Meaningful Life: For Maoi Arroyo, Protecting the Environment, Alleviating Poverty, and Empowering Women All Go Hand in Hand - Lifestyle Asia

Sustainable solutions are what we should focus on, according to the Ignite Impact Fund founder, in order to make lasting changes.

“It’s very easy, when you go to a coastal community to tell people to stop dynamite fishing because you’re ruining the corals which is the heritage of humanity and your grandchildren,” says Maoi Arroyo. “They’re just going to look at you and say, ‘What are we going to feed our children tomorrow?’”

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For the Ignite Impact Fund founder, sustainable solutions are needed beyond just mere prohibition in order to alleviate extreme poverty and protect the Philippines’ rich marine environment in coastal communities. Simply put, just restricting destructive fishing practices without replacing them with better means of livelihood will not be enough to solve the problem.

Finding these sustainable solutions is currently one of the focus of Ignite Impact Fund, a social impact investment firm which aims to make meaningful investments.

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“The net present value of our marine biodiversity in the Philippines is $500 million annually, and if we actually harness that sustainably and in the most socially inclusive way possible, that would be increased by 74 percent,” Arroyo says at the World Ocean Summit Asia-Pacific. “What we look for at Ignite is how we can create jobs and increase income in coastal communities.”

The key to getting this done and attracting investors to fund these sustainable solutions is to bring together a network of stakeholders who want to see action be taken in these areas of concern, and marketing it in a way that highlights the opportunity present in the action.

The fund has already invested in Plentina a fast-growing fintech that provides options for “buy now, pay later” store credit with major retailers for essentials and builds a credit score for the user, as well as BioPrime an organic soil conditioner that increases crop yields and decreases inorganic fertilizer use by 50 percent. They have also invested in Quicksilver Ventures, a satellite broadband internet provider that is involved in the Makati Smart City program of Mayor Abby Binay.

“If you started a coral farm, and 70 percent of these corals will be used to revitalize the reefs, and 30 percent will be supplied to the global aquarium market, you’ll provide jobs for coastal communities, you’ll invest in women, you’ll increase their average household income tenfold,” Arroyo points out/ The fund has released a primer on the opportunities in the blue economy in the Philippines on their website that details the coral farm initiative and other investments in this space.

Female first

Investing in women is also one of the key thrusts of Ignite. Arroyo says that they believe that pushing to fund more women and achieving gender equality will actually lead to more economic gains for businesses, companies, and even countries.

Speaking at “Striking Stereotypes: the Rise of Women Leadership,” an online event presented by the American Chamber of Commerce, Arroyo stressed the need to achieve gender equality in the workplace not just in the Philippines, but all around the world.

“The open secret is that the Philippines is not actually gender equal. Gender equality is more than pay and inclusion, and it is still really bad in rural areas,” said Arroyo in her presentation. “We really need more people to invest in women and in the investment philosophy of women, because you’re going to make money.”

She emphasized that Gender equality “actually translates to money. You would actually have a GDP increase if gender equality was achieved—you’d have a two percent increase in the UK, a nine percent increase in Japan, a 27 percent increase in India, and a $5.3-trillion dollar increase all around the globe. It’s about time we have more of a say.”

The world is currently seeing a major transfer of wealth to women and millennials, Arroyo says, and they want to push for more impact investing from corporations and high-net worth individuals to help people and the planet.

Women also need to be given bigger influence in the field of investing, as data from Bloomberg has found that only 14 percent of the 25,000 fund managers around the world are women, managing less than one percent of the world’s assets.

Ignite invests in impactful startups with the help of over 30 years of mentoring and managing local enterprises, eventually aiming to lift Filipinos up from extreme poverty.

Companies that Ignite has already invested in include Quicksilver Satcom Ventures, which provides satellite-based internet connectivity to underserved and unserved areas in the Philippines; Plentina, a credit app that gives the unbanked access to credit they can use in stores and merchants; and BioPrime, a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner that accelerates plant growth yield and increases farmers’ income.

In addition to this, Ignite is also currently in the process of investing and developing more startups around the Philippines. With Arroyo and Ignite’s passion and drive, it’s entirely possible to see the Philippines and the world become a better place for women and underprivileged communities.

For more information on Ignite Impact Fund, follow their official Facebook page at facebook.com/IgniteImpactPH and visit their website at Igniteimpact.fund.

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