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The business innovation is that farmers are hired as employees, earning regular salaries while cultivating the land and managing and marketing the produce. In the third year, the farmers will now share in the profit of the business. They are also taught business skills to be successful in solely managing the operations by year 5.
At the end of the five-year program, the farmers are expected to be middle-income families, and the enterprise will be able to acquire another community to cultivate.
"The 1-3-5 Pathway to Life is a five-year program that aims to equip and empower the farmers to become middle-income families in five years."
The first two years are called the Hired Hands stage. The farmers are earning above minimum salaries plus benefits. They will cultivate the land, build their homes, and manage their family finances.
In the third year, they become partner farmers. As partners, they are no longer paid regular wages but now receive a 20% share of profits. It will at least triple their income from their first year in the program. They are taught basic financial literacy and business management skills to know how the business operates and earns.
Finally, in the fifth year, they become owner-operators. The management will give the farmers full autonomy in managing the business and get a minimum share of profits to continue operating other Hectares of Hope. They can build other business ventures in the area but within the ethical, social, religious, and legal bounds of the Hectares of Hope values.
"They cannot build a bingo place, a theater, or sabungan [cockfighting pit]. It should be related to agriculture, farming, and ancillary business."
The 1-3-5 Pathway to life primarily helps the farmers break free from poverty (SDG1). In addition, all products are edible and healthy, which enables the families to eradicate hunger in the community (SDG2) while providing decent work and economic growth (SDG 8). The farm is strictly employing organic methods of farming and aims to build businesses anchored on sustainable practices. Hence, Life on Land (SDG 15) and Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) are also achieved.
"This will change the whole mindset of Filipinos that farmers will always be poor."
Inspired by catastrophic events in the Philippines in 2013, the program started as literacy programs for the children to help them continue their learning despite living in evacuation centers.
"Hectares of Hope wants to uplift the lives of the Filipinos, especially the children, to rebuild their community and provide innovative, collaborative, and sustainable solutions to rural poverty."
"That was my prerogative. I live among the communities, so I was able to experience what it is like to be there...I was really big on sustainable solutions. I don't want a dole out," said Tancho.
Moreover, they saw that a lot of families in Davao own a piece of land. However, due to a lack of technology, financial support, and marketing capabilities, their family members went to the cities and looked for jobs there. It sparked an inspiration to create an intervention to help them earn a living without leaving their homes.
"Operating the framework brought significant impact across different stakeholders. The farmers can achieve economic empowerment, financial literacy, and family solidarity in the process. Their families join in the advocacy of continuous income and sustainable communities."
In addition, the investors of the enterprise are both rewarded financially and morally. These like-minded investors have the opportunity to invest in our farmers and help cultivate organic farming practice in the Philippines.
On the other hand, customers are offered organic and healthy products. Despite spending more, they are assured of helping the farmers break free from poverty while eating organic fruits and vegetables.
Finally, creating an ecosystem of sustainable lands, sustainability-minded people, and organic products makes the Earth a better place to live.
Initially, the investors get a 15% discount on the amount they invested. For example, they invested in PHP. 1,000,000, Hectares of Hope will only get PhP. 850,000 from them. The invested amount (1M) will earn 5% per annum. After three years, they can withdraw the investment. The investor will earn 15% of their invested amount at the onset and an additional 15.76% in 3 years.
"Customers are also considered generosity revolution partners. By buying their vegetables, they became the farmer's partners for advancement. In return, they keep their body healthy and feel better about themselves because they are part of a worthy cause." he said
The farmer employees benefit the most in the framework. First, they get a more stable source of living. They don't need to go to the city for a living. Secondly, they can build their homes and communities in the area. Interact with one another and collaborate on how they will thrive. Third, they learn new skills that will help them improve their lives and their relationship with God. With about 50 families in the area as of 2019, Hectares of Hope is on track in creating a sustainable community where everyone is growing, learning, and contributing.
"Finally, food delivery service helps the enterprise get more revenue and provide a living to riders. The Davao Food Terminal also helps farmers market their products and prevent brokers from exploiting them," Tancho said.
Here are the stories of how the innovation benefits society:
First is a poor 19-year old farmer, an out-of-school youth from a broken family. Since the program requires them to build homes, Tancho offered to help him financially buy the materials (i.e., wood logs, galvanized iron sheets, etc.) The farmer replied, "I cannot accept your help because I want to build my home using my hard-earned money."
"For me, this is not an indication of pride but empowerment. Seeing them looking forward to building their home without any assistance from another is one of the ways to see how the enterprise has brought hope to their farmers' hearts." Tancho said.
Another is a heavily indebted family and was not paid by their farm employer for 23 years. Four to five months from the program, they are debt-free, their home is on its way to renovation, and their child can continue studying in college.
"One of the things that we do is that we have some financial literacy program. One-on-one financial planning sessions with them," Tancho said. This results in a farmer buying insurance coverage for his family and opening a bank account for their savings.
Tancho Baes, Executive Director
Hectares of Hope is committed to holistically transform rural poor communities and get them out of poverty by providing “Opportunity, Not Charity." It created a community of families in an agricultural region, Davao, Philippines (a province in Mindanao, located in the southern part of the country), where they are taught to plant organic crops. In addition, Hectares of Hope supported them through the marketing of these crops. The revenue is used as capital to grow more organic crops and as earnings for the farmers.