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Ecotourism, crowd-funding, and women


By Flor G. Tarriela


I recently attended the 2017 Subic Ecotourism festival organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism (ISST) headed by former Secretary of Tourism Mina Gabor.  The festival was held in celebration of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  The spotlight is on ecotourism, as the Philippines is rich in natural resources and biodiversity.  The conference theme is “Ecotourism Driving Sustainability:  Asean & Beyond” featuring well known speakers from the Global tourism Network (GEN), Asian Ecotourism Network (AEN) and other world-class tourism icons and specialists such as landscape architect Hitesh Mehta who spoke on indigenous communities and eco trends.

An interesting topic was unlocking potential through innovative capital- raising solutions presented by Paul Niederer, CEO of Raiseworth Capital, Australia. Paul says technical disruption happened with the entry of the Internet. And now, especially with millennials, there is a desire to connect meaningfully with items they purchase and invest in.

What are the basic essentials for good capital-raising especially crowd-funding? Paul says start with the end in mind and gives four (4) basic elements:

  1. Story

Have a story that is convincing, compelling and credible.  He gave the example of the bee story, please see

Paul gave some leading questions to answer:

What’s your story?

What is the problem, is it relevant?

How are you solving it?

Who will care enough to write you a check?

  1. Team implementors

Need to assemble a balanced, passionate, experienced, capable and “likable” team, who should also be credible:

Who feels the same way you do about the problem that will help you?

How will you do it?  What will you need?

How will you make money?

How much will it cost?

  1. Empathy traction

The project should have a heart connection and not just money connection.  There should be a good number of people who feels the same way to share this story and engage with them.

Who is helped by solving the problem?

How do you reach them?

How big is the market?  What is the potential?

  1. Platform

There is a process or platform to gather the investors in a compliant way.

Chit Juan,Chair of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN), who just attended a conference in Singapore also shared her insights on crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing.

What are these buzzwords and how popular are they? Chit says, you can check your Facebook for a simple example of crowd-sourcing. People post “Where can I eat Hainanese chicken rice in Quezon City?” and friends start to post their favorite Chicken Rice places. That is crowd-sourcing, simply done. Some may post “Where can I find this?” along with a photo of a gadget. And soon enough, people respond and give options. Now, think of that in a bigger scale and you have what looks like tons of data you can use for your business.

Chit says crowd-funding also employs the same idea but it goes farther by making a pitch or selling a story of a project that needs funds. Readers or listeners affected by the story is moved to the point they start to invest money.

According to Mouna Aouri Langendorf of Woomentum, a crowd-funding company in Singapore(, the crowd-funding industry is now worth US$36 billion. But here’s the catch. She says 80% of the pitches come from women for products and services that appeal to women, of course. Because one thinks of ideas as one that recognizes a need to fill or a problem to solve.

Another crowd-funder is Laina Greene of Angels of Impact( based in Singapore. Laina seeks out good ideas from women social entrepreneurs and puts them out in her website for like-minded people to come and help fund or promote. There also are opportunities to just learn about these businesses through subscriptions and monthly newsletters sent to members who wish to first understand the new rules of crowd-funding before investing more of their money.

Mina said that crowd-funding is the answer for people who is moved in the same way for a cause, would like to help, even invest, but have limited funds.  And it encourages those without millions but passionate about the story.  She said she has actually started crowd-funding with the creation of a road safety training park in Subic in response to the more than 500 children injured every day in the Philippines.  For Chit, it’s helping women bring village products to global markets.

So, maybe, it’s now time for crowd-funding to start in a bigger scale in the country.


Ms. Flor G. Tarriela is Chairman of PNB and a Director of FINEX. She was formerly Undersecretary of Finance and the First Filipina Vice President of Citibank N.A.  She is a natural farmer whose advocacy is “No Filipino Should be Hungry” and co-authored gardening books “Ooops, DON’T THROW THOSE WEEDS AWAY! and THE SECRET IS IN THE SOIL.

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