Profession: Founder, CEO and president of Agrea Agricultural Systems International
Cherrie Atilano always follows a simple lesson her mother taught her when she was 6: “The shortest distance in life is from the brain to the heart”. By this, she wanted Atilano to not only be successful but make a difference in the lives of people.
For almost 22 years, Atilano had carried out her love for educating people through various projects in the agricultural sector because she values farmers as major contributors to the country’s economic growth. “We have been training people to read and write the most practical and sustainable ways to develop their land [and] teaching them financial literacy,” she shares.
She institutionalised this involvement by founding AGREA in 2014. A coinage of the words Agriculture and “Gaea” or environment in Greek, AGREA is a Filipino agriculture-focused, for-purpose, inclusive business that empowers farmers and their communities as impactful agents of change. Through AGREA, Cherrie aims to bring sustainable agricultural practices to farmers and provide farmers fair prices for their produce.
Her work has likewise made an impact on her life as a person and a social entrepreneur. She says, “The poorest of the poor in the farming communities are my brightest teachers; they teach me life and what matters most in life. In AGREA, our business is not transactional but transformational. We have a mantra of ‘ecology of dignity’. [We dignify] the food producers by making sure that they are educated, supported and respected.”
Recently, the AGREA Rescue Kitchen that was established during the pandemic won a grant from Food Solidarity Fund by the Social Gastronomy Movement in Brazil. Atilano was also awarded by the Cultural Vistas USA as the Most Impactful Alumni and appointed United Nations Global Champion for Food Systems Summit.
For all her work, initiatives and achievements in the agriculture sector, Atilano was recently appointed Philippine Ambassadress on Food Security by the Department of Agriculture.