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Ms. Reese Fernandez delivers her acceptance speech during the 2010 Rolex Award for Enterprise held on 11 November 2010 in Lausanne.

Filipino Entrepeneur Ms. Reese Fernandez
Receives 2010 Rolex Award for Enterprise in Switzerland

17 November 2010.
The Philippine Embassy in Switzerland reported that 25 year-old Filipino social entrepreneur Reese Fernandez received the 2010 Rolex Awards for Enterprise: Young Laureates Programme.
 
The elegant award ceremony held at the Rolex Learning Center in Lausanne on November 11.
 
Ms. Fernandez was joined by four other Young Laureates from Nigeria, India, Ethiopia, and the United States.
 
Philippine Ambassador Maria Theresa P. Lazaro, who was present at the award ceremonies, commended Ms. Fernandez for her commitment to change the lives of Filipino women and their respective families by providing them the opportunity to work and earn a decent living.
 
The Rolex Awards provided grants of US$50,000 each to the five young Laureates for their projects. All winners were also given a Rolex chronometer and will benefit from an international publicity campaign.
 
Ms. Fernandez was raised by her mother, a missionary who travelled around the Philippines ministering to the poor, thus exposing her to poverty and suffering at an early age.
 
It was during this time that she learned that the best way to improve children’s lives was to support their mothers.
 
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University, Ms. Fernandez’s commitment to helping others improve their lives led her to the mothers of Payatas, where she was able to harness her sharp business and managerial skills in the pursuit of her passion.
 
Together with dedicated friends and supporters and inviting leading Filipino stylists and handbag designers, she opened a business called “Rags2Riches” which transforms colorful rugs hand-woven by the women of Payatas into creative designed handbags, wine bottle holders, eyeglasses cases and yoga mat carriers.
 
The company has enabled 350 women to transform their lives (with 54 of them founding a cooperative that owns a share of the company); expanded its reach from one to 21 communities across the Philippines; grown from a single volunteer staff member to 10 paid staff; recycled 800 tonnes of scrap cloth; and earned P4 million (US$86,720).
 
In 2009, Rolex introduced the Young Laureates Programme to encourage younger pioneers, helping them to develop the skills and spirit of enterprise they need to meet the challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century.
 
The program rewards creativity in five areas: science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation.

The criteria for selecting the Laureates are based on their project’s feasibility, originality, potential for sustained impact, and above all, on the candidate’s own spirit of enterprise.

For more information on the Rolex awards, you may check its website at http://young.rolexawards.com.

 
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