Edison – founder of BigNayFarm, a permaculture coffee and cacao farm.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
Learning that the key of all of this was actually my level of engagement with the people I’m working with. I try to encourage people to take different kind of business, to turn into organic and permaculture farming. And I can’t do that without a deep level of engagement. It’s more than just proving that my way is more profitable. It’s about building a relationship and understanding the philosophy behind it. When I learned that and proved that mainly to myself… it’s a big achievement. During the first months of managing the farm I went through many things. I had 12 team members and I needed to let them go because I didn’t feel they understood what I want to do. And I can’t stay at the farm all the time, I feel I’m more effective on other ways, so I needed to find a farm manager. The success came when through trying to be a part of the community as much as possible I managed to find this person which was working with me. We became friends. He asked me why I came here from a richer country and why I do this which is not profitable, why, why, why. The more we talked the more he understood what I was doing, so when the time to move to Manila came, he offered to work with me. He said he believes in what I’m doing and it was a big success. I affected somebody, somebody believed in me.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
I think my biggest challenge is and will always be living in a balanced way. I believe that if you can live your life in a balanced way, all decisions you make are easier and positive. I grew up in another country, it’s a big struggle for me personally adapting to the place and that’s my biggest challenge, struggle. Sometimes I have doubts, what I’m doing here. I went to Sydney for Christmas to my family and everything was so much easier. Transport works, I helped my brother to register the company and it took two days… while my farm is not even register yet. I walked through many different offices in the Philippines to talk to people… the system is so much different. I have a lot of doubts and now I’m also getting super involved in tech startup which I work for, it takes a lot of my energy. It’s challenging to remind myself that my primary objective is farm and conservation work. The biggest challenge is personal, remain to my philosophy and my vision with all outside factors distracting me.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
I think I need a network of people I can talk to. People who can understand some of the challenges I’m facing. It will help me with all that pressure I feel.
Would you like to add something more?
I came to the Philippines March last year from New Zealand, but I have Filipino origin, both my parents are Filipinos. I was a police officer, I knew that I wanted to help people but through some personal reasons I decided to quit my career and I thought what I should do next. It was a long personal journey, I backpacked through New Zealand, I was travelling across South East Asia. And I found out that the best way to help people was to promote balance lifestyle through doing that myself. I moved here, south of Manila, to start a coffee and cacao permaculture farm. It is a for-profit social enterprise. My business model is exporting coffee and cacao to New Zealand, and I use the profits to continue conservation works in this region which is my actually priority.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Manila, Philippines, 24th February 2016