Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Filipino social Entrepreneur participates in the Young Business Leaders Initiative of The Asia New Zealand Foundation

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For the fourth year, a Filipino entrepreneur is participating in the Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI) of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. The YBLI is one of the four flagship projects under New Zealand’s Joint Comprehensive Partnership with ASEAN which aims to foster economic relationship between ASEAN and New Zealand. It is part of the New Zealand Government’s engagement with ASEAN which involves bringing dynamic young business leaders from ASEAN to New Zealand to build their business skills and enhance the economic relationship between ASEAN and New Zealand.

Ms. Cherrie Atilano was selected as the latest participant in the ASEAN YBLI and visited New Zealand in 31 January to 13 February 2015. Ms. Atilano is a leading social entrepreneur in the Philippines. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Agricool and Blue Bamboo, both of which are social enterprises based at the Enchanted Farm under the Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation. Agricool aims to make farming fashionable and desirable to the youth through supporting and mentoring their studies in agriculture. It also supports the training of farmers and connects them to the market. Blue Bamboo focuses on the planting of bamboo both for its environmental benefits and to support Filipino craftspeople using bamboo. Ms. Atilano was named a “2014 Laureate Global Fellow” by the International Youth Foundation, a “Global Shaper” by the World Economic Forum, and one of “Four Filipinas to Watch” by Rappler Magazine.

On 3 February 2015, Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez warmly welcomed Ms. Atilano and Mr. Adam McConnochie, Project Manager, ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, Asia New Zealand Foundation during the dinner she hosted at “Ang Bahay” (Philippine Ambassador’s residence). Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa, Third Secretary and Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Obach, Ms. Mayette Maling-Cope, a Filipino community leader in Palmerston North, Mr. Spencer Secretario, a Filipino Scholar at Massey University and Ms. Rubianca Angelica H. Benavidez, the Ambassador’s daughter, were also present. “The ASEAN YBLI is a commendable programme and an effective pathway to building friendship and business links between ASEAN and New Zealand and enhancing networking among young entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region and, as Filipinos, we are proud and happy that our young business leaders, such as Ms. Atilano, the 7th Filipino participant, are given much deserved recognition for continuing to make their mark in the most important sectors in the current economic landscape of the Philippines,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.

Ms. Atilano and Mr. McConnochie thanked Ambassador Benavidez for the gracious hospitality and the Philippine Embassy’s continuing support and cooperation for the YBLI programme. Ms. Atilano shared her life pathways and what led her to become a champion of agriculture for the youth as well as her learning experiences, networking, visits, meetings and interaction with various individuals, organizations and companies and presentations made through the YBLI programme.

The six Filipinos who have previously been part of the programme were Mr. Jeffrey Tarayao, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and Mr. Chris Chilip, Hotel Entrepreneur, who visited New Zealand on 29 June to 19 July 2014, Mr. Joseph Calata, the CEO of Calata Corporation, an agricultural conglomerate, and Ms. Carla Kim, Head of Sustainable Development, Manila Water and Executive Director of Manila Water Foundation who participated in the YBLI in October and November 2013, and Ms. Marcy K. Venezuela, Director of the Apsmith Solutions Corporation and Ms. Joan Cosico, the General Manager of Robinsons Homes and Head of the Investor Relations of Robinsons Land Corporation who visited New Zealand in February and April 2012, respectively.

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