Got Heart?

Got heart, will ______________.

It’s a blank you can fill in with everything and almost anything. For Got Heart foundation, it’s a phrase that sums up why they exist, what they do, and, most especially, it describes the local communities they work with. I sat down with Melissa Yeung, the founder of the little organic & local products shop that could, and she shared with me what having heart can do.

Got heart, will dream.

Since she was in high school, Melissa’s dreams involved mountains, meeting other Filipinos, seeing the country, and helping people raise the bar on the quality of their lives. The dreams stuck.

The dreams made her exchange her ideal life of simple mountain living for a masters in business. They stayed with her as she tried to jumpstart Got Heart in 2007. And they kept her afloat when later on, she figured out it wasn’t working. The first three dreams were simple, the last one, not so much.

It was a crisis all social enterprises go through: keeping the business alive VS maximizing the impact you make on the people you’re helping. Her biggest learning from all of it? You gotta surround yourself with people who have the same vision as you to make it work.

Now Got Heart is staffed with scholars she and her friends helped out when they were in high school – people who’ve experienced a helping hand and want to pay it forward.

Got heart, will serve.

Got Heart Foundation gathers up the best products from grassroots communities and puts them all in one store. Buy from them and you get good quality products¬†while give the communities an opportunity to keep on producing and working for themselves. A small purchase goes a long way. Show them that their products are being appreciated and more than giving them money, it gives them pride ūüôā

At the moment, Melissa says they’re collaborating with a little over 100 communities around the Philippines. Fresh produce comes from farmers in Benguet and Tarlac, and from the Mangyans of Mindoro. Handmade toys come from Tarlac. Beautiful recycled jewelry comes from Dumaguete. Coffee from the Mountain Province, wine from Tarlac, jam from Bontoc, wild honey from the¬†Tagbanuas¬†and so on and so forth.

Here there are no middlemen. After what keeps the foundation sustainable, everything goes to the producers.

If you’re curious, here are some of the stuff on their shelves:
Got heart, will flourish.
A foundation isn’t just fueled by good will, it’s sacrifice, and constantly being reminded of the problems that hound your business and your partner communities. But the work pays off.
In 2011, Got Heart received the Zonta Award for Poverty Alleviation. In 2013, Melissa was counted as one of JCI Osaka’s Outstanding Young Persons of 2013. And after opening branches in Esteban Abada and White Plains, Got Heart is putting up two more shops in Davao.
And then there’s,¬†Earth Kitchen.
Earth Kitchen is a restaurant that serves organic food made with products from Got Heart’s partner communities. A joint project with Hizon’s Catering, it’s a social enterprise that benefits from the foundation and vice versa :)I haven’t tried it yet but I’m looking forward to it because I’ve been hearing so many good things about the food there.

Got Heart?
Why the name? Because love is making the most of the resources available to you so that you can make ¬†life better for you and the people around you. And goodness is making sure that other people’s efforts don’t go to waste.
Having heart takes courage, as Melissa and the people from Got Heart’s partner communities can tell you. Have you got heart?