A social enterprise that makes and sells plantable bamboo toothbrushes won the Shell LiveWIRE Final Pitch competition held at Fairmont Makati on Oct. 10. 

Bambuhay, which bested 108 tech startups and 38 community enterprises, will receive P500,000 and be integrated into the Shell value chain.  

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. established Shell LiveWIRE, its flagship enterprise development program, in 2020 to aid tech startups that provide sustainable solutions.  

“We have supported 670 existing businesses and helped create 125 new businesses since then,” said Ma. Divina G. De Leon, Shell regional social performance manager, in her opening remarks. “We are proud to witness such Filipino talent, especially with the start-up community contributing greatly to the country’s economy.” 

Bambuhay presented a simple objective: to help avert climate change by making sustainable products made of bamboo, such as straws and charcoal air purifiers.   

The product it pitched at Shell LiveWIRE was a bamboo toothbrush that contains seeds, making it plantable and possible to grow into native and fruit trees after use. 

“We are a green-tech social enterprise with a vision to build regenerative communities and innovate products that cause no harm, creating an ideal model for circular economy towards a sustainable future for people and the planet,” said Mark Sultan Gersava, founder and chief executive farmer of Bambuhay, during his pitch. 

Bambuhay, which partners with indigenous communities to make their bamboo products, aims to help 500,000 indigenous people by 2030. 

The enterprise supports regenerative reforestation, which Mr. Gersava said involves every hectare of land to be planted with 400 native trees and 200 bamboos, to increase the income and livelihood opportunities of partner communities.   

Each toothbrush is engraved with one of eight endangered species, helping owners identify their brush by animal while promoting awareness of dwindling biodiversity. 

“It’s like showing consumers that by using our sustainable and eco-friendly toothbrushes, we are saving these animals,” Arianne L. Lacuna, partnership officer at Bambuhay, told BusinessWorld. 

The toothbrush comes in paper packaging and an optional bamboo container. Bambuhay also plans to roll out a model that has a transparent handle made from a biodegradable, compostable plastic that will make visible the seed inside each toothbrush.  

Rounding out the top three businesses that participated in the final pitch of the pitch competition are Pieza PH, a digital marketplace for automotive parts, and Suds Sustainable Pods, a sustainable line of personal hygiene and household cleaning products. — Brontë H. Lacsamana