A Filipino social entrepreneur recently got to present Philippine made bamboo straws to top executives in Paris as part of a prize for a global startup challenge.
Bambuhay Social Enterprise's Mark Sultan Gersava made a pitch to a company in the French capital last March for potential funding and to spread awareness about sustainable entrepreneurship, his prize as one of six winners of Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge from around the world.
“Maybe for a possible funding opportunities and encouraging also the employees of the company to go into sustainability and also, we are here to attend different business incubator, as Paris is the start-up capital in Europe,” Gersava said.
Around 50,000 social entrepreneurs from 130 countries accepted the challenge, 292 among whom were from the Philippines. Gersava represented the Asia Pacific-Middle East Zone.
According to Gersava, the bamboo straws are purely organic and biodegradable and has a natural anti-bacterial called bamboo kun.
“This is the only bamboo straw in the Philippines that conducted a lot of scientific studies so it undergoes microbiological test and moisture test in order to ensure the safety of this product that it will not harm our health. The solution or treatment we are using here is 100-percent organic,” he explained.
Gersava is also a climate advocate and wants to change the Philippines' standing as one of the world's biggest plastic polluters.
Among his advocacies are banning single-use plastics, sustainable business practices, and support for farmers.
“In sipping this (bamboo straw), you are not just helping the environment but you are helping the farmers in the Philippines,” said Gersava.
That is why, Noemi Katuin, a fellow Filipino from Barcelona, Spain had the initiative to market the bamboo straws in Europe.
“What makes them unique is the selling point. You are not just selling the bamboo straws, but you are actually presenting the story of the people behind these straws and the lives we are able to uplift by buying these straws,” said Katuin.
Katuin added that using bamboo straw is like bringing an eco-bag when you go to supermarkets. She said we could refuse the straws available in establishments and use the bamboo straw instead.
A regular set of the bamboo straw consists of a bamboo case, a big straw for bubble or milk tea, a regular straw for milk shakes or cocktails and a straw cleaner.
“You can use this up to a year and this is dishwasher safe,” added Katuin.
In 2015, France and other parts of Europe banned single-use plastics. By Jan. 1, 2021, Europe will be the first continent to completely ban all single-use plastics such as cotton buds, coffee stirrers and straws.
Gersava will represent the Philippines at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) on June 3-6 at The Hague, The Netherlands.
GES is a prestigious annual gathering of world-class entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, and thought leaders from around the world, providing a unique event that is a combination of an innovation marketplace and policy forum.