Business as a Platform for Social Advocacy
Environmental issues often take a backseat when people are disenfranchised and financially challenged. We can’t preach sustainable lifestyles when individual lives are not sustainable to begin with. With this understanding, I was motivated to start a business where the environment, the arts, and livelihoods could come together and so, in 2010, Mir & Ryvi Home of Organics Company (mir connotes peace and ryvi means river) was born. I am now a proud soap maker.
Our business model combines people, nature, and science. Based on extensive research and after consulting with experts and suppliers, we make our soaps from only the best plant-based ingredients and essential oils. The fruits and vegetables we use – tomatoes, bananas, papayas – are sourced from organic farms in the Philippines. We combine these with plant-based extracts from abroad to create premium bath products.
We also provide fair wages so that our employees – now comprising 12 low-income mothers and out-of-school youth – will have the financial freedom to choose their own paths of development. We offer training and development to continually enhance their skills and opportunities for further growth and empowerment.
Today – three years after we began our journey – our team at Mir & Ryvi has established a strong foothold in the local market, securing key accounts for premium hotels like Marriott in the Philippines and Beauty Bar, a chain of high-end bath and body shops. Next year, we will begin exporting our products to the United States and Japan.
While we have faced challenges along the way, being an entrepreneur is a decision I made after working for international development projects for years, and therefore I persist and work toward the sustainability of our social enterprise. Aside from building a business that supports disenfranchised mothers and youth, what has been most satisfying is hearing our clients share their stories after using our products. Some have been suffering for years from conditions such as atopic dermatitis, a skin disorder that causes itching. Now they have a natural alternative in our products. Indeed, our products are handmade with love and every day our work becomes meaningful because we know that we are using the business as a platform for social advocacy.
2005 YouthActionNet Global Fellow Laiden Pedrina co-founded Mir & Ryvi Home of Organics Company in the Philippines. She is also the founder of the Young Artists Fellowship for the Environment (YAFE) and co-author of two books on sustainable lifestyles for United Nations Environment Programme.