Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Will Lauder, who created Kapuluan Coconut to help restore the Philippines’ primary resource after typhoon Hagupit destroyed 33 million of the country’s coconut palm trees. Here’s how he’s making a difference on the ground and why he thinks this type of grassroots charity is most effective in achieving results…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
Empowering coconut farming communities by working together to produce the world’s finest coconut oil, made by hand in small batches.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
I was preparing for a surf trip to Siargao Island in the Philippines when Typhoon Haiyan hit the region and took over international headlines. It was one of the worst natural disasters the world has ever seen, so I left my surfboard at home and went to help. I delivered clean water to rural communities cut off from relief; the devastation was brutal, to say the least.
On top of the death and destruction, the region’s primary resource was devastated. I had no idea what “Tree of Life” really meant until I was surrounded by 33 million destroyed coconut palm trees. I couldn’t imagine how a lot of the communities I had spent time with would ever recover.
I founded Kapuluan Coconut and have dedicated the last 20 months to learning about the coconut industry in the Philippines, where 60 per cent of farmers live in extreme poverty. When farmers lose their crops amid severe exploitation, there is no way out. Families and communities go hungry.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Producing our documentary short film, Kinabuhi. It will always be special because of the connection I made with the farmers and their community.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Kapuluan Coconut is now working to raise the bar for how coconut farmers are treated. My short term goal is the Indiegogo campaign we launched this month to build a production facility that’ll help coconut farming communities. Once the facility is completed, it’ll help local coconut farmers through long-term job opportunities with fair wages and working conditions.
The next 10-20 years? Maybe I’ll be living on an island or a sailboat. Regardless of where I end up, I’ll likely be continuing my work in the Philippines, supporting the people who mean so much to me.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The world will become better or worse depending on whether we become better or worse.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
While I think the work a lot of charities do is admirable, I’m cautious of the ones I choose to support. In my experience, the most impactful organizations aren’t non-profits but ones that create positive change through grassroots education and empowerment.
With that being said, I support Waves for Water. When I do disaster relief in the Philippines, I raise money for water filters through them and then hit the ground on my own or with friends by distributing clean water solutions directly to the rural communities that are most in need.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Depression. A personal issue that transcends personal life. Travelling and surfing really helped ignite challenges and passion in my life and have also led me to the Philippines and the work I’m doing there. I believe that true happiness is associated with how much you do the things you really want to do, and how helpful you are to people and the world.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Commendable and deserving honour.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Chambar. It’s the best.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Medium / Amarillo by morning – George Strait
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I am biased toward the Philippines. There is one thing I can guarantee you about the country aside from its beauty – you will love the people. Next up, Sri Lanka.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
See Question 2, part 2.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I am always losing things, so I wish I didn’t spend money on those things. Instead, I should have spent that money on whisky hazelnut ice cream and cinnamon buns.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
To have unlimited time for the things and people I love.