Bacolod-based social enterprise Bagosphere won the top prize of 100,000 Australian dollars (Php3.9 million) last April 19 in Frontier Innovators, a search for innovative businesses in the Asia-Pacific by the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Bagosphere, together with 14 other finalists, bested over 700 applications from more than 31 countries in the region. The search looks for exceptional businesses in the region that are delivering impact by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the areas of health, agriculture, environment, education and finance.
Along with the 100,000 Australian dollars grant, Bagosphere will also receive six months of “tailored support” through mentorship and advising through the help of Frontier Innovators, as well as access to networking for potential partners and investors.
Bagosphere is a local social enterprise from Bacolod, Negros Occidental that helps “out-of-school, disconnected, and disadvantaged youth and individuals” to find careers in high-growth industries by providing relevant education and focused training.
“Bagosphere’s training program has proven effective, with an 80-percent job placement rate within one month from graduation, and graduates earning up to four times more than their unskilled counterparts,” the company said in a statement.
Bagosphere is a Bacolod-based social enterprise that helps “out-of-school, disconnected, and disadvantaged youth and individuals” to find careers in high-growth industries by providing relevant education and focused training
The enterprise, which was founded by Zhihan Lee, provides access to micro-funded education in digital and soft skills to youths in both rural and urban areas. Just last February, Lee was inducted as one of the nine Ashoka fellows in the Philippines, making him part of the world’s most prestigious circle of social innovators.
Among Bagosphere’s partners are Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, Globe Telecom’s Kickstart Ventures, Panasiatic Solutions, Teleperformance, Transcom, Tzu Chi Foundation and Ateneo de Manila University. Last year, the company was also a finalist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s 2017 SOLVE Global Challenge.
“The team is dedicated to student success, with a commitment to share job opportunities six months post-graduation and through an alumni network that students can tap into for job and mentorship opportunities,” the company said.
* This article was corrected on May 15, 2018 to state that Zhihan Lee was one of nine Ashoka Fellows in the Philippines, rather than the ninth Filipino Ashoka Fellow. We apologize for the error.
Pauline Macaraeg is a staff writer of Entrepreneur PH. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg