It has been my dream to start a business in the service of the Filipino. However, launching a social enterprise is full of challenges which require the will to succeed at every step.
I was raised with a strong sense of social justice, particularly regarding the welfare of employees. The housing needs of minimum- wage employees in Batangas industrial parks have for years been neglected. Many workers at the bottom of the pyramid move from other provinces to Batangas for safe employment. They have great jobs at multinational manufacturers inside the parks but have no choice but to rent unprofessional slum-like dwellings outside ecozones.
While each start-up follows a different path, below are thoughts based on our threeyear experience of launching an impact venture:
Step #1: Understand the problem. PeoplePods is about the People—giving them a better life in an environment that allows them to live with dignity. Our mission is to improve quality of life without increasing costs to the worker.
Our first step was to understand worker accommodation needs. We studied the pain points of factory workers by conducting a study of over 500 workers in Sto. Tomas, Tanauan, Malvar, Lipa and Calamba. The surveys and interviews were important because we needed to know which amenities/services to prioritize immediately.
Step #2: Design a solution.
We placed the People—the worker—at the core of our design. As we learned, we developed a vision of the housing communities we wanted to create for workers. But we realized that we needed to develop our skills and hire more experienced people.
I started with self-improvement by enrolling in a professional course on Building & Property Management at De La Salle-CSB. Over six months, I learned community and tenant management, facilities maintenance, running financially-efficient operations, and business processes.
We also built a team, seeking others who have the determination to succeed and who were as willing as us to sacrifice for our mission. Their expertise would give us the integrity to deliver on our promise to uplift lives at the bottom of the pyramid.
Step #3: Find partners. No organization can enact sustainable change alone. We sought partners who saw the social injustice of worker living conditions. We found landowners to partner with and showed them that together we could make a scalable difference. We also found industry experts who provided their input on how best to execute. They understood that we are obliged to be responsible stewards of the world.
Dan Lopez Layug, CFA, founded PeoplePods which provides dignified and affordable co-living for minimum wage workers of Batangas industrial parks. PeoplePods was listed in the top “Social Enterprises to watch for in Asia in 2018” by DBS Bank (Singapore). The start-up won 1st Place at the 35th INSEAD Venture Competition (France) and the 2017 Kellogg Real Estate Competition (USA).
Prior to PeoplePods, Layug worked for six years at ING Bank’s Mergers & Acquisitions team and Maybank ATRKE’s Equity Capital Markets team covering transactions in Southeast Asia. He holds a professional diploma in Building & Property Management from the College of Saint Benilde. He graduated from Georgetown University with undergraduate degrees in Finance and Chinese Studies and from an INSEAD MBA where he was recognized as exemplifying the school’s vision of “Using Business as a Force for Good.” (Story/Photos by: Dan Lopez Layug)