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Trash to Treasure: Social entrepreneur turns old tires into durable footwear & empowers persons with disabilities

Trash to Treasure: Social entrepreneur turns old tires into durable footwear & empowers persons with disabilities

SME Inspirations

GlobalLinker Staff

GlobalLinker Staff

23 Oct 2018, 09:58 — 7 min read

Enterprise: Green Rubber (GRUB) Footwear 


Founder: Paul Andrei Medina


Year it was founded: 2017


Industry: Fashion & Fashion Accessories


Location:  PWD Workshop, New Corella, Davao del Norte 

 

Saving the environment while doing business isn’t impossible. This is what Paul Andrei Medina has proven with his business journey. While commuting to work, Paul would see old tires from a Junkshop. These old tires when discarded, only end up in landfills which can take hundreds of years before it disintegrates. His encounter with old tires gave him a business idea: to turn the old tires into a new product. This led to the birth of Green Rubber Footwear, a social enterprise that upcycles old tires into a durable footwear.  


Paul also empowers the Person with Disabilities (PWD) community by working with them to create the footwear. “Some people have biases towards the PWDs. There is a social stigma that PWD has limited capacity to contribute; thus, limiting their involvement or restricting them from having jobs. GRUB aims to change that perception,” he shares.


Paul's initiative has gained recognition from different government agencies and has won a project grant from Jesse M. Robredo Foundation.


In conversation with GlobalLinker (GL), Paul Andrei Medina (Paul) shares his business journey.

 

GL: Tell us about your business and how it came into being?


Paul:
 
Green Rubber (Grub) Footwear is a social enterprise that gives back to the environment. Our products are made by Persons with Disabilities (PWD) artisans that upcycle old tires into durable and stylishly rugged footwear.


As more and more consumers are now becoming responsible and environmentally aware, I want to present to them our eco-friendly footwear as an awesome alternative to a regular footwear.


Old tires that are left and not properly recycled can store water and can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes in the community. In the course of my community work, the old tires gave me an idea to turn them into a new product. 

 

When I approached the PWD community during our community business planning session, I remembered the tires and it gave me an idea to combine tires and their skills to create GRUB slippers. It took us a month to develop, design the slippers, and test it for wear and tear. At present, we have already developed three designs for men, women, and even children. What’s good about our slippers is that they are recyclable, comfortable to wear, and all sales proceed go to PWD artisans.

 

GL: What are the challenges you have faced in establishing your business?


Paul: 
I’ve realized that a social enterprise, no matter how good an idea, can fail if the leader/founder can’t sell the idea to its workers. The secret of becoming a social entrepreneur starts with how good a leader in selling the idea to execute its implementation. The workers are the backbone of the social enterprise. For me, it’s the challenging part of establishing a business; boosting the morale of a disempowered sector of the community is challenging but it can possibly be done.


When I started this, my fellow PWDs have initial doubts, but as we progressed into the creative concept, research and development, and improvement of quality and aesthetic, the ball started rolling and we have boosted the morale of our PWD organization and are now actively selling our product.

 

GL: What is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your business?


Paul: 
Our USP are the following:

  • It is durable and last longer compared to an ordinary footwear.
  • It’s an eco-friendly footwear with a purpose that tells a story about people and the environment.
  • Our footwear is made of 100% upcycled tires which means that we’re not stitching it and we’re not using adhesive paste and nails.
  • Our footwear has its own circular economy; we encourage our clients not to throw GRUB footwear once it’s apart, but instead to return it to us so we can repair or we can give it to a less fortunate individual who can’t afford to have a proper footwear.
  • We have a buy 1 take 1 policy; for each pair sold, we also give one to poor children in the community.


GL: What are some of the milestones/achievements of your business?


Paul:
 Our social enterprise has gained awards and recommendations from NGOs and government agencies. Even our President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo commended our advocacy and told me to keep doing the good work and keep empowering the marginalized sector.


GL: What role do you feel GlobalLinker plays in connecting and assisting SMEs?


Paul:
 
GlobalLinker plays a vital role in enabling MSMEs in the Philippines to connect, collaborate, and create business opportunities to maximize the potentials of MSMEs.

 

GL: What is your big business dream?


Paul:
 
My big business dream is not about profit nor fame; it’s about discovering my purpose in life by giving an avenue to my fellow PWD community to create an impact despite their disabilities. My dream is to create a workshop of GRUB footwear in major cities in the Philippines where tires are rampant and cause health and environmental hazard. This initiative can help in creating sustainable livelihood for my community.


GL: What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Paul: Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy; you should not be afraid to fail. It’s not failing that an entrepreneur has to worry about, but it is the willingness to get up on your feet and try again.  Failure is not a failure, it is a stepping stone towards success.

 

Network with Paul Andrei Medina by clicking on the 'Invite' on his profile. 

 

Disclaimer: This article is based solely on the inputs shared by the featured member. GlobalLinker does not necessarily endorse the views, opinions & facts stated by the member. 

Posted by

GlobalLinker Staff

We are a team of experienced industry professionals committed to sharing our knowledge and skills with small & medium enterprises.

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