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The Human Nature

BY: Pancho Adelberto Hubilla • Jul 17, 2017

“When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and finding the solution for it. Charity becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility. But charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about the lives of the poor. Charity appeases our consciences.”

Social entrepreneurship is relatively a new business approach in the country. The common and perfectly sane thrusts would be to go the path of the efficient production costs of the fast moving qualities for assured maximum profits. Thus, it is rare to find a woman that leads a business undertaking based on the principles of social entrepreneurship. Albeit a chapter in the book by David Bornstein cited Florence of Nightingale as a person who broke the negative patterns and initiated new order of things based on ethics. The reference pertains to how she improved the sanitary conditions of the Scutari hospital during the Crimean War, raised money, improved the morale of the soldier-patients, and drastically cut down the death rate of confined soldiers from 42% to 2%. She actuated the involvement of people to address a social concern and attained the ethical output.

Social entrepreneurship is differentiated by the positive benefits that it offers to the community instead of profit as the designated end purpose. Relatively, a business enterprise founded on the principles of social entrepreneurship, manifests the fundamental characteristics of these principles in its operation, and registers profit is certainly a must see  model.

The Corporate had the privilege to interact with Ms. Anna Meloto-Wilk the President and one of the Co-Founders of Gandang Kalikasan Inc. The other two Co-Founders are Dylan Wilk and Camille Meloto and concurrently the Chairman and Creative Director respectively. GKI is the company that operates the brand name Human Nature. It is a for-profit organization anchored on strong social mission of addressing the needs of the poor while making locally produced natural personal care products accessible. It started in year 2008 with a stringent stipulation that it shall only use ingredients that have been proven safe instead of the common practice that ingredients maybe used so long as such have not been proven harmful.

Product Quality Control
All ingredients being used in Human Nature products undergo laboratory examinations in its Natural Care Laboratory. The raw materials must have certificates of origin, must qualify in the strict microbial and biodegradability tests. Moreover, the suppliers are required to present an official certification that their products were produced 100% natural, heavy metals content reading, and data on how the products were processed. Evaluation shall be then made by GKI to ensure that these ingredients met the international natural standards such as the Natural Products Association and Europe’s Eco-Cert. For palm-derived ingredients, the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil Certification is required to ensure that no rainforest was destroyed in its production.

Human Nature is the only Filipino personal care brand that is a member of the Natural Products Association of America. It is an association that holds its members to the strictest standards of naturalness anywhere in the world.

Operational Principles
Ms. Anna Meloto-Wilk shared that with her co-founders they dreamed of creating affordable natural products using Philippine ingredients. They took cognizance of the direction of the times towards sustainability and inclusivity. However, they are aware that to attain their dream it would entail stewardship, hard work, and faith especially in the hardest of times. At the outset, they decided that quitting will not be an option and the worst of trying times must motivate them to make things move and grow.

It is human nature to be fundamentally humane. This may sound like a cliché but this is an operational principle for Gandang Kalikasan Inc. the company that carries the Human Nature brand. This underscores the distinction of social entrepreneurship from the traditional profit sum purpose. One current national political slogan is to end labor contractualization. The GKI insist on regularizing its employees and giving them full benefits. The salary it provides to the rank and file in the National Capital Region and provinces ranges from 46% – 77% higher than the designated minimum wage for NCR that is Php481 per day. At least 58% of Human Nature employees come from the urban poor communities.

It does not end there. The company enforces a strict no firing policy for all its regular employees. Ms. Anna Meloto-Wilk quote her husband and co-founder on the no firing policy, Not many business people I talked to think that this is a good idea. They think that they would be taken advantage of with a policy like that. They said that why would someone work hard if he knows that he will not be fired. But we found the opposite. Filipinos are hardworking, kind-hearted, loyal, and want to contribute. When we take someone from the slums who believed in his whole life that his life can never change or that he is worthless, good for nothing and we tell him – WE WILL  NOT GIVE UP ON YOU – he gives back his very best. Over the years, there have only been a few who abused that policy but we have hundreds who give their best because they know we care for them. These people built Human Nature’.

The Corporate sought a close view of Ms. Anna Meloto-Wilk as a leader. She is, ‘I think more than anything my faith influences my work, my parenting style, and everything else. I believe that God designed me to be a parent of a big family and at the same time, He gave me purpose in helping change some of the ingrained systemic wrongs in our society. Both prospects excite me to no end seeing how God is using me to make a difference both in my personal and public capacities’.

The Human Nature core philosophies are PRO PHILIPPINES, POR POOR and PRO ENVIRONMENT.

Operational Outputs
Gandang Kalikasan Inc. posted a 30% year on year growth in 2016.

It has thirty-two stores and being carried by leading supermarkets nationwide. It is launching new products on almost quarterly basis and expanding the international reach.

Human Nature was recognized for its self-imposed standards by the following:

  1. World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation as Champion for Social Entrepreneurship -2012
  2. It is the only natural brand in Southeast Asia certified natural by the US Natural Products Association.
  3. It is the first Asian brand to win a Sustainability Pioneer Award from Organic Monitor. This is given to beauty industry operator who has blazed trails in manufacturing techniques and processes, use of novel materials, carbon management, energy management or has led in social aspects. Human Nature took home the Sustainability Pioneer Award for its social entrepreneurship work in Asia.

Community Programs
It is in partnership with the Gawad Kalinga Foundation through the ‘Kusina ng Kalinga’ in the school based feeding program serving nutritious lunch to 18,624 elementary pupils in the poorest communities of Leyte, Quezon City, Laguna, La Union, and Sultan Kudarat.

One of Human Nature’s organic product is the Bug Shield DEET-Free Oil to combat dengue mosquitos. It has devoted 100% of all of its profits from Bug Shield to community building efforts. The proceeds has funded communities in Bicol, Negros, Bukidnon, and Davao. It will also sponsor a Human Nature GK Village of Peace in Rajah Buayan, Maguindanao for fifty homes.

Indeed human nature is humane with the right purpose and being done by the right people.

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