"We Think Of Ourselves As An Impact Company"—Generation Hope's Nanette Medved-Po On Being A Positive Force Of Change
"I’m so grateful for my showbiz career because it gave me a platform to really put power behind the things I care about," she says
Many people know Nanette Medved-Po as one of the actresses who gave life to iconic Pinoy superhero, Darna, back in the 90s. Today, she has transformed into a powerful and influential woman who has helped thousands of students all over the Philippines.
“When you really think about it, I wasn’t the biggest star at that time,” Nanette says. “I just had an idea and a little bit of a platform and I went out and said, ‘I have a super crazy idea: why don’t we make it super easy to care about nation-building and especially education with water?’” And seven years later, Generation Hope has turned into a completely different platform that has so far built 91 classrooms for more than 16,000 students all over the country.
We’re most familiar with Hope as the brand of bottled water where a part from its sales go to building classrooms across the Philippines. It might be a bit more expensive than your usual bottled water, but for Nanette, she felt that it was a way for Filipinos to “vote with their peso” about the things they value the most.
“You start off your life not knowing how your passion and skills really come together, and I feel like I’m so grateful for my showbiz career because it gave me a platform to really put power behind the things I care about,” she shares. And because of Hope, she has also empowered millions of Filipinos to change the lives of children in their own, small ways.
While Generation Hope is doing well, building classrooms and touching people's lives, thanks to individuals buying the water and companies partnering up for their CSR projects, Nanette admits that they’ve come to a bit of a challenge since their water bottles are essentially single-use plastics.
“At that time, there wasn’t much concern about single-use plastics,” says Nanette. “So if we wanna stay in the water bottle business, we need to make sure we’re not helping solve one problem in education by creating another problem in the environment.”
And so they went plastic neutral on January 2018. Plastic neutral meant they are striving to make net zero plastic footprint by offsetting the amount of plastic that they produce by recycling or buying plastic credits. They work with GreenAntz to build their classrooms through eco-bricks made from post-consumer plastic, as well as with Republic Cement to help prevent plastic from winding up in the oceans. This means they recover post-consumer plastics and process them into building materials or energy so they don't end up as waste.
“We don’t see ourselves as a water company; we think of ourselves as an impact company,” underlines Nanette. “We try to adapt to what we feel would make the most impact.”
Recently, Hope just turned over eight new classrooms to students afflicted by the Marawi conflict. While they have builds in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, most of their work is concentrated in the southern part of the country where help is needed the most.
Nanette was present when Hope turned over the classrooms in Marawi, but she admits that she doesn’t go to turnovers as often. “People try to thank me for giving them a classroom, which I find very uncomfortable because the truth is, when we turn over a classroom, I didn’t give them those classrooms. I was super clear and said, ‘Look, this classroom was given to you by a million and a half people who made a decision with their peso about what was important to them, and you may be walking down the street and meet somebody who actually contributed… so be nice to people and invest in doing well in school.”
Nanette loves every bit of her work in Generation Hope. “I love what I do so if I could be doing Hope 24/7, I would totally be doing that,” she says.
Since Hope is a small company, it has both the pros and cons that come with managing such an enterprise. Everything is fast-paced since there’s minimum processes involved—that means they get done things quickly, and that Nanette is required to work at an incredibly fast speed, as well.
“I tend to work on a very unreasonable speed. I do like 50 different things at the same time. I have a super structured day,” she says.
This on-the-go, multifaceted lifestyle has influenced her sense of style. When asked what she thinks is a woman of style, she answers, “I think about it in terms of your own kind of personal values and how you present yourself. At this point in my life, I think my style is more I wanna do the things that are important to me, I wanna be comfortable while I’m doing it, and I’m less worried about what other people think.”
Indeed, she has proven that you can create a business with a heart, and embody beauty with depth. And that you don’t necessarily need a cape, a crown, or a magical stone to be a positive force of change.
Watch the full Women of Style episode with Joey Mead-King and Nanette Medved-Po below:
Photos from @generationhopeph @nanettemedvedpo