By MB Online
An all-female group of Filipino senior high school students, which utilized recycled coconut fibers to innovate hand-crafted bags, bagged first place in the 2019 Junior Achievement (JA) Asia Pacific Regionals Company of the Year Competition last March 10 to 14 in Makati.
Terra Philippines, the student company behind “The Isla” eco-friendly bags, bested 19 teams from 13 countries in the Asia Pacific regions — Australia, Brunei, China, Guam, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
The student firm also took home the FedEx Access Award.
Terra, established in 2017, is composed of SHS students from Saint Scholastica’s College namely Alaina Tria (Chief Executive Officer), 17, Porsha Mangilit (Corporate Secretary), 18, Raphaella Mae Sanchez (EVP for Human Resources), 18, and Gwen Maurie Villaver (EVP for Marketing), 17.
“Terra advocates to lessen textile waste in the bag industry, which is why the interior of our bag is made from 100% recycled fabric. The coco coir accents are crafted to make your bag stylish with a purpose. Terra aims to use local products to promote our country and preserve our culture,” Terra posted in its “The Isla” promotional video on Facebook.
The student firm, however, started its operations in 2018 because it took time for the team to fully establish the company’s foundation.
“Terra was formed from the shared vision that each member had. We all wanted to create an eco-fashion product that merges fashion with function while promoting sustainability,” Tria, Terra’s CEO, told Manila Bulletin in an online interview.
“It’s quite interesting though since everyone pitched in their own set of ideas in creating the final design of the Isla. Someone thought of using the coconut coir and recycled textiles. Someone else thought of coming up with a multi-purpose bag. It was the whole team, there were different personalities coming alive in the creation of one final product, Tria added.
According to a report by ABS-CBN, the firm sourced out the coconut coirs from local farming communities in Laguna, Quezon, and Albay before domestic sewers from Metro Manila pieced them all together to form the bag’s inner lining.
Tria confirmed to Manila Bulletin that the team sourced the coconut coirs from the Philippine Ecofiber Corporation, which also helps local farmers sustain their livelihood.
Indonesia’s Zeal Student Company took home silver with their shoe innovation that can transform physical energy to Piezoeelectricity power to charge small gadgets.
Another firm from Indonesia, Sagasco, followed in third place with another footwear made of water hyacinth and batik to highlight the country’s tradition.
COL Financial also gave the Best Financial Management Award to Sagasco.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Ecovators and Korea’s TEAM Bread were voted as Young Entrepreneurs’ Choice Award.
Last year, the country’s Prima Facie ranked second for its unisex waterlily leather-made white sneakers in the competition held in Beijing, China.
JA Asia Pacific is just one of the branches of JA Worldwide, “one of the world’s largest youth-serving NGOs dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship.”
“The competition is not simply a business competition for young people. The goal is to balance the business achievements of each company as a whole with the personal development of each individual member,” JA Asia Pacific stated.
Meanwhile, founded in 1969, JA Philippines hosted and celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.