Mayani is the Breakthrough Maverick of the 2023 Where Next Club

The Most Awarded Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Glenfiddich, has yet again proven that to disrupt the status quo is to be relentless in pursuing the seemingly impossible.

In October 2023, Glenfiddich once again opened the doors of the WHERE NEXT CLUB to startup entrepreneurs in the Philippines, in search of one remarkable venture that’s ready to scale up and break new grounds. Towards the end of the year, five Filipino change-makers were handpicked to go head-to-head against one another in a presentation and spotlight where they want to take their advocacies in the realm of application and automation technology.

The time has finally come to realize who, among these five maverick startups in the WHERE NEXT CLUB, rose to the mountain top and embraced the uncertainties of the wild—also known as the local trade and commerce.

In a culminating event at the Balmori Tent in Rockwell, Makati, Glenfiddich declared the Philippine-based agri-tech startup Mayani as the 2023 Breakthrough Maverick, competing against AlliedHealth Academics, DOON, GoGym, and Parlon. According to the esteemed panelists, Mayani managed to capture their hearts after its founders laid out a comprehensive pitch presentation about the national issue of food security and the ways technology could help ease it.

The Where Next Club event grounds at the Balmori Tent in Rockwell, Makati adorned with Glenfiddich's iconic deer emblem and whisky bottles
The Glenfiddich Where Next Club event grounds at the Balmori Tent in Rockwell, Makati

“Based on data, the most overlooked sector is our farmers and fisher folks,” Mayani CEO JT Solis previously said in an interview with Lifestyle Asia. “[There is also] a disorganization or disjoint between them and the market, wherein there’s a lot of demand, but at the same time there’s no proper course or proper process from farm to table.” Solis and his co-founders then figured that it is high time a tech-driven world shed a light on the plight of smallholder farmers and smallholder fisherfolks in the country, that is, through the e-commerce platform Mayani.

On January 11, 2024, Mayani was awarded with a million-peso non-equity dilutive grant, along with organized mentorship and guidance from Endeavor Philippines Managing Director Manny Ayala, fashion retail firm Terry S.A. President Anne Gonzales, and venture capital company 500 Global Partner Martin Cu. Accepting the award before the Philippine startup and business community, as well as previous members of the WHERE NEXT CLUB, were Founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Barreiro, Co-Founder and COO Josef Amarra, and Chief Farmer Ochie San Juan. “The win tonight is a big boost,” Mayani Executive Chairman Barreiro told Lifestyle Asia. “More than anything, it’s a gift to our main stakeholders, which are the smallholder farmers and fisherfolks.”

Mayani co-founders CEO JT Solis (left) and COO Josef Amarra (right) with event host Issa Litton
Mayani Founder and Executive Chairman Jeff Barreiro (left) and Co-Founder and COO Josef Amarra (right) with event host Issa Litton

He further added, “When we were just starting, there were people questioning us, ‘Philippine agriculture is complicated. Why are you trying to do what you’re doing?’ But we went ahead and did it.” Truly, their maverick spirit did not falter and the dedication to the agriculture sector did not wane, leading them to where they are today.

“Anytime we get recognized or anytime we get blessed with an award like [the Glenfiddich’s 2023 Breakthrough Maverick], definitely is a validation of the hard work that we and our stakeholders all have put into the local agricultural sector through Mayani,” Amarra also shared. To which San Juan agreed, saying that now more than ever, they are “motivated to onboard more and more farmers and fisherfolks, and organize a samahan or community from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao that have better access to markets, inputs, and credits.”

In 2024, with Mayani on board, fresh fields and new pastures await the Filipino agriculture sector. As for those of us who dared to leave our comfort zones to break new grounds, we are left with the same question from when we began, “WHERE NEXT?”.

The Glenfiddich 12, 15, and 18 displayed on wooden bottle stands with Glenfiddich's glyph and trade name
The world’s most awarded single malt Scotch whisky featuring the Glenfiddich core range of 12-, 15-, and 18-Year-Olds

Let the Glenfiddich legacy live on, as we eagerly wait for the next leg of the WHERE NEXT CLUB. Stay tuned for exciting announcements, and follow Glenfiddich on Instagram. You may also inquire via email at [email protected].

Photography KIM ANGELA SANTOS of KLIQ, Inc.

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