I represented the Philippines at a leadership program on Smart & Sustainable Cities that brought me to Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Smart & Sustainable Cities are not just about new technologies. It is more about creating mechanisms to understand community needs and using insights for planners and developers to be able to develop long-term resilient urban areas.
Learning from peers
The Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program or A2ELP is a three-month fellowship for one impact entrepreneur from each ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) nation. The fellowship trains leaders in skills to engage a range of stakeholders and develop scalable and sustainable business models in ASEAN. The program is fully funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I met inspiring entrepreneurs with interesting life stories and start-ups ranging from waste plastic-to-petroleum facilities in Thailand, urban food transparency in Myanmar, information technology that makes Indonesia more navigable for the visually impaired, sustainable events planning in Singapore, spatial mapping so people can track safe urban routes in Australia, green infrastructure in Cambodia, impact accelerators in Laos, and more.
Learning from experts
Singapore, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh are three of the most Smart & Sustainable Cities in ASEAN.
The program gave us direct access to experts and best practices in the field. Through capacity-building workshops and panel discussions, we learned from Singapore Smart Cities Network, 100 Resilient Cities Foundation, Indonesia Green Building Council and Vietnam Department of Planning and Architecture at the Saigon Innovation Hub, among others.
The three cities are supporting the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens. They have partnered with impact start-ups to be able to connect the city’s master planners with the needs of citizens.
One particular start-up in Jakarta was a transparency platform wherein citizens could take photos of damaged roads or infrastructure. This data would then be analyzed and used by the local government to allocate resources to solving the most pressing problems.
Their experience has shown them that bottom-up approaches (vs. top-down planning) significantly enhance market adoption. This has allowed administrators to be innovation driven with a fast and agile feedback loop that considers the preferences of everyday residents.
Learning from diplomats
The A2ELP’s objective is to promote cooperation among ASEAN countries and Australia. I had the rare chance to discuss resiliency planning with Australian Ambassador to Singapore Kate Duff, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN Jane Duke, Australian Consul General Julianne Cowley and ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Dr. Hoang Anh Tuan.
I had the opportunity to share about how my impact start-up, PeoplePods Philippines, seeks to provide female industrial workers more than just decent facilities, but also an environment where they can live with dignity.
I learned that each country is different in terms of how workers housing can be provided in a dignified manner. A multitude of factors in each country must be considered to ensure co-living addresses the needs of workers at the base of the pyramid. Studying best-in-class accommodations around ASEAN was truly a game-changing experience.
Dan Lopez Layug, CFA, founded People Pods which provides dignified and affordable dorms for minimum wage workers of Batangas industrial parks. People Pods was listed in the top“ Social Enterprises to watch for in Asia in 2018” by DBSBank(Singapore). The startup won 1st Place at the 35th INSEAD Venture Competition(France) and the 2017 Kellogg Real Estate Competition(USA).Forinquiries,contactusthroughwww.peoplepods.co.
Layug 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)