The words seemed to pop out of my computer screen as I read the moving mantra of Dylan, Anna and Camille – a husband, wife and sister trio who are fighting poverty in the Philippines through their social enterprise Human Nature.
“Our country is blessed with the best and most passionate Filipino innovators and enterprises, and we stand before a future absolutely brimming with hope for our nation. Together with you, our fellow advocates, we are fueled by passion and purpose to create a global Philippines that uplifts our poor, helps fellow social enterprises scale up, and fosters inclusive growth by doing business while leaving no one behind.”
I was first intrigued when reading about Human Nature’s body and home natural products on their website. But have since then fallen in love with the company – their story, their vision and their future. Dylan, Anna and Camille’s personal journey with the company is one filled with hard work, faith, lessons learned, and the impact that others can have on our lives.
A Love Story
Dylan Wilk was a poor English boy who abandoned his education during high school. Despite the negativity surrounding his future, he started a video game business from his kitchen at the age of 20. By the age of 25, he had ranked #9 as one of the richest men in the UK under 30.
Dylan, feeling a large void in his life, began praying and searching for more. He embarked on a journey that eventually led him to Gawad Kalinga – a national movement working to combat poverty in the Philippines. He fell in love with Gawad Kalinga….and also with the founder of Gawad Kalinga’s daughter – the Filipina Anna Meloto. Like many love stories, Anna impacted Dylan, and the faith and compassion of Anna’s family led them on a new path together.
While in the USA working to unite a network of volunteers for Gawad Kalinga, Dylan and Anna witnessed the emerging trend of natural products and compassionate companies competing in the mainstream. They saw huge potential for a new market in the Philippines that could pair well with a social mission. And thus, the vision for Human Nature was born. Anne’s sister Camille, a cosmetic lover, soon joined the mission as one of the three co-founders.
Human Nature is Born
The trio set out with a simple saying: pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-environment. The realities to carry-out such a lofty statement are always much harder to achieve than simply putting them on paper. But through faith and hard work, they not only succeeded in launching the first product in 2008, Human Nature now has extraordinary reach in the Philippines and abroad as they strive to end poverty and reinvigorate the Filipino spirit worldwide.
Human Nature simply does things right. They create high-quality, natural products using Filipino ingredients that are harvested from their farms and community projects around the country. They sell their products at an affordable rate, yet take care of their employees and partners with an incredibly high standard.
I am honored to share further insights on the brand with you today from Dylan, Anna and Camille. Let’s here from the founders:
Thinking back to the beginning before Human Nature was born, how did you make the brave decision to start your own social enterprise in the Philippines?
ANNA: My father inspired me to work not only for my own personal dreams but to use my education and talents to help our country. Later on in my adulthood, Spiderman affirmed the values that my parents taught me when he said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Having been born into a position with access to a good education and a stable family, I have a certain power and a privilege that I am thankful for every day, and I have a responsibility to use those gifts not only for my own personal benefit but for the good of others as well.
When I started, it was really the desire to do something useful with my education and experience while having the time and energy to raise my kids. It was also my kids because I wanted to have products that I felt were better for them and the environment. Our vision is to be the gold standard of a globally-successful business with a heart that will embolden other businesses to better serve society.
DYLAN: For me personally, it was because I created my own business in the past, which was very successful financially but not very fulfilling. And, so I came to see that personal success is meaningless unless you can also bring other people along with you.
For me personally also, my family was not rich. My grandparents were refugees from World War II. They were factory workers their whole lives, and I saw really how difficult their lives were. And so as an employer I wanted to be able to provide better opportunities for Filipinos, especially the poor. For me, charity will not solve poverty. It will not stop the poor from being poor. You have to give them dignified employment with a just wage. In fact, the Church teaches that the dignity of the employee is the responsibility of the employer. It is our responsibility to make sure that our employees have everything they need. Because what the law says, paying the minimum wage, is not enough. It doesn’t exonerate the employer in the eyes of God. You still have to do what’s right and just.
The other thing that motivated me was that I believe in the Filipino. I have a very strong faith in the Filipino. There’s so much talent here and so much goodness in the people. I personally find Filipinos very loyal, very honest, very hardworking, very dedicated and very joyful. Wherever Filipinos go around the world, they thrive and flourish and blossom. It’s a tragedy that the two highest aspirations of Filipinos, the best Filipino graduates, are usually to leave the country or work for a multi-national company. But in both cases, they spend their lives making another country rich. And so I really wanted to show that it is possible to have a successful business in the Philippines and to make opportunities for everyone from the best to the least educated in the country.
What are some of the current challenges that social entrepreneurs still face in the Philippines and what is your advice for them?
DYLAN: There are far too many to possibly list here because there are literally thousands of them. Every day is, for me personally, filled with problems – filled with fire-fighting, filled with challenges. Anyone who wants to go in business should know that it’s going to be an incredibly hard uphill battle, especially trying to do it the way that we do it. But I honestly believe that there is an answer, and the answer is just very simple—anyone who’s starting a business if they follow this will succeed—don’t quit! So many people quit when they are right at the cusp of solving their issues and creating something. Even though there are struggles and problems, the bottom line is don’t quit.
I love your motto of “pro-Philippines, pro-poor, pro-environment” and that you are acting upon this mission. How many farms do you currently work with and support? What is your philosophy for hiring your staff?
DYLAN: We actually work with about 18 different communities now. Some of them are farming communities, others are social enterprises. We don’t necessarily choose the best community. We just look for the ones that are willing and keen to try. From there, we help to provide training and the equipment – and we buy the produce. We are guided a lot by Gawad Kalinga with which communities to work with.
ANNA: We’ve given jobs to people who otherwise would not have gotten regular, secure jobs from other companies. We pay 45% more than the minimum wage in Metro Manila even though we are not required by law to do this. Many of our people have been able to buy motorcycles, send their kids to school and secure their homes. We continuously provide training and life skills development to our people so that their quality of life improves even beyond their stay at Human Nature.
What is your vision for the Human Nature’s future? What projects are you currently working on?
ANNA: Our dream is to become a global Filipino brand. Currently, we are already in the US, Singapore, Malaysia and UAE, but most of our market is still local.
CAMILLE: It would be great to see our company reaching more people in the next few years. I would love for our brand to be a household name in our mother land for Filipinos to constantly be reminded that we are capable of doing something great. I would also love to see our brand establish more farming communities and source from more local farmers. I would love for our research and development team to have more scientific breakthroughs and innovations, such as discovering new uses and benefits from our local plants. I would like for us to be able to contribute in lessening the gap between the rich and the poor in our country. I am one with the goal as well of Gawad Kalinga to alleviate poverty in the Philippines by 2024.
Thank you Human Nature for sharing your insights with The Global Commute! If you too are inspired by Dylan, Anna and Camille’s work and are passionate about helping the Philippines – you can learn more about Human Nature at humanheartnature.com. Their products are available for purchase online – Click here to view their online catalog. You can also sign up to be a dealer for Human Nature very easily right on their website.
I will leave you with two videos – I couldn’t leave one out! The first is a fantastic Ted Talk by Dylan Wilk. The second is a showcase of several social entrepreneurs that Human Nature is assisting to scale: