THE launch of the newly-upgraded Berjaya Garden Restaurant and Culinary Centre (BGRCC) is the latest achievement in a mission to end poverty in the Philippines.
The centre is located within GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, a training facility that is touted as the first “farm village university” in Asia.
The farm was built by Gawad Kalinga (GK), a Philippine-based movement that aims to end poverty by giving the poor the right tools for a sustainable livelihood.
It has found a generous partner and benefactor in Berjaya Corporation Bhd founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan.
The culinary centre measuring 300sqm, was first launched in 2013, thanks to a PHP4.5mil (RM400,295) contribution by Berjaya Philippines.
Berjaya Philippines donated another PHP26.3mil (RM2.3mil) in 2016 to construct the improved BGRCC.
The new 755sqm facility consists of a main dining area, function room, kitchen, pathways, garden and an environmentally friendly design to tap solar energy and rainwater harvesting.
Providing a livelihood for local farmers, food for BGRCC is locally produced, sourced and processed and it also serves as a school for students and social entrepreneurs to develop their culinary skills and products.
Berjaya Corp’s first collaboration with GK started in 2012 when Tan, through Berjaya Philippines, pledged to contribute PHP300mil (RM26.9mil) over three years for the construction of 3,000 houses for Filipinos affected by natural calamities as well as poverty-stricken families.
“GK is a fantastic organisation that every country, even developed ones, should have.
“Many affordable homes are built but still the poor could not afford these homes.
“GK builds homes and allows them to stay for free while nurturing them towards a sustainable livelihood,” said Tan at the inauguration of BGRCC in the Philippines.
He pledged to increase the number of homes to 5,000 because of the great admiration and respect he has for GK.
“About 1,000 homes have been completed. We are pleased to support what GK has been doing.
“The masses support our business and helping to uplift society from poverty will result in a better future for all segments of the community.
“We are trying to play our role as a good corporate citizen so that we are deserving of the support from the community and the country,” said Tan, adding that he had plans to start a similar initiative in Sabah.
Apart from the restaurant and culinary centre, the 43ha farm comprises production facilities and social enterprises to enable a sustainable community.
Currently, the farm has 500 residents and is training 150 students to be social entrepreneurs.
It also has 350 beds to accommodate corporate teambuilding and camping activities.
Speaking at a press conference after the launch, Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation Inc founder and chairman Tony Meloto emphasised that their focus was on rural development.
“Usually the poor are just recipients of small acts of charity but what we have here is an investment of a global conglomerate with the GK Enchanted Farm.
“Working together with local and international corporations, the farm not only creates jobs for the poor but most importantly, it has the facilities to train them to become social entrepreneurs.”
Meloto added that the six-year-old farm had generated more than 300 jobs and incubated more than 50 social enterprises.
The launch was held in conjunction with the 4th Global Social Business Summit, which saw 600 social entrepreneurs, local and corporate partners, community leaders, advocates as well as students from over 20 countries including Malaysia, gathered at the farm.
Themed “Social Market: Disruption for Shared Prosperity Now”, the three-day summit highlighted the need to raise a new generation of leaders who will build their businesses on integrity.
Formally established in 2003, GK has a presence in Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Canada, United States, Austria, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Britain, Australia and Papua New Guinea.