An intern for GK Europe, Sara Meredith caught the social entrepreneurship bug at the GK Enchanted Farm, the first farm village university. She created Kaya Essentials, a handmade coconut skincare line that has a one-for-one with Kusina ng Kalinga. KNK provides school meals in elementary public schools, feeding over 20,000 children every day.

The GK Enchanted Farm is an incubator for social enterprises and it was Sara’s exposure to other social enterprises that inspired her to start her own. “I saw how Plush and Play embodied the Filipino bayanihan spirit and it encouraged me to look at how my passion for beauty could help others too.”

Sara’s passion is coconut oil, it’s not per chance that it is the base for all her coconut creations. “Growing up I always used coconut oil as a hair mask, and my mom and I made it from scratch in the Philippines. Something clicked for me when I discovered (right at the Enchanted Farm gift shop) Theo & Philo, the Philippines’ first bean-to-bar chocolate maker, and like cacao, coconut oil is one of our major exports, but why was there no Filipino coconut beauty brand? Suddenly, coconut oil had a whole new meaning for me and I wanted to do something about it.”

In GK fashion, Sara named her social enterprise “kaya essentials” as kaya means can-do and in the alleviation of poverty, she says "it only works if we kaya together.” Her social enterprise has conscious consumption written all over it, from sustainably sourcing their coconut oil from a fairtrade farm in Davao to supporting education by providing lunch meals. When Sara learned that 60% of coconut farmers lived under the poverty line, “seeing the disparity between this coconut obsession we have and our coconut farmers, the most important part to me was ethically sourcing my coconut oil.”

When talking about her identification as a Filipina, she says, “Home is where the heart is, and for me that’s in the Philippines.” She credits this strong connection to her mom. “My mom as a young girl worked in a factory under the table with her sisters to help my Lola, whose wages relied on how many bags she produced. At 18 my mom then moved to Hong Kong as an OFW to help support her family.” First learning about Gawad Kalinga, she recalls “I felt something in my heart because it was a nation-building movement that was proudly Filipino. When Tito Tony talked about having a colonial mentality, it enlightened so many childhood experiences I had where I received criticism for speaking Tagalog.”

Kaya Essentials’ signature scent is our calamansi fruit, and this is perfectly aligned with her advocacy in being a proud Filipina. Kusina ng Kalinga’s goal is to reach 50,000 children by the end of the year, and with such initiatives like Kaya Essentials, it shows the impact we can have when we care together.

You can find Sara’s fair trade, one-for-one coconut oil products online at www.kayaessentials.com and on Instagram @kayaessentials.

Kaya Essentials are available in the Philippines through https://thingsthatmatter.ph, an online store in the Philippines home to sustainable/social enterprises.