Seven years ago, Dylan Wilk and Anne Meloto-Wilk, daughter of Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto, went to the US to set up a network of volunteers for Gawad Kalinga. During this time, Anna noticed the popularity of organic products penetrating the local supermarkets and thought of replicating this in the Philippines.
Anna, together with her sister Camille started brainstorming on how to provide affordable, locally-made natural beauty products for the Filipinos. After much research and a few collaborations, they started a social enterprise called Gandang Kalikasan, Inc, a company that would become the biggest producer of natural personal care products under the brand name Human Nature.
Beginnings of a Social Entrepreneur
Anna’s love for the country started at a very young age. Her parents would bring her and two younger sisters to different places in the country to let them appreciate the beauty of the Philippines. Her father would also expose her to the slums to show what life is on the other end of the spectrum.
She narrated the time when her father brought her to Bagong Silang at age sixteen to interact with the juvenile delinquents of the area. “Needless to say, it was a life-changing moment for me. I realized that we are all the same, each person is our equal and we need to treat everybody with dignity and respect.”
Anna had visions of climbing the corporate ladder after graduating from Ateneo de Manila University in 2000. She tried her luck in media and advertising but something inside her wanted more. She knew that she wanted to be an agent of change and make an impact in the lives of people. She knew that many people can do her job in advertising but few are given the chance to do something that can make an impact to the nation.
Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor, and Pro-Environment
According to Anna, the desire of Human Nature is to help improve the lives of the Filipinos. Its vision is to be a leading force in restoring the dignity of people and eradicate poverty in the country.
Being pro-poor, Anna believes in hiring from the poor and investing in their training and human development. A third of the employees come from poor communities of Gawad Kalinga and they are given wages that are double the minimum wage required by the government. “Minimum wage is not enough for them to live quality lives.” Anna added that more than the money, people should be taught financial stewardship to make the most of their earnings.
In a commencement speech she delivered in 2012, she stressed the importance of supporting Filipino social enterprises and buying Filipino products. “Make business decisions that will benefit our country. Love of country is good for the economy and great for business.”
Anna had a dream, “to become the first multinational social enterprise” and “to use business to build a better Filipino society, especially the poor.”
The dream is now becoming a reality as Human Nature is on its way to becoming the leader in distributing natural and organic cosmetics and personal products to the Philippines and to many parts of the world.