YOUTH FOR A LIVABLE CEBU Co.: Transforming Trash to High-Fashion Accessories by Community-Based Women's Group

Cebu, PhilippinesCebu, Philippines
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Youth for a Livable Cebu Online Trashion Shop (YLCOTS) is a shop known for its unique design sensibility on upcycling garbage made by housewives from Typhoon Haiyan-affected communities. YLCOTS has partnered with commercial establishments to acquire the garbage materials used for production.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if garbage can be transformed by unskilled housewives into high-fashion, luxury accessories and compete in the global market of couture fashion?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Proper waste management in commercial establishments in Cebu is a huge concern because of its weak institutional and organizational system. In effect, commercial establishments contribute significantly to the improper disposal of garbage. On the other hand, housewives in typhoon Haiyan-affected communities lack the ability to support and account for the financial recovery of their families because of the lack of income-generating opportunities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The approach of YLCOTS is four-pronged. We have established a participatory partnership with commercial establishments that is responsive and appropriate to the needs of their solid waste management. YLCOTS is in collaboration with designers that can work innovatively and creatively with garbage materials. YLCOTS organizes a women’s group in the community and conducts skills training and creativity enhancement programs, with the assistance of our partner designers. Once the community is ready for production, another set of training is done to ensure production and quality excellence. The housewives are paid by their output. A strategic marketing campaign is done per collection - from concept to publicity.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Prior to the partnership, 360 Pharmacy, P. Del Rosario Branch, would throw away their plastic wrappers of bottled water and mix these with biodegradable, organic trash. When designer Francis Sollano created a mutual agreement to collect their plastic garbage wrapper, the establishment was glad to cooperate, as this is garbage out from their establishment. Now, the establishment allocates this particular trash to be donated to the designer and upcycled into high-fashion accessories. The pharmacy now segregates their plastic, non-biodegradable trash from their organic, biodegradable waste. This development in their system has positively contributed to the fast and systematic solid waste management in their establishment.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The agreement with 1 commercial establishment has prioritized the implementation of City Ordinance 2255 and regulations set by the City Solid Waste Management Board. Two designers have now enhanced their ability to manipulate materials and creatively come up with accessories fit for high fashion with two collections that we have launched. The program has enhanced their design approach making sure that their process has the least carbon footprint as possible. Lastly, 12 housewives in Sta. Fe, Bantayan who were earning from USD 0-1.00 are now able to assist their family’s finances with the artisanal work they are doing. The system provides technical enhancement boosting their self-worth as individuals. The plan is to add one more establishment and launch 2 more collections by the end of the year, with a target to provide USD 2.00 per day earning per housewife.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The goal is to share this system with other designers from different cities and provinces. It is planned to spread in key cities through Youth for a Livable Cebu’s Livable Communities campaign. It empowers the youth in developing socially responsible wealth creation initiatives. In 5 years, it is projected that YLCOTS will work in ten cities with a replicated business model and grow 25-30 collections, ranging from wearable fashion to bags. Ultimately, the program shall work with 10 more communities of women and increasing their financial allowance to support their families by USD 5.00/day.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project was launched only through Facebook mid-June 2014 with a capitalization of USD 200.00, all coming from the designer. After 2 weeks of its launch, there is an average gross influx of USD 46.00/week. Once YLCOTS is fully launched, it is forecasted to sustain steady cash flow by retail sales. The goal of the program is to finance it through income-generating methods such as sales and marketing and additional capitalization by investors.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Several attempts have been made by different groups to transform trash into profitable upcycled fashion accessories. Three of these are Rags2Riches, Terracycle and Hipcycle. These retailers have been successful in transforming trash to profitable businesses. However, YLCOTS sets itself apart since it is deeply rooted in the aesthetics of high fashion where the designs are absolutely not garbage-oriented. We also create strong partnerships with the commercial establishments and communities that we work with so that there is a wholistic, triple bottom-line approach.

Founding Story

The journey started when, on a rainy Saturday night, Francis Sollano was driving in his car and there was heavy traffic caused by the terrible flooding in the highway. It was clear that the cause of the flooding was the unimaginable plastic garbage clogging the drainage system, not allowing the water to freely pass through. The flooding destroyed several cars and disrupted businesses. Similarly, the devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan broke the hearts of the members of Youth for a Livable Cebu. It is for this reason that the team piloted the program in the coastal communities affected by the typhoon since the team had a first hand experience of disasters indirectly caused by climate change and human disregard for the environment.


There are four core team members; one functions as the administrative head and the lead for volunteers; another functions as the creative head, constantly searching for innovative approaches to social problems through creative thinking; someone is tasked for community wellness who is tasked to inspire the women in their tasks and implement programs for their financial security; and lastly, one is assigned for marketing and sales.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, CEB, Cebu

Country where this project is creating social impact

, CEB, Cebu

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?



Waste and Packaging, Opportunities for Women.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

We build solid partnerships with commercial establishments and designers so they work together in creatively developing accessories out garbage. Our links to local government units allow us to easily penetrate communities and train women to produce these designs. Our profitability market is segmented into three differing in age and their disposable income. However, all these three segments are in need of high fashion accessories which are unique and avant-garde in aesthetics.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The prize money will significantly benefit the product research and development of our designs. Since we source solely on non-toxic, non-organic commercial garbage, and the goal is to create high fashion accessories, there is a need for high innovative material manipulation and creative output. This requires acquiring manual tools and equipment that can help us in developing designs.

It is also necessary to join fashion exhibitions in order to further spread the initiative while creating strong publicity - awareness and consciousness has to be built in the market. There is a need to invest on trade shows and promotions in the next two years which the prize money funding can definitely assist us.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

As a designer known for my fashionable takes on upcycling garbage, our team has successfully launched wearable trash art in Cebu. As a Business Management graduate from Philippine' top university, our team has incorporated our love for the natural environment in our delicate handmade creations under the label FRANCISSOLLANO. Recently awarded as a Global Shaper by World Economic Forum from our team's work on liveability and sustainable design.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?


Are you are a current Unilever employee?