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11 Years of GK: Inspiring a Nation to #EndPoverty

Last October 2-4 at the GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, Gawad Kalinga celebrated 11 years of inspiring different sectors to work together and address the realities that confront the least amongst us―the poor (landless, homeless and hungry) at the “base of the pyramid.”

The 2nd Social Business Summit and 11th GK Expo gathered over a thousand movers and shakers from the Philippines and the world. More than a celebration of 11 years of nation-building, it was about asking the hard questions and looking towards 2024. Indeed, how do we make our efforts appropriate so that we can bring this fight to the heart of our national consciousness: to end the poverty of 5 million poor families by 2024?

Throughout the 3 days, GK Executive Director Luis Oquinena reiterated that “The poor are not problems to be solved but persons to be loved.”

He also highlighted that “The fight against poverty is a fight in intimate contact with the 5 million, otherwise categorized as those in the ‘base of the pyramid.’ To win this fight is to put an end to the poverty mindset. We need to ‘flip’ the pyramid so that the poor are on top! This will mean it is not a trickle down strategy nor a bottom up approach. ‘Flipping’ the pyramid will mean that the ‘haves’ will have to do the heavy lifting if we want to stabilize our nation. We can’t expect the poor to play catch up, they will never be able to.”

READ: “Flipping the Pyramid“: Ending the Poverty Mindset

Economic Innovation for Inclusive Wealth Creation

READ: Live Blog of the Social Business Summit 2014 (

We each have a unique role in “doing the heavy lifting,” but something that resounded throughout the 3 days was the need to unleash the genius of the poor through social entrepreneurship and by seeing them as true partners in nation-building. This is why with Super Typhoon Haiyan and the reality of extreme poverty (despite economic growth) at the backdrop, the 2nd Social Business Summit gathered speakers, strategic partners and participants from business, academia, government, as well as successful social entrepreneurs and innovators from different parts of the globe.

Sen. Pia Cayetano

Senate of the Philippines

Sec. Francis Pangilinan

Presidential Assistant for Food Security

and Agricultural Modernization

Sec. Gil delos Reyes

Dept. of Agrarian Reform

Sec. Cesar Purisima

Dept. of Finance

Sec. Joel Villanueva


Sec. Kim Henares

Bureau of Internal Revenue

Edgardo Chua

Shell Philippines Country Chairman

John Miler

Nestle Philippines Chairman/CEO

Dylan Wilk

Human Nature Co-Founder

Jeannie Javelosa

ECHOstore Co-Founder

Manny Perlas

LifeBank Foundation President

Maria Ressa

Rappler CEO

(Click HERE for the full list of speakers)

Central to the discussion was how we can change the reality that in the emerging economy of the Philippines, growth does not reach the “base of the pyramid” and is only concentrated on top. The typical top down approach has not and will not #endpoverty for rural farmers and urban informal settlers, and this is why we need social entrepreneurs to bridge the widening social gap.

Social entrepreneurs see the poor not as objects of charity but as partners in creating world-class products and businesses. These social entrepreneurs and their community partners, many of whom are based in the GK Enchanted Farm, show us that by giving the best for the least, the least will become the best.

READ: “Connecting ‘good growth’ to genuine poverty reduction” (

"The brightest and the best in Europe are investing their hearts and minds for our communities."

– GK Founder Tony Meloto with GK Enchanted Farm interns & social entrepreneurs

Through meaningful plenary and breakout sessions, ideas were exchanged and paradigms were shifted – all towards creating a ‘Walang Iwanan Economy’ where the poor are treated as partners in creating social enterprises that can truly help #endpoverty.

"Working with businesses is not enough. Working in communities is also not enough. We need to bridge."

– Senator Bam Aquino on 'Walang Iwanan Economy'

READ: Social Business Summit Days 1, 2 and 3 and Related Articles

Inspiring a Nation to #EndPoverty

Flipping the pyramid also means that the 80% of us should work together in creating that “lift” so that the poor can begin to dream and aspire for greatness. For 11 years, Gawad Kalinga has worked with all sectors of society, awakening the heroism in each one. In working towards 2024, we need to inspire and engage even more individuals and institutions toward advocacies that will #endpoverty:


(represented by Georgina Wilson,

GK partner and advocate)


(represented by Raffy Sabenorio,

GK beneficiary turned land donor)



(represented by Mayor Baby Congco

of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija)


(represented by Nena Wuthrich,

Executive Director of LBC Foundation)

In mobilizing all sectors of society to #endpoverty, we need to put a special focus on the young. We need to ensure that the seeds of social innovation are planted in the next generation of Filipinos and global leaders: mentoring the youth of today – both rich and poor – to really find solutions to poverty and create sustainable wealth for all.


(represented by some members of the GK Youth)

“I am not from a GK community, but the love and care of Gawad Kalinga go beyond the four corners of the homes they have built. And while I never imagined that my dreams could come true, I will soon graduate with my degree of BS Business Administration Major in Human Resource Management.” – Pad Batinga

De La Salle University and DLS-College of St. Benilde continue to partner with GK and give deserving scholars the opportunity to receive quality tertiary education, unleashing their untapped potential and inspiring them to dream big. (READ: ‘An Unexpected Dream’)

Bright and determined students from public schools in Bulacan are now the scholars of the newly-launched SEED (School for Experiential and Entrepreneurial Development). SEED aims to produce globally competitive graduates with love for country and fellow Filipino poor, who will tackle poverty through agriculture and social innovation. (READ: ‘SEED Launch’)

Young or old, rich or poor, public official or private individual, corporate employee or social entrepreneur – we need to ALL work together and dream big dreams not only for ourselves and our families but for our nation, and most especially for the poor who have been left behind. In the coming months, Gawad Kalinga hopes to bring this to the level of the barangay to create a massive platform for sustainable transformation.

Barangay Walang Iwanan will engage 20,000 BARANGAYS to feed the hungry, provide land for the landless, build homes, care for the environment, fix schools and unleash the potential of the poor to be our partners in driving true inclusive growth.

Without your help, we cannot make this happen. But together, we can transform a “walang pakialam” mentality into a culture of bayanihan and “walang iwanan.”

Together, we can #endpoverty.

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