Ayala becomes social entrepreneur

| February 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

He became famous for being the namesake of Filipino-Spanish billionaire Jaime Zobel de Ayala, whom he served for six years. In 2009, he left the Ayala conglomerate to follow a new career path and make a better name for himself as a social entrepreneur.

Jaime Ayala

Jaime Ayala

Jaime Ayala established a company called Hybrid Social Solutions Inc., which manufactures and distributes solar-powered radios and flashlights across mountainous areas and remote villages in the country.

He recalls having to climb mountains and cross rivers to deliver the technology innovations to far-flung communities that had no access to electricity.

Three years later, he was recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year for 2012 by Ernst Young and in February this year, he was acknowledged by Geneva-based Schwab Foundation as one of the 24 global social entrepreneurs for 2013.

Ayala will also represent the Philippines in the 2013 World Entrepreneur Awards in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June.  The last time a Filipino won that award was in 2004, when Jollibee Foods Corp. president and chief executive Tony Tan Caktiong bagged the prestigious title.

“It is very good to know there are people rooting for us, believing in what we are doing,” Ayala says, during the recent launching of the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2013 awards in Quezon City.

Ayala, who is not related to the Spanish Zobel de Ayala family, was educated in the US and worked for an American management consulting firm.

He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Economics and minor in Engineering in 1984.  He also obtained his MBA from Harvard School, graduating with honors in 1988.

For nearly two decades, he worked for McKinsey Co. where he eventually became a director and senior partner.  At McKinsey, he was assigned in the US, Mexico, China and Southeast Asia. He headed McKinsey’s Asian energy practice and became president of McKinsey’s Manila office.

Jaime Ayala (standing, third from left) and other 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year awardees during the launching of the 2013 awards.

Jaime Ayala (standing, third from left) and other 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year awardees during the launching of the 2013 awards.

In January 2004, he joined Ayala Land Inc. as executive vice president, before rising as president and chief executive of the property developer.

With that position, he also served as executive of numerous Ayala companies.  In April 2009, he was named as managing director of Ayala Corp., the parent firm of Ayala Land, a position that he held for 11 months or until February 2010.  However, he decided to leave the conglomerate and concentrate on his new venture, focusing on renewable energy.

Aside from Hybrid Social Solutions, he is now the chairman at Stiftung Solarenergie-Solar Energy Foundation (Philippines) and a network partner at Hystra, a global consulting firm that designs and implements hybrid strategies.

He is also a board member of the World Wildlife Fund (Philippines) and the Hero Foundation, and a technical advisor to the Mind Museum.

At Hybrid Social Solutions, he delivered innovative solutions to remote communities under the Hike for Light, Sail for Light and Bike for Light campaign.

In 2012, he was nominated for the social entrepreneur category of the Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, but ended up winning the top prize in October last year.

He also became the first Filipino social entrepreneur to represent the country in the prestigious World Entrepreneur of The Year in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2013.

Ernst Young says Ayala was honored “for his visionary efforts to bridge the power infrastructure gap in the provinces by leveraging on solar-powered technology.”

He was also cited for building an organization that champions social transformation for the poor and marginalized.

In his acceptance speech in October, Ayala advised aspiring entrepreneurs not to hesitate in making the jump as long as they believe in their visions.

“Where development is concerned, together we can do more because the problem is so big, no one person can do it alone,” he says.

Hybrid Social Solutions distributes and services world-class, innovative products designed to help rural communities by providing them access to basic development-oriented goods and services.

The company distributes products, educates users and ensures service in order to improve lives and generate lasting change.  Among its innovative solutions are solar appliances, self-adjustable eyeglasses, efficient stoves and water purifiers.

The company arranges financing through community organizations, organizes local technical support networks and provides user training to ensure long-term sustainability.

It now has more than 40 community organizations across the archipelago that connect about 30,000 individuals to solar power.

On his latest recognition as a social entrepreneur by Schwab Foundation, Ayala says “the award is a testament to the hard work of our team and network of partners to uplift the lives of rural Filipinos.”

“I look forward to joining Schwab’s global network of social entrepreneurs to learn of innovative and game changing approaches for eradicating poverty,” he says.

Among the 2013 awardees is another Filipino social entrepreneur, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches.  Other awardees are from Italy, South Africa, Turkey, the US, Canada, Mexico, India, China, Brazil, Denmark, Indonesia, France, Peru, and Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the SGV Foundation, which is a partner of Ernst Young, noted that the Entrepreneur of the Year Awards have already recognized 141 men and women since 2003.

Among the Entrepreneur of the Year (Philippines) awardees were Caktiong (2003), National Bookstore founder Socoro Ramos (2004), Cebu Air Inc. president and chief executive Lance Gokongwei (2005), La Frutera Inc. chairman and president Senen Bacani (2006), Alaska Milk Corp. president and chief executive Wilfred Steven Uytengsu Jr. (2007), Planters Development Bank chairman and president Jesus Tambunting (2009), Bounty Fresh Food Inc. president Tennyson Chen (2010) and Aboitiz Power Corp. president and chief executive Erramon Aboitiz (2011).

In celebration of its 10th year, the 2013 program selected the theme “Breaking Barriers”.

“Entrepreneurs are undaunted by what many might consider barriers—poverty, lack of technology, geography, gender and many others.  On the contrary, they are most likely challenged by these and motivated to rise above them.  As true entrepreneurs, they embolden themselves to strengthen their will, generate innovative ideas and gather the resources needed to transform hurdles into opportunities,” says program director Antonette Tionko.

Aside from Ayala, other 2012 finalists were Philippine Seven Corp. president and chief executive Jose Victor Paterno (master entrepreneur), Filipino Entrepreneurs Resources Network Inc. president and chief executive Tommanny Tan (emerging entrepreneur), Jomaray Pulp Packaging Industries general manager Jonathan Suy (small business entrepreneur), Art ‘N’ Nature Manufacturing Corp. president and chief executive Venus Genson (woman entrepreneur) and SumoSam Foods Inc. president Marvin Agustin (young entrepreneur).

Organizers of the event say the search is now open for the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year awards, with nomination to be accepted until May 31, 2013.  The awards will be handed in October. RTD

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