This is the story of Krie Lopez, an artist and business scholar whose path led her to a career as a consultant in the Manila corporate world, filled with skyscrapers and air-conditioned malls. After eight years as an analyst and a stint as a CSR head, in spite of her personal success, she felt like something was missing in her life. The poverty and social issues of millions of people around her was impossible to ignore. But while Lopez admired the charities that were working to help alleviate poverty, she never wanted to rely on donations or be in a position to beg for funds just to keep her organization afloat. Her story really begins when she started wondering if there was a way to combine her flair and love for business with her desire to help others in her home country. It was on a trip to San Francisco where she found the inspiration to create Messy Bessy.
*Since starting work with the SAP Social Sabbatical program
This is also the story of Maria, the eldest of four children, whose parents lived in Tondo, Manila. Her family struggled just to get by, and was too poor to send her to college. When her father fell ill, Maria’s mother had to find a way to provide for Maria and her younger siblings. She turned to selling snacks during the day and repairing clothes at night. There was little opportunity for stable work so Maria, as the eldest child, performed various odd jobs from delivering water and selling snacks to carrying firewood, all for a handful of Philippine Pesos. It was never easy getting a job in her neighborhood, but she always considered herself lucky because she had a loving family that managed to pull together and support itself no matter the circumstances. Then one day Maria spotted a small notice inviting applications for a full-time job that promised to pay college fees. Opportunities like this were uncommon, so at first she thought that it had to be a scam. Despite her skepticism, she decided to fill out the application. Soon she was on her way to an interview that would change her life – at Messy Bessy.
The company that brings our two stories together is an innovative social enterprise in Manila, Philippines that sells natural cleaning and personal care products while training, educating, and empowering disadvantaged youth. Messy Bessy is an unlikely business model in a low-margin market taking on global corporations such as Unilever and Proctor & Gamble. Despite the odds, Messy Bessy and its brands Messy Man and Messy Baby have established themselves as known household names now marketed across the country.
What makes Messy Bessy unique is its approach to helping disadvantaged young adults. Krie’s inspiration was to provide real work in a profitable company and offer jobs specifically to disadvantaged young adults while supporting their educational goals. So she designed and executed a breakthrough program that provides education, on-the-job-training, work ethic enhancement, and values formation.
Krie’s dream of utilizing her business knowledge and experience to help less advantaged Filipinos has been realized – the company is thriving and is looking to expand sales and production internationally. The employees take on meaningful tasks such as mixing, labelling, deliveries, sales, etc., giving them a sense of pride in their work. On top of that, they can earn money to fund schooling as well as support their families. This support system is deeply embedded within the values of the organization. All managers spend at least two hours a week coaching and mentoring and Messy Bessy even employs a psychologist to support the young adults. As for Maria? She is now in her second year of employment and is studying for her college degree.
As a model social enterprise, Messy Bessy caught the attention of SAP through the SAP Social Sabbatical program. As a result, SAP sent two highly skilled teams over two consecutive years to spend one month working as pro bono business consultants for Messy Bessy. The first SAP team, in 2015, worked on supply chain processes and structures as well as efficiency measures in inventory and forecasting. Messy Bessy saw major growth as a result of the team’s efforts, and requested a second SAP team to look at market expansion and developing potential export markets in 2016.
“The greatest impact of the SAP Social Sabbatical is that it was able to directly give focus on and gain results in an area of the business that is critical to our growth and overall success. Because of the recommendations of the teams from SAP, our company was able to achieve record-breaking sales while minimizing growing pains on the back end.”
CEO and Founder, Messy Bessy
“Messy Bessy experienced a 44% growth in revenue and 100% growth in the number of beneficiaries after SAP Social Sabbatical, and this resulted in more opportunity for our employees in terms of education, work training, and capacity building. They were also exposed to a more technical and professional approach to supply chain, resulting in a more robust work experience for each scholar in the program,” says Krie.
Krie and her team appreciated the professional help but were even more impressed by the dedication and openness, as well as the care and attention given to the young adults by the SAP teams. Krie shared that “apart from the business results, the program was also an enriching experience for the beneficiaries – being exposed to people from different cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds who are so deeply committed to contributing positively to a social enterprise like Messy Bessy.”
Messy Bessy believes it has cracked the code to providing meaningful work and producing skilled and confident college graduates. It will continue expansion of the main company, while also supporting the new House Foundation, which provides structure and a blueprint for other social enterprises to follow in the footsteps of Messy Bessy’s success.