SAGANÀ: A Case For Creating Abundance
BY: LUCIA JANOSIKOVA
Social entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly important to companies, as their consumers, as well as shareholders, demand more than good financial performance or even quality of products. Companies are judged on how well they do with regard to all involved stakeholders as well as the environment. According to Deloitte, “65% of CEOs rated “inclusive growth” as a top-three strategic concern and many businesses are seeking ways to transform into a social enterprise. But what does social enterprise mean beyond the theoretical?
SAGANÀ is a Swiss social start-up, responsibly sourcing the highest quality, eco-friendly and authentic specialty ingredients while directly supporting the sustainable community livelihoods of our partner-farmers in the Philippines. Our mission is to advocate for healthy living, fair trade, rural community empowerment and environmental sustainability. For SAGANÀ being a social enterprise, means incorporating principles of social and environmental impact into our core strategy. The name SAGANÀ comes from the Philippine ethnic Tagalog language and translates to “abundance”. This is a principle we fully embrace and we strive to achieve abundance across the full value chain. On one end of the spectrum, helping small-holder coconut farmers and their local ecosystem, and on the other end improving the well-being of consumers. Here’s what this means to us specifically:
Economic abundance for farmers
SAGANÀ works with smallholder farmers, cooperatives and fair-trade businesses, sourcing a final product, rather than raw produce, thereby enabling the farmer to extract higher added value from their crops. While the Philippines is the second largest coconut producer in the world, very little added value is captured per hectare. One of the reasons we have chosen for our flagship product a coconut blossom nectar is that much higher value can be extracted from each single coconut tree and five products can be produced from the nectar itself. In addition, there are other benefits to managing the trees. Often, older trees that no longer bear coconuts are used to extract the nectar, making use of the otherwise dormant un-used tree. Currently, only about 2% of suitable trees are used to produce coconut blossom nectar, while more than a third of all coconut trees in the Philippines are ageing and could be used for coconut blossom nectar production. We aim to help support this industry in the Philippines and empower resilient rural farmers trapped in chronic poverty. We estimate that by producing undiluted coconut blossom nectar of the highest quality, in either liquid or powder form, can their earning per tree increase up to five-fold compared to copra (dried kernel of the coconut) production.
Nature abundance thanks to sustainable practices
All the recognized agri-cooperatives and social enterprises we collaborate with employ traditional sustainable and organic agriculture practices. They use multi-layer and/or inter-cropping methods, which help to achieve higher ecosystem resilience, biodiversity and food security. As mentioned previously, our independent partner farmers make use of otherwise dormant trees in the 1-2 hectares of ancestral land they own and live on with an average of 4-6 family members. Additionally, various waste materials such as discarded shells and husks from the coconut trees are used in the production process as fuel, closing the loop on the natural cycle. But there are more benefits! According to the FAO research, 100% coconut sweetener is the most sustainable natural sweetener in the world! The reason is that coconut trees (Cocos Nucifera variety) are drought-resistant, grow easily on different soil types in the tropics year-round, produce over 25 coconut by-products from the roots, fruits to its branches, are excellent carbon sinks and restore damaged soil requiring very little water in the process. More so, coconuts are fruits (not nuts!) that produce more natural fructose per acre than sugar cane (50-75% more) while simultaneously using less than 20% of the soil nutrients and water. Furthermore, our aim is to also reduce the environmental impact of dairy production, by expanding our sustainable range to coconut-oil and coconut flesh based alternative to dairy butter coconut vegan spreads.
Health abundance for the consumer
According to WHO data, 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016 of which over 650 million were obese, 38 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2019 and over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016. Food allergies and intolerances are also on the rise, leading to an increased interest in health and wellness products. The growing assortment of SAGANÀ products offer a healthier alternative to many staples and pantry essentials in our diets. These include 100% undiluted coconut blossom nectar -a low-glycemic natural sweetener alternative, dairy-free coconut butter, nut-free coconut vegan spreads, as well as fiber- and nutrient-rich heirloom wholegrain rice varieties. Our goal is to promote healthier eating habits without compromising the nutritional value and authentic taste!
Taste abundance, ethical and sustainable gastronomy
SAGANÀ advocates ethical and sustainable gastronomy and would love to work with chefs and gastronomy professionals who value traditions, know-how and are open to creating easy recipes using innovative sustainable specialty ingredients while promoting healthier eating habits. We strive to advance our partner producers' efforts in improving and keeping their sustainable agri-practices, support them in knowledge sharing, gaining market access, obtaining international organic certifications and acquiring machinery to avoid food waste. Our flagship product SAGANÀ Coconut Blossom Nectar has been awarded Great Taste 2 stars label by the Guild of Fine Food – a so-called ‘Oscars’ of the food world.
The purpose is the key
So, what is truly the essence of a social enterprise? Different organizations may set different goals for themselves, but the true essence is a purpose! A forward-looking purpose far beyond making a profit alone and considering the long-term impact. It is what keeps one going, it is what gets you out of bed on a lazy morning, it is about making a real difference and creating a positive impact for others and ourselves. A social enterprise is also all about involving all the stakeholders in your cause. Our purpose is to help ensure sustainable food supply for future generations, to recognize the valuable efforts of impoverished farmers for generations and to offer healthier choices to our customers.
We believe that investing in sustainable agriculture especially now, guarantees 'green livelihoods' with decent and fair wages, offer opportunities to self-sufficiency and dignity back to people and their communities. No one can achieve this alone and we do need all of you - customers, partners and the community! Help us make a difference!