Top startups honored at ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator 

Excellence in Filipino entrepreneurship was displayed when the ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program Cohort 3, funded by the European Union (EU) and led by the International Trade Centre (ITC), in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry – Competitiveness Innovation Group (DTI-CIG) and QBO Innovation, recognized the most outstanding startups at its recently concluded Demo Day on June 25, 2024, at the Blue Leaf Pavilion, Taguig City.

Launched in 2021 and now in its third cohort, the ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program is a 14-week program aimed at providing internationalization support to youth-led startups.

Rene “Butch” Meily, President of Ideaspace | QBO Innovation, expressed his gratitude, stating, “I’d like to thank our partners, the European Union, the International Trade Council, and DTI for their support. Europe is an often untapped market for us. Through the ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program, we hope that Filipino startups can gain access to this crucial market and establish a foothold for exports.”

The Demo Day, attended by a diverse audience of key partners, investors, and stakeholders, marked the culmination of the program for 12 business startups from various verticals.

The esteemed judging panel who evaluated the startups’ pitches and shared valuable insights included Assistant Secretary Althea Karen Antonio, DTI Foreign Trade Service Corps (FTSC); Miguel Lopez, Youth Entrepreneurship National Expert, ITC; Shoraliah Macalbe, Head of Startup Development, Ideaspace | QBO Innovation; Dara Ever Juan, Head of PLDT Innovations Laboratory and Ecosystem Partnerships (INNOLAB), PLDT; and Rodrigo Alarcon, Studio Director, ThinkPlace.

Mylo Speech Buddy, the developer of a speech development app for children with autism and speech delays, clinched first place, securing a pitch prize of $2,500, or around PHP 146,000.

“Our experience joining the ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program has been great. The support provided by QBO Innovation and the insights from ITC have been invaluable. I believe our win underscores the importance of the service we provide to the market. Our winnings will play a crucial role in our efforts to further grow the company and help more Filipino families,” said Mylo Speech Buddy founder Vincent Rocha.

BCRemit, a London-based fintech company founded by Pinoys empowering Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with efficient money transfers, was awarded second place and received a $1,500 grant, or around PHP 87,000.

“Our focus has been on penetrating more markets geographically to reach more migrant workers. The grant we won will fund our expansion plans to the United States,” said BCRemit co-founder and director Gio Calma.

Lastly, fashion brand PAMMÉ, which crafts sustainable accessories from recycled plastic made by women deprived of liberty, secured third place with a $1,000 pitch prize, or about PHP 58,000.

“The ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program has been remarkable. With its main focus on internationalization, I’m grateful that they have opened doors for us to explore global markets. At PAMMÉ, a fashion social enterprise, we take pride in this win,” shared PAMMÉ founder Pamela Meija.

Other participating startups in the ARISE Plus Ye! Boost Accelerator Program Cohort 3 included: Capilli, a social enterprise creating eco-friendly products from upcycled human hair waste; Hibla Philippines, a social enterprise preserving Philippine weaving traditions; IndieCo, an SEO company blending human creativity with AI for business content; Nama Urban Farms, an urban agriculture startup cultivating nutritious produce; Nutricoach Inc., a platform aiding dietitians in building and scaling nutrition clinics; Prezenter, a company that simplifies presentations in under 10 seconds, helping teachers put their lessons on Smart TVs; Reelist8, a proptech x Shoppertainment marketplace for real estate transactions; REPAMANA, a circular fashion brand repurposing hotel textiles into new garments; and TERPCAP Inc., an accessibility solutions provider for inclusive workplaces..

In addition to the cash prizes, the program, under the strategic partnerships facilitated by QBO Innovation, ITC, and DTI-CIG, will provide the top three winners opportunities to build stronger networks with EU partners and investors to support their global market expansion.

QBO Innovation, a division of Ideaspace that consults for and engages with government agencies, academic institutions, international development agencies, and private sector enterprises, provided support and guidance to the participating startups throughout the program via workshops and mentorship sessions.

Also, the DTI, in partnership with the EU and ITC, has unveiled a comprehensive mapping report to identify and leverage growth opportunities for young Filipino entrepreneurs and ecosystem actors, such as Technology Business Incubators (TBIs), which offer specialized programs to propel the Philippine economy forward.

The report, “Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in the Philippines – Network Analysis and Mapping of Institutions Supporting Youth Entrepreneurship,” aims to foster an inclusive environment where young entrepreneurs can thrive, innovate, and contribute to sustained economic development.

In her video message, ITC Head of Youth and Trade Mayara Louzada highlighted the country’s young entrepreneurship landscape:

“We have found that the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Philippines is young and rapidly developing, with an emphasis on economic development, inclusion, and innovation to attract investment. Both the government and private sectors actively support young innovators aiming to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, especially as many turn to entrepreneurship due to a lack of quality job opportunities.”

However, she identified market gaps in the report, including confusion over the roles of different government departments, limited access to funding, and the lack of continuous and sustainable programs for youth-led businesses, especially outside Metro Manila.

The report’s recommendations include creating a TBI info-sharing network to streamline access to relevant updates and content, establishing a country guide to support services for entrepreneurs, and expanding support beyond the tech sector.

The report also reiterates the government’s critical role in supporting the continuous advancement of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and developing young entrepreneurs.

DTI Undersecretary Rafaelita “Fita” Aldaba stated, “We’re working together with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and other government agencies to ensure that our economic relationships are fundamental to our strategy, competition, innovation, and productivity. We cannot remain static—our industries cannot stay stagnant. Therefore, we are committed to supporting the growth and development of startups in the Philippines.”

The Philippine startup ecosystem has shown continuous growth despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the country ranked 52nd globally, with thriving industries including fintech (19%), e-commerce (7%), education and healthcare (5.2%), and agriculture (3.1%).

To get full access to the report, you may download a copy via this link (https://social.yecommunity.com/news/2053326).

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