By Joanne Rae Ramirez
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – A foundation created by the president of eBay has cited the Philippines’ Gawad Kalinga (GK) for its sustained efforts to end poverty, funneling $1.15 million (P50.6 million) into the organization.
The Skoll Foundation, established by eBay founder and president Jeff Skoll in 1999 to help the world’s “change agents,” has cited GK for its social entrepreneurship, one of only four organizations in the world to receive the award this year.
Said Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation: “Gawad Kalinga brings new perspective to our growing portfolio of social entrepreneurs tackling poverty. With their deliberate focus on values formation and partnerships, Tony Meloto, Luis Oquiñena and their team have transformed large swathes of the Philippines. And they’ve successfully replicated the model in urban and rural environments, at half the cost of alternative interventions.”
Meloto, chairman and founder of GK whose chief goal is “building communities to end poverty,” said, “The Skoll Award is an affirmation of hope-builders and poverty-busters.”
“The challenge before us is to scale to reach more communities in desperate need. We see a great opportunity, now, to bring our model to many parts of the world where the debilitating effects of poverty hamper the progress of nations and burden their people,” he added.
GK’s goal is to build five million communities by 2024, from its present 2,000 communities. Meloto says the Skoll Award and grant will help the GK reach its one-million target communities in the next three years.
The first full-time employee and first president of eBay, Skoll has been named Business Week’s “50 Most Generous Philanthropists” (2003-2007) and Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” (2006). He created The Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity by investing in social entrepreneurs.
Over the past 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $250 million, including investments in 91 social entrepreneurs and 74 organizations on five continents “who are creating a brighter future for underserved communities.”
GK executive director Jose Luis Oquiñena, who will receive the Skoll Award with Meloto in England in March 2012, said, “It is an inspiration and will mean a lot to the people serving the community. This is a recognition of the volunteers who live extraordinary lives without being recognized. They share the effort and the recognition, it is so collective. It’s not about the award but the acknowledgment. GK is about encouraging everybody that they can do good.”
His twin brother Jose Mari, who used to handle GK’s operations before he became undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, believes the Skoll Award affirms that Filipinos “are capable of caring for one another.”
“Second, Skoll is a global institution. Through this [award], we are put there in a global stage. We must take pride in this because GK is a foundation built by Filipinos although it is not exclusively for Filipinos. The thing that makes it grow is mainly because we refuse to leave our country. We can have many problems as a nation, as a people, as a country, as individuals, but there’s something that we cannot do and that’s to give up on each other, to give up on our country.”
Meloto, who founded GK in 1995 because he wanted to be a “practicing Christian, not a preaching Christian,” stresses, “For me, this recognition means more responsibility because of the trust given to the organization. With this recognition, I believe there is an even bigger challenge to the leadership to bring us to where we intend to go, which is to impact on five million poor families by 2024.”