Philippine entry wins UN’s Project Inspire grant

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine entry to the United Nations Project Inspire’s “5 Minute to Change the World” bested nine other finalists from other countries during its grand finals in Singapore.

The Hapinoy Program, an entry by Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, a cousin of President Benigno Aquino, aims to empower women micro-entrepreneurs.  Michelle Pabalan and Mark Ruiz of the Microventures Philippines Inc. are members of the team.

The project aims to support 1,000 women ‘sari-sari’ (or neighborhood convenience store) owners in Luzon in the southern Philippines through micro-finance.

Under the Hapinoy Program, women micro-entrepreneurs are trained in personal and business development management systems.

They are also taught to determine better priced goods, and introduce to additional revenue channels.

This enables the stores to operate more efficiently and sell products more cheaply, while also creating a market for local producers who would otherwise find it difficult to sell their goods in larger retail platforms.

Aquino, who represented his team for ‘The Hapinoy Program’, was among the 10 finalists who pitched their project ideas to a live judging panel comprised of top global development and social entrepreneurial experts, social advocates and business leaders.

The finals saw the field whittled down to 10 from out of 450 submissions from more than 50 countries all over the world in the form of a five-minute video or written pitch posted online between March and June 2011.

Project Inspire, a joint initiative by Singapore National Committee for UN Women (UN Women Singapore) and MasterCard Worldwide, was launched in March 2011 to commemorate the 100th year of International Women’s Day and to celebrate MasterCard’s 25th year in the region.

The 10 finalists – from Australia, two; Ghana, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, two; India and the Philippines, two – were selected out of 450 youth teams worldwide who submitted their life-changing ideas to empower women and girls across the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa in the form of a five-minute pitch videos (or written proposals) for a chance to win the US$25,000 grant.

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