Mark Sultan Gersava
Mark Sultan Gersava grew up in poverty, one of 12 children of a slash-and-burn subsistence farmer in the southern Philippine province of Sultan Kudarat. Today he is the “chief executive farmer” of a company aimed at tackling that same poverty, and combating climate change at the same time.
His firm Bambuhay helps farmers shift from slash-and-burn agriculture, which accounts for about a third of deforestation in the Philippines, to growing bamboo, now in demand as an alternative material to throw-away plastic. The company makes popular bamboo straws, toothbrushes, tumblers and bamboo-based charcoal briquettes, to replace those made of wood. So far they have sold nearly 400,000 reusable bamboo straws. Bambuhay has partnered with the Philippine government and farmers to replant 540 hectares of deforested land through the company’s Bamboo AgroForestry Program.
He says his work is far from done. By 2030, he aims for his company to have helped establish one billion bamboo plants and to have lifted 100,000 farmers out of poverty, especially in extremely poor areas such as his hometown and the province of Sulu.
Find out what drove him to launch his company. And how he intends to achieve these much-needed but challenging goals.