Aug 26, 2011

Project Inspire: The Final Update

Finally, it's over. Congrats to the Hapinoy Program from the Philippines for winning the Project Inspire. Bam (Philippines) did a very great job with his presentation *ikaw na ang magaling!! (means: you're the best!!) ;) Oh, I (always) love Filipinos!!!

Congratulations also to UPLift Initiative from Thailand (Mark, the Kansas boy!! :D) for winning the Best Financial Literacy/Livelihood proposal. In a surprise, the judges put another prize *hey it rhymes*. Congrats to Painting the Road to Empowerment from India, for the Most Creative Community Outreach proposal, congrats Madhura!

I'm happy for my three friends, but frankly speaking, losing is absolutely not my thing. I felt something 'funny' inside knowing that this thing is over without me getting what I (thought I) wanted. I'm not really sure what I wanted though, but I do remember the last time I prayed before my presentation, I asked God to give me the best.. And for whatsoever the result will be, I hope it will bring me happiness. He knows the best, I believe so. Well, funny feeling will be adjusted :)

I'm grateful to be one of the finalists and get this whole amazing experience :) The committee did a terrific job of holding such a great event. I met brilliant people whom I never thought I would meet before; Professor Patrick Turner from INSEAD, who gave us 2 hours lesson on Project Management, Natalie from Bain & Co, who provided all tips we need to nail our presentations, and 9 other participants from around the world with one aim, to make tomorrow better than today for women (particularly) and all human being. I was so moved and inspired knowing their project and I hope I can do so much better ever since. I also met other people who absolutely made my day. Oh, such a great blessing.

Ten finalists at Bain & Co

with Mark, the Kansas boy, few minutes before my presentation

About my presentation, I'm very happy with it. I'm not sure whether the committee recorded our presentation or not, I believe they did though, I'm just not sure if it will be shared. Well anyway, it didn't go exactly like this, but this is what I've planned to say :p


Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, and my fellow friends.

Hello, my name is Nadya Saib, I’m from Indonesia. Some friends call me the soap lady and you’ll know the reason why..

I got my bachelor degree in Pharmacy in October 2008. To develop my own cosmetic brand has been my huge passion since I was in high school. I'm not a scientist but I can say that science has taken my breath away a little too much.

In college, I met some friends with similar interest, we conducted research on natural soaps right after we graduated, yes.. That’s where my name came from. And then we started a company, we call it Wangsa Jelita, literally means ‘beautiful dynasty’. After one year, and finding 5 soap formulas, we were planning to take this business to the next level, we wanted to work more closely with our suppliers and we wanted to bring more benefits to the community.

So then we went to Lembang to survey the farmers there. And we found this “life cycle” of the rose farmers, or most farmers in Indonesia I can say. They ended their education at Junior high school level, the girls ended their education even earlier, and they most likely get married at a very young age. While the boys.. They will continue what their parents do. Some of them might go to the city, looking for a job that will provide more decent income, without having sufficient knowledge and skills. So you can imagine what will happen.

There are complex problems within the farmers community. Middlemen have been very helpful to the farmers, at the same time, farmers are too dependent to middlemen. They have no bargaining power, because they have no alternative market. Then we came up with a social enterprise plan to help the farmers.

In 2010, there was a competition called Community Entrepreneur Challenge in Indonesia, it was held by British Council and Arthur Guinness Fund. We submitted our idea and fortunately we won. We got the grant and we use it to execute our plan.. We created a fair trade system, we buy their roses with fair price, we develope the community, we give them new skills to add value to their roses. Now all women in the rose farmer community can make soap out of their roses, they get more profit from the fair trade with our company and I’m glad to say that they have started to save money for their children’s education. They start to realize that education is the key to solve their problems.

And if this system had become successful in this particular region, what we have to do is to repeat this in other places all over Indonesia, or even the world, especially in agriculture sector. You know, one third of the world's workers are employed in this sector, in Indonesia itself, there are more than 40% of our total population, more than half of that number are living in poverty.

So you can imagine how this system can give a massive impact to create a better future.

What we've planned with the grant from Project Inspire, hopefully.. we'll divide it into three parts. The first part will be used to replicate the previous project so more farmers will get the benefit, while the second part will be used to conduct more research in utilizing natural resource that the farmers have. And the third part will be used in marketing the product produced. It will create a sustainable scheme in using studies to solve social problems. It will be good for everybody because it recycles, so in the future, it can run in its own steam.

I have seen that many of my classmates had produced great research. Unfortunately most of them had not been put into real action since they graduated. Our dream in Wangsa Jelita is to be able to push these concepts further. We want to use science to solve social problems, to apply it in communities and to put it in good use.

This movement of using science or studies as tools to solve social problems, this initiative which is also started and moved by women, I have no doubt this.. what I believe will make the world a better place and create a better future for the next generation.

Thank you very much.

Ps. I promise I'll share the video, if there's any.