Filipina Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, 29, has been featured as one of the top young social entrepreneurs by Forbes on their “30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs” for 2015.
Ruiz, an Ateneo graduate, is the only Filipina who was included by the famous magazine on the said list.
She has introduced opportunities for women and the poor in the Payatas dump in Quezon City through her for-profit social enterprise, Rags2Riches Inc. It is a business venture that turned into a livelihood projects Ruiz’ co-founded in 2007.
Ruiz has taught women from the poor communities to create marketable “eco-ethical” bags, eyeglass cases, wine bottles and home accessories using scrap and indigenous fabric and organic materials. R2R also trained more than 900 Filipino community-based artisans who distribute their goods to retail outlets both here and abroad.
Moreover, well-known designers including Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Aluna and Olivia d’Aboville collaborated with the enterprise. Its products have been endorsed by celebrity stylist Liz Uy, TV hosts Bianca Gonzales and Kim Jones and news anchor Ces Drilon.
Forbes stated that R2R is the “first fashion and design house empowering community artisans in the Philippines.”
“It has trained 900 artisans and directly employs 50 people–professionals, in-house artisans, marketers, and strategists who are all working together towards the same goal. The organization experienced a consistent 100% annual growth rate for their first five years in existance (2007-2012),” the magazine said.
Forbes staff Erin Carlyle said that Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, currently on its third year, compiles a list of an “elite group of people who are directing their talent and conviction to better the world.”
Carlyle also stated on the magazine’s official website that more than a hundred young entrepreneurs were nominated and the competition was “steep.”
Local media reported that this is not firs time Ruiz has been recognized for her endeavor. She received the Rolex Young Laureate award in 2010.