Got Heart Shop: An Enterprise with a Heart
by Marlet Salazar
Got Heart Shop has set its heart on helping micro-enterprises and the indigenous peoples. A social enterprise that curates local food and non-food products from their partners, the shop does not only provide a venue for farmers to sell their products but also assists them in developing what it calls “businesses that are sustainable, holistic, independent, and dignified.”
Supporting a broad range of advocacies from using organic products to locally made produce, Got Heart Shop is also actively promoting Zero Waste.
Melissa Yeung-Yap founded the Got Heart Foundation in 2007, years after a visit to an orphanage where she realized there is a role she needed to play—to create a better world by empowering the marginalized sector and assisting them to live a life they can be proud of.
Working with different communities, the Foundation saw the struggles of micro-enterprises and understood that what prevented them from moving their businesses to the next level was sales and marketing. The communities had to resort to middlemen that undersold their products, thus losing the opportunity to increase their revenue.
Because of this, they decided to pool the resources of the Foundation together to put up their very own Got Heart Shop where they can sell their community’s quality products at a fair price that actually benefits the community.
In 2012, Melissa started Got Heart Shop with stores in White Plains (inside Earth Kitchen) and Esteban Abada, Loyola Heights, both along Katipunan, in Quezon City, Philippines. The shop also carries the Eat Your Straw’s Edible Straw and Earthlings brands that manufacture products like silicone menstrual cups, coffee cups, and dish sponges.
According to Melissa, Got Heart is one of the first stores that embraced Zero Waste in the country. Being a pioneer, one of their key challenges was figuring out how this type of social enterprise will be accepted and eventually flourish. Endless trial and errors while learning by doing helped them to keep it up and running. “We just kept innovating and iterating accordingly,” she said.
She added: “Buying these Zero Waste products will promote the triple Ps bottom line that Got Heart has been holding on for almost 12 years: the People, the Planet, and the Profit.”
Like many social enterprises, Got Heart walks the talk. They eliminated any and all forms of packaging; hence, they do not produce so much residual waste.
Located in a neighborhood of mixed social classes, Got Heart caters to residents within the area as well as students from different campuses and workers from nearby offices.
However, as the pandemic accelerated digital transformation across all industries, the shop ramped up its online store and now engages its customers from different places through their social media platforms.
“[Our] customers [have] been very supportive,” Melissa said. “We have a lot of regular customers who are already aware of the Zero Waste drill such as bringing sanitized containers for refilling.”
Philippine businesses were heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Got Heart was also hit, the pandemic did not deter them from pursuing their advocacy. To help people practice their Zero Waste habit, they now offer delivery through couriers and/or delivery apps. They likewise expanded their operations by using an online platform. They use sterilized reusable containers to ship the products, especially the soaps, which are the best-seller.
“There are a lot of things you can’t control during a pandemic but just keep on working on the things you can control,” Melissa said.
According to Melissa, consistency and follow-throughs are what make “habits” like Zero Waste successful. For her, one has to be true to their objective, first and foremost, because it would help any social enterprise—or any business for that matter—to find its footing and become successful, however people define success.
“We always do whatever we can to lessen any environmental impact of the products we sell,” she said.
Photos courtesy Got Heart Shop.
This article is part of the book, BUSINESS UNUSUAL: Enterprises paving the way to Zero Waste, a collection of feature articles on select enterprises in Asia Pacific that practice and promote Zero Waste principles. Published by Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, the publication may be downloaded for free at www.no-burn.org/Business-Unusual.