SAGANÀ: a Business with a Conscience
“We redefine the art of sweetening of baking and of cooking“
In five weeks the winners of the Social Impact Award (SIA) 2017 Geneva edition will be announced. The SIA supports young entrepreneurs in their journey towards creating solutions for challenging social issues. Cattleya- Romero-Faude won the 2014 Zurich edition and her social project SAGANÀ is now a Geneva-based start-up. SAGANÀ offers health, ethical and high quality conscious consumers the highest quality authentic, certified organic, fair and undiluted 100 % coconut blossom which serves as a healthier natural sweetener alternative. Her products are now sold nationwide in Manor and preferred speciality stores in Zurich and Geneva.
“I told myself: one day, when I am ready, I want to promote our specialty ingredients and create our very purpose-driven premium healthy lifestyle Swiss brand. “
“As a Filipina living abroad for the last 15 years, I have always appreciated that we are an agricultural country blessed with abundant, healthy and sustainable natural resources. I feel that the country’s core strength lies in agriculture as it supports the majority of the rural community livelihoods.
Curious and astonished that I could barely find sustainable and ethically sourced Philippine agricultural products or recognized Filipino brands anywhere in the world, I told myself: one day, when I am ready, I want to promote our specialty ingredients and create our very purpose-driven premium healthy lifestyle Swiss brand. “
And she did. Together with Sheila, her Manila-based sister, Cattleya now directly imports coconut blossom nectar from the Southern part of the Philippines into Switzerland. While her sister is responsible for product souring building relations with like-minded local partners to exportation, Cattleya is in charge of the importation, marketing and business development.
Winning the Social Impact Award
In 2014 Cattleya won the Social Impact Award Zurich edition, run by Social Impact Lab-Berlin and SAP Schweiz in collaboration with the Impact Hub Zurich. “As a winner, I received eight months of support. This included access to co-working spaces, expert mentoring, business networks and trainings. It helped me to focus while being surrounded by a like-minded community of social innovators. I met very supportive agri-serial entrepreneurs who willingly shared their knowledge about the Swiss food organic and fair trade network; fellow entrepreneurs who generously shared their talents and skills to co-create the SAGANÀ label and website; and dedicated different mentors who guided me from day one on how to start small, lean and practical.“
Social, environmental and health aspects
SAGANÀ won the award for a reason. By directly working with producers, SAGANÀ creates ‘green jobs’ with premium fair wages of 30-50% higher compared to the average wages following an incentive-based approach. The more undiluted nectar their partner rural farmers can tap, the higher their living wages and directly support the community-based initiatives of these resilient farmers. However, the social aspect is not the sole reason to support their social initiative. Gourmet and coffee lovers, quality, health and ethically conscious consumers with food intolerances have a delicious, artisanal and authentic caramel-tasting alternative to highly processed alternatives in the market! “The traditional global sweeteners industry uses a high and chemical-intensive process, supports mono-cropping and a history of rampant exploitation of farmers. We advocate sustainable organic farming, biodiversity and social justice. Our partner rural farmers have more to gain, able to protect their own lands and diversify their livelihoods. Climate change has taken a heavy toll on the Philippines and so to adapt, we focused on sustainable, drought-resistant, high value crops with high nutritional value.”
“My biggest fear of starting my own business was maybe that I was scared of the uncertainty and that being too ambitious would be our downfall. I neither speak Swiss German nor had existing social or business networks to tap then. But if we let limitations and the daily grind distract and discourage us, SAGANÀ would have never moved an inch!
To all social entrepreneurs I therefore want to say: dare to be very ambitious, have patience and be persistent! If you are still hesitant about your journey: plan ahead and discern the purpose before diving in — is it for your survival or a hobby? Ours is for survival. Expect hardships so surround you and collaborate with like-minded, as passionate, authentic and proactive people. It will motivate you to do your best and work hard in making things happen.”
Achievements and future goals
SAGANÀ is the first-ever, Filipino-owned, purpose-driven, premium, healthy lifestyle Swiss brand built from scratch. We paved the way for Philippine specialty ingredients to enter into the Swiss mainstream market. To create and realize impact, we need to sell first and foremost — and we have sold our first ton (1000 kgs!) which employed 12 farmers.
In December 2016, Manor AG and Claro Fair Trade were convinced of our flagship products’ excellent quality. As part of a pilot we reached 150 stores nationwide including our preferred partner stores who believed and supported our initiative: Change maker, BachserMärt, Social Trade, Eva’s Apples, Nature en Vrac, Simply Soup, House of Shops, ALIVE and Faircustomer.com.
Recently, we also have begun collaborating closely with the Philippine Commercial Attachés to the World Trade Organization (WTO). We exchange knowledge, gain access to high-level networking opportunities and receive international business support services. In fact, Sidley Austin Geneva took us under their wing recently, thanks to their nomination! We also have more products in the pipeline, ready for the Swiss and expansion into European market very soon.
The premium quality of our products speak for themselves. Enjoy discovering SAGANÀ, our social project and its authentic caramel flavor that melts in the mouth!
Find out more about our company and our products by visiting our website https://www.sagana.org/
Interested in having a glimpse of working with us this September or October ? Become a SAGANÀ Ambassador for half-day tastings in exchange of our products.
Want to know more about the Social Impact Award 2017 edition? Check out the website at https://socialimpactaward.net or pass by the Impact Hub Geneva at September 28th to discover the winners.