Rizal descendant global social entrepreneur
SAN FRANCISCO—ROGER FEDERER has one and so do Mikhail Barishnykov, Celine Dion, Russell Crow and Tedjie Herbosa. Tedjie who?
Edgardo “Tedjie” Herbosa was a Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) awardee in 2005. If the name does not ring a bell, he is in a field that shuns the spotlight.
He has been based in Silicon Valley since 2006 working on his next social venture and traveling the globe giving talks on social entrepreneurship.
The World Bank has recognized the viability of his projects and is offering him more funding support to make his projects global.
And the US government, seeing the socioeconomic promise of Herbosa’s projects, has encouraged the entrepreneur to spend as much time in America by giving him an O-1 visa, a distinction he shares with the Swiss tennis champion, the legendary Russian dancer, the Canadian singer and the Australian actor.
O-1 visas are given to aliens “with extraordinary ability in their field of expertise.”
Herbosa got his TOYM for community development. He submitted an e-commerce platform, b2bpricenow.com, that seeks to raise farmers’ income by eliminating brokers and giving them “through their cooperatives, direct access to buyers” of their produce.
By doing business online, Herbosa said, “cooperatives and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) know what buyers are looking for,” giving them a better idea of “what to plant, who to sell to, (and) reducing significantly the risk of not being paid.”
He said that with his partnership with Land Bank of the Philippines, which later became an investor, b2b had become the online transaction facility of some 3,700 cooperatives and 5,400 SMEs doing business with each other.
B2b has the official endorsement of the bicameral congressional oversight committee on agriculture fisheries modernization.
To start up his b2b project, Herbosa used the the top prize ($118,000) he won in the 2002 World Bank Development Marketplace Competition.
B2b also won the 2004 Stockholm Challenge, a European- based competition that since 1994 has been giving out awards for information technology-based enterprises “that promote democratic governance and give users influence over and a measure of control of the services delivered by the project.”
Herbosa is now in Manila to check out b2b’s progress not only in e-commerce but in m-commerce. He is talking to his brother, Tony, for b2b’s IPO (initial public offering).
In an interview before he left San Francisco, where he has been based for several years, Herbosa said he was focused on the launch of an online money remittance platform “that allows senders to have themost convenient, efficient and inexpensive way to send money, and the recipient in the Philippines to get more of the money being sent from the United States.”
By allowing a remitter in the United States to use his or her credit card or bank account, rushremit.com would drastically reduce the transaction fee money remittance outlets charge, with an average savings of $5 per transaction for every $250 being sent.
“The remitter could pass on the savings to the recipient,” Herbosa said. The amount is substantial, considering that many remitters send money at least 12 times a year.
In this project, rushremit.com has been endorsed as the “official online re- mittance partner” of the top four Philippine banks (BDO, Metrobank, BPI and LBP) “a first in Philippine remittance history,” Herbosa said. The banks all have money service business (MSB) operations in the United States.
Herbosa went to Ateneo de Manila for primary and high school, to the University of the Philippines for a political science degree, and the top-rated (by the US News and World Report and the Financial Times of London) Thunderbird School of Global Management in Phoenix, Arizona, for a master’s degree in international management.
He is so far the only person who has been awarded two fellowships on social entrepreneurship with Santa Clara University and Stanford University, both in California.
At 45, Herbosa is at an age when most men start to go downhill physically. But he has kept the athletic physique that he had when he was in the first batch of participants in the Marlboro Adventure Team competitions, and part of the Philippine fencing team to the Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta in 1987 and Kuala Lumpur in 1989.
He continued to practice fencing with the Stanford team during his fellowship stint. Recently, he has been training for a triathlon, which he says half in jest, “has become more of a “try-athlon.”
There could be a genetic explanation for Herbosa’s ardor for achievement. He has direct bloodlines to Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Herbosa’s great, great grandmother was one of Rizal’s sisters, Lucia.
It is a relationship that he would rather keep to himself. “With ‘Noli’ and ‘Fili’ (referring to Rizal’s novels ‘Noli Me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo’), Lolo Jose lit the fuse that would trigger the revolution that would free Filipinos from Spanish oppression,” Herbosa said.
“Me, I just have b2b and rushremit as a means to help free us from economic oppression. I just hope I don’t get shot.”
HERBOSA: Recognition fromWorld Bank, US for his projects.