Rexy Dorado – founder of Kaya Co. “Kaya ko” means “I can.” In the same spirit, Kaya Co. envisions a global Filipino community that holds power in the collective. They dream of Filipino changemakers empowered in tackling local issues, and a diaspora that’s ready to listen, understand, and act in solidarity as the global hands and voices of home.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
It’s the people we brought together. The most exciting thing is the relationship between people. We build a network of Filipino changemakers and social entrepreneurs which we connect to young Filipinos and entrepreneurs who live now outside of the Philippines. And people start to come back here for longer, not just for our programs, and create ideas together.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
The first couple of years, when we brought a small groups to the Philippines, it was easy to find people who want to try and experience that: coming back to the Philippines and working for social entrepreneurs. Now, there is still a lot of that kind of people, but there is more and more people around them who are not interested in the Philippines, people who are not as involved in social entrepreneurship, development, dialogues… How can we connect them to the Philippines in a substantial way and encourage them to play a rule?
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
Funding of course… other than that it’s finding the right entrepreneurial leaders, having people doing things by themselves. This is something which can make a huge difference. It’s slowly happening. It’s those leaders who are able to involve more and more young people, bring them together. We are still wondering how to support this. Right now there are 3.000 Filipino communities, organizations only in the US. How do we shift their meetings, dancing together or whatever activity it is to be more about changemaking, whether it is volunteering from far, fundraising or sharing Filipino stories so they become more visible.
Would you like to add something more?
I moved to the US when I was 11. In the middle school and high school I really tried to fit to the new environment. It changed when I went to college. I got to know the American-Filipino community there, I also came to visit the Philippines, just for 2 weeks, but it was a changing point when I realized how much I want to reconnect. Half of my college was about that. On the other side I started courses in development studies, economic, anthropology. I read a lot about how to change the world and I got excited about social entrepreneurship. I spent all college balancing between Filipino culture and development, social entrepreneurship. And only in the last year I realized I was never able to bring those two things together. So I started to do it, at the same time speaking more and more with people from American-Filipino community, they asked themselves the same questions, what they want to do, what they want to change and how to connect to the Philippines. I did a couple of internships for social enterprises, which inspired me quite a lot. I started to get to know entrepreneurship and social change ecosystem in the Philippines. That’s when the idea of Kaya Collaborative happened. The first idea was to create opportunities which I would have loved to have. We created 8-week summer internship program, we bring small groups of young Filipinos from all over the world to be back to their country and intern in local social enterprises. They learn from different leaders how the Philippines has changed and we also develop their leader skills so they are able to act once they come back to the countries they live in. They share the stories and do things themselves.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Manila, Philippines, 23rd February 2016