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In 2008, before buying organic, natural, sustainable or local became trendy in the Philippines, the one-stop social enterprise ECHOstore was born. Conceptualized by three like-minded friends Jeannie Javelosa, Pacita “Chit” Juan and Regina “Reena” Francisco over dinner, ECHOstore (an acronym for Environment, Community, Hope and Organization) started out as a project the trio of women could work on together for the second half of their lives. It was a perfect marriage of each of their strengths: Javelosa for her love for local culture; Juan for her work with NGOs; and Francisco for her retail savvy.
While on their travels in 2004, the former CEO and COO of Figaro Coffee respectively, Juan and Francisco found out that organic coffee in Africa was very much like the coffee found in the Philippines. Through the help of NGO’s, they found their organic coffee farmers who needed fertilizer to continue production. The pair offered to buy the coffee at a premium as long as it was kept organic. This was their beginning of creating sustainability for farmers. Moreover, Juan believed that more than just drinking organic coffee, she had to think about where the food she ate came from, too.
Meanwhile Javelosa, who had been espousing a bohemian lifestyle, was finding it difficult to go all over the metro to find organic products. When the trio got together, it made sense: why not get everything you need in once space while helping local communities at the same time? “The motive was quite selfish,” said Javelosa.
ECHOstore offers everyday items such as body care, cleaning supplies and food products. The difference is that aside from profits, the business cares about the planet and its people, too. At the beginning, the products offered by the NGO’s needed direction and input from the women. “We wanted to ensure we’d sell things that we’d like and buy, as well as at a level that’s kind of global. We are aware of international trends, we travel, and we do so much beautiful work in the country, why can’t we just represent the best of our country?” said Javelosa.
“ECHOstore became a sort of incubation lab for small and medium enterprises, small companies and NGO projects that that had short inventory levels,” said Francisco. At ECHOstore, sellers could get feedback from customers about their products and make them better.
People who were new at espousing green or adding organic to their lives could start at ECHOstore. “It’s about the little steps—begin with body care, then you move onto cleaning supplies, then the food you eat,” says Javelosa. “This is is the beauty of ECHOstore—it’s accepting of everyone and stays middle ground so that it can create a bigger community.”
ECHOstore gathers local Filipino products that are healthy, offer fair trade and care for the environment. Each community product highlights and supports local cultural traditions, the artisan skills of Philippine craftsmen, the hard work of weaving by women, the produce of farmers who till the land. ECHOstore is about rediscovering Filipino design, telling our story and showing off the Pinoy pride in all of us.
In addition to ECHOstore, you may also enjoy dining at the ECHOcafe, buying food products from the ECHOdeli, organic produce from the ECHOmarket harvested from the ECHOfarm and finally the ECHOsi Foundation that volunteers, reaches out and helps others.