Hygiene products company Sanitary Care Products Asia, Inc. (SCPA), in partnership with Asian Institute of Management-Dado Banatao Incubator (AIM-DBI), launched an accelerator program for Filipino start-ups called HIIGENE, which stands for Human Investment Impact Grant for Entrepreneurship and Empowerment. It aims to award not just a P500,000 equity-free grant to each of up to three deserving start-ups but would also conduct a three-month long mentorship by SCPA founders and executives themselves.

What does human investment look like in SCPA

President of SCPA and a certified Gallup strengths coach himself, Ven Sio, spearheaded the rollout of a strengths-based approach in the SCPA workplace.

“Instead of focusing on the weaknesses of our employees, we ask what each one is actually good at — identifying their unique strengths and positioning them in work responsibilities that will draw out the very best of them as needed by the company,” Mr. Sio shared.

This challenges SCPA managers to really understand the personal motivations, desires and dreams of each of their team members. Instead of a very top-down approach to managing performance, it takes on a 360 view of each employee and their role in the company.

SCPA’s commitment to people development goes beyond maximizing the strengths of their employees and placing them at the right seats. Mr. Sio acknowledges that equipping is equally important as empowerment. He recently developed a 20-week leadership track program with his HR team, onboarding various external training partners including iLeap, Ardy Abello, and AIM School of Executive Education and Lifelong Learning. It was rolled out to current and potential leaders in the company across all 23 branches nationwide.

“From a family-run business, we are working towards professionalizing the management of the company, but the standard for great management is set by us as founders. That’s a big task and I personally feel responsible for it. It’s an intentional journey we’ll need to take but one that is worth doing because great managers develop great people. We’ll need that caliber to continually drive our company to greater heights,” Mr. Sio explained.

Alongside the leadership programs being conducted, Mr. Sio has been sharing the company’s vision for the next 3 to 10 years, running nationwide town hall meetings with employees to expound on the path SCPA is taking.

“People are looking for a guiding light and direction especially in this pandemic,” Mr. Sio said. “I wanted to highlight the positive difference of being under a management that is clear on its vision and mission. While it takes a lot of patience, modeling, and a lot of repeating yourself, you are rewarded with a dedicated team who is pulling towards the same direction as you.”

How does human investment impact SCPA

At a very challenging time when some businesses have been forced to downsize their workforces, Mr. Sio took the lead in encouraging and empowering their employees when the pandemic struck the country. “One of the first things I mentioned to the team is ‘whatever happens, don’t let our team down; don’t let our customers down; don’t let our suppliers down,’ and ‘know that you’re not alone’,” he recalled.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the first crisis SCPA has faced. They survived the financial crisis back in 2008, a fire that struck down its Taguig plant in 2012, and a typhoon flooding in its Lipa plant in 2014. Through all of it, Mr. Sio acknowledges the loving and gracious hand of God that sustained and is continuously sustaining the business. But he also experienced and witnessed firsthand the return on the love and dedication for the company shown by SCPA staff.

“During the fire, as the main building was burning, our production team were out risking their lives to try and pull out the machines, trying to save what they could while the rest who were safe in another part of the compound remained focused on their work. No one ran away, no one stopped working. No one was forcing them to stay but they all simply did. It was safe enough where they were, they said, and they needed to get their job done. Our sales team also offered to waive their commissions if that would help the company stay financially afloat. I refused, of course, but I was very touched by their desire to help anyway they could. When this pandemic broke out, while we were deemed essential business that was allowed to operate, it was hard for our workers to come in. In their place, we had people from marketing offering to do production work so we could fulfill the demand. We provided transportation for our workers, so they managed to come in soon enough but the fact that other departments considered offering to do above and beyond their work was a blessing and a great encouragement. There truly is a positive impact from human investment in SCPA.”

SCPA’s hope for start-ups

HIIGENE’s top criterion in looking for the winning start-ups is the human investment at the very gene of the business because SCPA desires to support similar-minded companies who believe that investing in people is one of the many effective ways, if not the most, that can truly sustain and even propel the growth of any organization.

“Investing in people yields returns beyond the measurable,” Mr. Sio concludes, as he looks forward to mentoring the winning start-ups. “Having that conversation, affirming to them that their people are their only true assets, and telling our story; hopefully it will resonate with them,” he added.

Awarding of HIIGENE Grant will happen on June 24, 2021 at 3 p.m. via SCPA FB Page.
To know more about this program, watch the live launch at bit.ly/HIIGENELive.