Class of 2021
Award-winning chef, entrepreneur, agriculture advocate and public speaker – Louise Mabulo has many strings to her bow, but her most important initiative is The Cacao Project, a social venture that helps farmers make a profit while working sustainably. It came about after a typhoon destroyed crops in her home of San Fernando, Camarines Sur, in 2016, leaving farmers with little or no income. Aged 18 at the time, Louise noticed the cacao plants were somehow still standing, and she happened on an idea to transform local farming by cultivating the resilient and high-value cacao plant along with other short-term crops like bok choy, okra and pumpkin. What started as a typhoon relief initiative quickly turned into something permanent, and in the last four years, the project has helped more than 200 farmers to plant 80,000 trees across 70 hectares of land. It equips producers with the best cacao crops as well as an education in how to make a living both responsibly and sustainably.
Louise is currently in the research and development phase to create a series of chocolate products that will help tell the story and, in turn, offer renewed hope to farmers. Through The Cacao Project, this smart young entrepreneur has helped revive water sources, combat deforestation and provide a sustainable livelihood for a community.
Louise is also the founder of The Culinary Lounge, a laidback farm-to-table kitchen studio that hosts events, workshops, cooking demonstrations and pop-up dinners, and has hosted an online cooking series for the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
“I want to deconstruct the negative stigmas surrounding agriculture in my country and change the narrative for local farmers so that we can make their trade into an art form that is agriculture and food sovereignty in the Philippines.” – Louise Mabulo
Images: UN Environment, Kyle Molina