#20 – Mark Ruiz – Women Micro-Entrepreneurs Using Business and Technology to Create Economic Impact in the Philippines

Hapinoy works with sari-sari store nanays. Pictured: Tita Teresa Grefal in her sari-sari store

Hapinoy works with sari-sari store nanays. Pictured: Tita Teresa Grefal in her sari-sari store

As you may know, I spent a few months in the Philippines last year. And it was amazing. There’s a special place in my heart for that country and the incredible people there. During my time there, I met up with Mark Ruiz. Mark is one of the co-founders of Hapinoy -  a social enterprise that work with women or nanays, who run small convenience stores, otherwise known as sari-sari stores in the Philippines. Sari-sari stores typically sell canned goods, rice, noodles, coffee, shampoo and toothpaste. Products are sold to locals from the neighbourhood in small packets or numbers, with very small profit margins. The stores are run informally, within the family and financial mismanagement is common. Hapinoy trains the women running these stores how to improve their business practices, get loans and earn more income. Recently they’ve included a technology piece to their work which you can hear more about in this episode.

I first heard about Hapinoy when I started running Project Inspire in Singapore. They were the first social enterprise to win the US$25,000 grand prize, thanks to Mastercard and undoubtedly are probably one of the most successful social enterprises to win.

I’m really excited to introduce you to Hapinoy and Mark today. I really believe in their work and the impact that they are creating. Now one thing that you should know about the Philippines is that internet connection is notoriously challenging... Mark also has a bit of a cold during this episode so there’s a few unedited sneezes. I’m sure you can also hear my dog bark once or twice in this episode because she was sitting under my desk while I was recording and I felt bad leaving her outside the room…. Anyway, I think all of this adds a bit of character to this episode so I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please show me some love by making sure you subscribe, rate, review and share your favourite episode with your friends.

Favorite quote from episode:

“Everything starts from small seeds - you just have to start planting as soon as possible” – Mark [51:00]


People/ items mentioned in this episode:


Happinoy Sari-Sari Store Program

Hapinoy Bizmo

Hapinoy Project Bagong Araw – Natural Disaster Resilience

Typhoon Haiyan

Philippines - Gender Equality

World Economic Forum Global Gender Hap Report 2016

Project Inspire


Get in contact with Mark through Hapinoy by checking out their Website and Facebook. You can also get in contact with the team via Email


Show notes

-       What is Hapinoy? [05:50]

-       Mark shares the journey of starting up Hapinoy [11:35]

-       The challenges of introducing fintech tools in emerging markets [18:00]

-       Where did the name ‘Hapinoy’ come from and what does it mean? [26:00]

-       “When you lend to women, the repayment rate shoots up” [33:02]

-       What is the impact of the work that Hapinoy is doing in the Philippines? [38:20]

-       20 years from now, what could this be? [44:20]

-       “If the idea is worth pursuing, you’ll find a way” [50:30]

-       Three Things [52:27]


What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Let me know in the comments!