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People seldom choose a path towards self-discovery, a path that may lead to establishing self-sustaining programs designed to enable others to discover their true potentials.
In 2005, Kristine “Krie” Reyes-Lopez found herself in a crisis. Although she was the head of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department of a big corporation, she often felt the need to do more and perhaps do something on her own. Not wanting to rely on other people’s money in order to continuously create positive change, Lopez chose the latter.
As a Management Engineering graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University, Lopez has often been guided by the Jesuit ideals of magis, a philosophy which revolves around the idea of being and doing more, ultimately becoming a woman for others.
CSR at the core of Messy Bessy
Pursuing an advocacy that is focused on restoring the lives of the disadvantaged youth, Lopez established Messy Bessy in 2007. Messy Bessy, the first business of Lopez's project HOUSE (Helping Ourselves through Sustainable Enterprises), is a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of all-natural, non-toxic household and personal care products. The business sustains development programs for the young adults who are provided with work training, formal education in high school and tertiary levels, work ethic enhancement programs and counselling.
“Our social program is the heart of our company. We’ve developed a very unique and replicable, sustainable program that enables young adults to gain work experience and capacity building through our business,” Lopez said.
Messy Bessy is tied up with over 30 foundations and depressed communities from which the young adults come from. Hoping to make a difference in their lives, Lopez established Messy Bessy to enable these young adults to develop good work ethic and preparedness in a work environment. These young adults who she fondly calls her “kids” are given the opportunity to become financially independent and to ultimately get themselves out of poverty.
“For the youth of today who would like to make something of themselves, work ethic is extremely important,” stressed Lopez. “In the work force, that’s the first thing that people look for. It’s really a way for you to maximize and optimize all the opportunities around you. If you don’t have a good work ethic, what you’ve learned [in school] would be irrelevant.”
Eight years into the business, and on the onset of their first college graduate, Lopez proudly admits that this time around, Messy Bessy spurred some noise around its social programs.
“We are now more confident about our social innovations,” Lopez said. “Hopefully, as a way to inspire others to do the same, we’ll be able to face social challenges with more innovative and creative means through business.”
Lopez plans on firming up Messy Bessy by hiring the right people to grow the business. Her management team is made up of very experienced and capable individuals who have intensive background in growing businesses and leading much bigger companies.
“We are continuously setting ourselves up for growth. By hiring the right people and instilling the right company culture, we remain true to our core - providing countless opportunities for our young adults and improving the quality of our products,” said Lopez.
As Messy Bessy continuously gains ground as a trusted brand for environment-friendly products and a sustainable social business model, there are still struggles faced while growing the company.
In the constant effort of trying to find the right solutions to further expand Messy Bessy and its social programs, Lopez admits that she finds comfort in her openness to continuously learn and discover new things. With the recent trip to Silicon Valley organized by PLDT Smart SME Nation to winners of the #BeTheBoss search, Lopez expressed her gratitude to PLDT for giving her the opportunity to encounter new experiences and meet new people.
“I’m always eager to meet a lot of very successful and inspirational people,” Lopez said. “I also recognize the fact that I’m far from being a great leader and our company is far from being a great company. But that mindset alone allows me to always be thirsty to be better.”
Recounting her Silicon Valley experience as life-changing, Lopez recalled how the program enabled her to see things anew and in a whole different light. Immersing herself in the experience of going to places where entrepreneurship is greatly encouraged, Lopez greatly appreciated the opportunity to be with some of the biggest names of respectable entrepreneurs.
“I was at a place where entrepreneurship is really encouraged at a level I’ve never seen,” Lopez said. “It was a place where people were encouraged to face solutions head on.”
Lopez narrates her eye-opening experience at Singularity University, where people sincerely believed all problems in the world can be solved by technology. According to Lopez, they were shown virtual reality, robots, 3D printing and even 3D printing organs for transplants.
“People [at Singularity University] really believe they can solve every problem we are facing today through technology, and that kind of mindset is quite mind-blowing and life-changing for me,” Lopez said.
For Lopez, one of the many insights which stood out for her was the time she visited Cupertino where the idea that anything is possible truly inspired her. “Technology is really our tool to be able to solve the many challenges we are facing,” Lopez said. “I’m a convert now. People from Singularity University believe it, and now I kind of believe it, too.”
“The future is really bright for us. People just really need to believe it, and understand that it can really happen,” Lopez added.
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