Rizal de­scen­dant global so­cial en­tre­pre­neur

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Lito Gu­tier­rez Con­trib­u­tor

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.

Startup

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.”

IPO, re­mit­tance

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.

Ed­u­ca­tion

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.

Fenc­ing team

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.”

Rizal sis­ter

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.

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