem of profitability but it also has the potential to decrease the prices of crops for end users.
This revolutionary idea earned the team a PHP 250,000 cash prize as champions of the first East-West Seed Innovation Olympics. Aiah, Gorby, and Aaron used their tech backgrounds and business know-how to infuse technological innovation into an otherwise technology-challenged industry. This is the essence of the Master of Science in Innovation and Business program, providing tech-savvy students with the business skills they need to develop innovative ideas that contribute to the growth of businesses and societies.
Another MSIB 2017 team composed of Dom de Leon and Samantha Sanchez was recently awarded the Best Regional Social Enterprise during the UNDP Youth Co:Lab Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, besting entries from all over the Asia Pacific. Not content with the win, the duo also competed in the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) Pre-accelerator Boot Camp and were named one of the Top 3 startups in the competition. In addition, they also bagged the 2nd runner-up prize in the Rappler UNDP Social Innovation Hackathon.
Dom’s and Sam’s startup, Arooga Health, is a technological innovation in the Philippine emotional and mental healthcare industry. Their research shows that depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide. Thus, they developed Arooga Health as a way to promote emotional and mental wellness by providing access to needed care. It matches users with the right care providers based on budget, schedule, and desired mode of interaction, all in the safe environment of a secure platform.
Arooga Health is accessible on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. Licensed professional health providers have been enlisted to provide the best care possible. The platform has flexible pricing schemes, and individual sessions offer personalized care assessment as well as video and chat options. Arooga Health also offers company plans with priority scheduling and dedicated support teams.
This coming August, Dom and Sam will once again represent the Philippines in another UNDP Summit in China. We wish them the best and look forward to more accolades for their startup. Their tagline “A Happier Mind for a Healthier Life” truly resonates with the market they serve.
Congratulations to our MSIB alumni! We are very proud of your success!