Cinnamon is one of the most essential spices used all over the world. In fact, it was considered the “gold dust of Europe” during the 1500s. It was so valuable in Europe then, as oil is valuable globally today.
“I chanced upon this superfood and discovered that the Philippines has 16 native species, and they are in the International Union of Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) list of threatened species,” says November Canieso-Yeo, founder of Plantsville Health.
Hers is a social enterprise that aims to save the Philippine cinnamon and other aromatic indigenous species by planting them in partnership with small landholder farmers, buying their produce, and developing them into healthful products.
“It's a shame because our country imports more than 95 percent of its current cinnamon consumption. How meaningful it could be if we could help grow back the Philippine cinnamon while earning for the farmers and its suppliers,” she adds.
In the future, Plantsville hopes to bring in other business models to incentivize the farmers to plant and protect the Philippine cinnamon, like generating payments from carbon credits, getting crowd-funded from planting and nurturing the Philippine cinnamon and exchanging its planting for computers and internet access for their children.
The 'Rite' partner
For her enterprising vision, Canieso-Yeo is one of the remarkable few women qualified for the Department of Science and Technology's (DOST) Women Helping Women: Innovating Social Enterprises program (WHWise).
The WHWise Program brings together government agencies and private organizations to seek out and prepare women-led social enterprises for growth, scalability and subsequent venture capitalist funding.
The program provides services that include early-stage funding, training, skills development, mentorship and business incubation. More importantly, the program will provide access to technology to enable even women from rural communities to be part of the global economy.
Canieso-Yeo's DOST grant, in turn, caught the eye of top unibranded line of pharmaceutical and healthcare products RiteMed Philippines, Inc. (RiteMed). The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the collaboration in converting Plantsville's research studies about herbs and plants with scientific and clinical evidence to products that can be commercially made available.
“RiteMed has always been open to partnerships, most especially if it will benefit the Filipino patients as well as emerging Filipino entrepreneurs whose business model is based on supporting local resource1s that are proven to have health benefits, an effort that is also aligned with the government's thrust,” says RiteMed President Jose Maria Ochave.
“With Plantsville's commitment and with the full support of DoST, we may be able to optimize our country's natural resource1s not just for local but even for the global market.”
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