26-Year-Old Filipino Entrepreneur Turns Waste Coconut Shells Into A Thriving Business

With zero funding, Filipino entrepreneur MJ Loleng built her start-up company, Ecobriqs Charcoal Briquettes, an innovative eco-friendly charcoal business from waste coconut shells.

She was able to attract investors with her idea who also had a passion for sustainability and providing employment to those who are poor in the Philippines, as she said that she experienced being poor herself. MJ wants to show that poverty is no reason to give up on ambitions.

MJ wrote on her Facebook, “For the past 4yrs I was just crystal focus on surviving and making things happen. I know I’ve always wanted to help, and I know that I can do it by building a business.”

When “Samgyeopsal” or Korean BBQ restaurants became popular in the Philippines, Ecobriqs experienced a surge in popularity. Briquettes were the ideal kind of coal to use since they did not produce smoke or odor and could be used more than once.

The pandemic drove several eateries to close, putting Ecobriq into a major setback for half a year, but MJ thought of another idea. She collaborated with her friends and opened their own Korean BBQ restaurant, Umma’s Samgyup Café, with a starting capital of P5,000 ($90).

As a result of MJ’s expanding business portfolio, she is now able to bring in more than P100,000 ($2000) per month, and learned stock trading in order to increase her income.

Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be persistent in achieving their goals, “I also didn’t know how we got this far. I just keep the faith, believe in my team, took the risk, give it ALL IN, and did my best”