Taking Agripreneurs to the Next Level: How Villgro Philippines Cultivates Success in the Heart of the Philippines

Villgro Philippines
5 min readOct 26, 2023

AC Alyzsa DY, writes about her experience in conducting capacity-building and learning sessions aimed at equipping agripreneurs with the right knowledge and skills to overcome hurdles that face them in accessing markets, funding, and more.

The Philippines is an archipelago rich with natural resource opportunities, surrounded by greens of forests and mountains, and blues of oceans and springs; yet the statistics reveal a stark contrast of the country’s reality despite the naturally rich landscapes. Filipino farmers and fisherfolk face a staggering 30% poverty incidence, double the World Bank’s national average of 18.1%, shedding light on the urgent need to empower agricultural entrepreneurs (PhilSEED, 2023). I think it is highly concerning and heartbreaking that despite farmers and fisherfolk’s integral role in feeding the country and its people, they are in the situation of not being able to comfortably feed their own families.

In August of 2023, Villgro Philippines partnered with Yunus Environment Hub, a global social business network creating solutions for the environmental crisis, to capacitate six local agricultural entrepreneurs or “agripreneurs”.

Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

The agricultural landscape in the Philippines is a diverse but highly challenging industry and mainly is comprised of small-scale farmers who primarily rely on more traditional methods of farming. Farming and fisheries as subsectors play the largest roles in the industry due to the local terrain and climate, but forestry and livestock production also contribute to the country’s GDP (Statista Research Department, 2023). Overall, the sector ultimately faces the greatest challenge of slow growth traceable to the slow expansion in production factors and weak growth in total factor productivity, due to many gaps in the areas of land, labor, capital, risk, infrastructure, trade policies, and public spending (Briones, 2023).

Villgro Philippines has been continuously working to support agricultural entrepreneurship over the past few years with programs such as the ALAB Innovation Accelerator in 2019 and current programs and partnerships, as farmers and cooperatives continue to face the challenges in the field. The capacity building and learning sessions partnered with Yunus Environment Hub aimed to equip agripreneurs with the right knowledge and skills to overcome hurdles that face them in accessing markets, funding, and more.

The preparation for the learning sessions detailed careful planning and execution; Yunus Environment Hub assessed the needs of the participants to uncover a learning session curriculum that would most benefit and build capacity for the agripreneurs. With this, we have uncovered that the agripreneurs mainly needed support in the key areas of agricultural landscape, business and revenue models, marketing and communications, and go-to-market strategies. The sessions we have conducted as country learning workshops covered topics such as the agricultural landscape in the Philippines, discussed gaps and challenges in the local agriculture sector, government policies and actions on agriculture that would most affect the agripreneurs, market-based models in agribusinesses, and effective storytelling and grant writing. In order to bring firsthand knowledge and expertise in respective agricultural value chains, we also brought together Nelben Moreno of Green Habits and Tala Bautista of Coffee For Peace to share their journey and experience through a fireside chat.

A common challenge for the agripreneur participants remained to be accessing the right markets and developing a strong case for their business models. We addressed this by detailing revenue models to establish structure and prioritize business sustainability, marketing strategies they can draw inspiration from for their own businesses, community, and stakeholder engagement to strengthen their partnerships, impact measurement, and management best practices to develop in their own impact metrics, and some background on supply chain management for their reference. In each of the sessions, we endeavored that we are able to bring in our own expertise from past years working in the Philippines and draw insights for the practical application and value of the topics discussed or experiences from the participants to develop peer learning.

Through the learning sessions, the participants were able to develop stronger, more compelling, and well-thought-out project proposals that aim to build a sustainable agribusiness and able to help more small-holder farmers in the process. It is through initiatives that empower the Philippines’ agricultural entrepreneurs that we believe we can have a broader impact in both social and economic aspects. There is high potential for sustainable development and growth in the Philippines, and working with Yunus Environment Hub and passionate agripreneurs has only validated this.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

The sessions were also a personal learning experience for me on how deeply the agricultural sector and agripreneurs need support to build a resilient and self-sustaining food system for the Philippines. Moreover, just like all things, it never is just a one-stop solution or a burden for one group to address. Even as a consumer, the ripple also continues by ensuring that I am able to support small agribusiness or similar initiatives and small social enterprises in my own community. Local entrepreneurs drive positive change, and through continuous support in a multitude of ways, we are able to empower them to make this change.

The journey for us at Villgro Philippines still continues. We’re always looking to collaborate with more organizations and embark on new challenges to equip a generation of entrepreneurs who fight and address key social and climate issues, similar to these learning sessions. We are grateful to have been part of this partnership, and even more so to be a part of the journeys of these inspiring agripreneurs.

Do you have your own agribusiness and want to share your own experiences or insights? Are you an investor or funder looking to drive impact? Reach out to us — we’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about our climate initiatives or partner with us, you may check out the Villgro Philippines website at http://villgrophilippines.org or reach out to us at ac@villgrophilippines.org

Sources:

Briones, R. (2022, February). Market and State in Philippine Agricultural Policy. https://pidswebs.pids.gov.ph/CDN/PUBLICATIONS/pidsdps2208.pdf

PhilSEED (2023, May 18). Top 5 challenges faced by Filipino farmers today. Rappler. Retrieved September 5, 2023, from https://nowyouknowph.rappler.com/650/top-5-challenges-faced-by-filipino-farmers-today/

Statista Research Department (2023, July) Agriculture in the Philippines — statistics & facts. https://www.statista.com/topics/5744/agriculture-industry-in-the-philippines/#topicOverview

About the author

AC Alyzsa Dy is Program Manager— Incubation at Villgro Philippines. She manages end-to-end incubation and acceleration programs for various verticals such as Climate Action (SUP Challenge — Plastic-Free Philippines), Ways4Waste (in partnership with The Incubation Network), and Healthcare (AI4Health Asia). AC also serves as a portfolio manager and supports the climate space and the cohorts in the programs through linkages, mentorship, and tailored assistance.

Connect with AC at ac@villgrophilippines.org

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Villgro Philippines

We take a chance on the heroes of tomorrow. We fund, mentor, and incubate early stage social impact entrepreneurs. www.villgrophilippines.org