GBG Stories Search 2017 - Vote for your favorite story!

Now it's your chance to read the top 9 stories below from the GBG Stories Search 2017 and vote for your favorite. The community favorite will receive a trip to the Google I/O tech conference in California next year and have a video created.

Voting closes on Wednesday, Sept 13 at 11:59pm PST. 

  • Cafe Yagam, Philippines
  • LOTUS Spa, Indonesia
  • Eco Cell Industries, Nepal
  • Khaalisisi, Nepal
  •, Nepal
  •, Indonesia
  • Safe Eat, Morocco
  • SocialGiver, Thailand
  • Virtualahan, Philippines

The community favorite and top 3 stories voted by a Google judges will be announced on Friday, Sept 15.

Cafe Yagam

Poleen Carla Cawas Rosito, Founder & Owner | Baguio, The Philippines

For the past seven years, Poleen Carla Cawas Rosito has worked with an environmental NGO in Baguio. A someone who works closely with the indigenous communities of the Cordillera region, she sought to find a way to celebrate the rich heritage and local culture by opening her own cafe. Cafe Yagam, named after Poleen’s daughter, opened in 2014. It features a menu with locally grown and roasted coffee alongside delicious traditional regional cuisine. An anthropology graduate, Poleen says, “I learned that the way people cook, prepare or choose their ingredients reflects who they are as a culture, as a people. I always keep in mind that the food I serve is not just a dish but a part of a people and their culture.” Thanks to their efforts to digitize and get online after struggling during their first year of business, interest in Cafe Yagam shot up quickly. Poleen notes the restaurant experienced a 100% increase in sales, so much “that we were overwhelmed at first and we had to adjust right away to the demand. Many of our clients learned about us through researching online. Visitors often inform us that when they search for cafe or places to eat in Baguio, we’re there on Google Search.”  


Junita Setiawati Herlambang, Founder & CEO | Semarang, Indonesia

Although she graduated with a degree in pharmacy, Junita Setiawati Herlambang was told that she wouldn’t be able to practice due to regulations requiring pharmacists to have full hearing and speaking abilities. Junita is deaf, but being a non-hearing person hasn’t stopped her from building a business that empowers others to look good and feel good about themselves. After serving as an instructor in the Pacific International Beauty Institute in Surabaya, Indonesia, she became passionate about teaching others to succeed in the art of beauty and spa treatments. She’s a certified beauty trainer, a salon owner, and a frequent teacher who’s empowered hundreds of people through her work. She provides training to students at her salon and even provides free training for members of the disabled, deaf and mute community. She has trained 60 heads of special need schools from all over indonesia at the invitation of the Minister of Education and Culture. Thanks to GBG, she’s succeeded in growing her business, with over 70% of her customers and students finding her business online.  

Eco Cell Industries, Nepal

Nishan Chandi Shrestha, Co-founder & CEO | Dhulikhel, Nepal

In 2015, Nepal experienced its most devastating earthquake in more than 80 years. Thousands of lives were lost and over 3.5 million people became homeless. As Nishan Chandi Shrestha describes the time, “there was a dead scarcity of construction material for reconstruction after the earthquake. Victims were still living in tents. Nepal needed some new construction materials to build houses faster.” Mindful that the materials needed to be affordable, environmentally- friendly, and resilient against earthquakes, Nishan started Eco Cell Industries. Eco Cell Industries introduced the interlocking brick building technique immediately after the earthquake in Nepal. In the aftermath of the earthquake two years ago, Nishan and his team transferred the brick-making technology and know-how to affected villages where there were no accessible roadways or electricity. “We set up small manual production line in remote village and disaster affected areas, trained local people many of whom were earthquake victims, and used local soil to produce interlocking bricks locally, wherever necessary. Nishan ultimately aims to transfer this technology to other disaster-prone countries. The interlocking bricks can be stacked and interlocked to construct houses that are more resistant to earthquakes. Eco Cell Industries prides itself on a zero-carbon footprint. The bricks require little cement stabilization and fossil fuels aren’t used to make them, unlike conventionally made kiln-fired bricks. Eco Cell Industries’ bricks are made locally, sustainably, and encourages local entrepreneurship and employment. 


Aayushi KC, Founder & CEO | Kathmandu, Nepal

In Nepal, it’s estimated that 70% of waste is recyclable, but often becomes landfill. That’s why Khaalisisi is on a mission to make Nepal a zero-waste nation. The social enterprise provides a digital platform to connect waste sellers with waste entrepreneurs for an efficient mobilization of recyclable trash. Khaalisisi was founded by its CEO, Aayushi KC, who launched the startup after working for USAID in Nepal. When she first set out to disrupt the recycling business and establish an entirely new industry in the country, Aayushi recalls she was “undermined, ignored and ridiculed for my idea and approach. I figured, you have to let your work speak for you for success, male or female. Gender is just a state of mind not a recipe for success.” Traditionally, trash collection in Kathmandu is done with the help of waste entrepreneurs, locally known as Khaalisisi dai. Users in the capital can use the website to schedule the removal of waste at a convenient time. Users can decide whether or not to sell or donate their waste, and the waste entrepreneurs will pick it up at that appointed time. Waste can be purchased based on current standard market rates, such as Rs. 2 or ($0.02 USD) for a beer bottle, Rs. 10 ($0.10 USD) per kilo of newspapers. Recently, even the Government of Nepal requested a waste pickup with Khaalisisi. Today, the business supports 94 waste collectors and entrepreneurs in Kathmandu. As a result, the entrepreneurs have seen a 20% to 30% increase in their monthly income. Historically, waste entrepreneurs are discriminated against in Nepal because of their work. Aayushi is proud that Khaalisisi is “changing the mindset of people in the society by making our waste entrepreneurs heroes and champions of our society.”

Manish Modi, Managing Director | Kathmandu, Nepal

Growing up and learning the ropes of being an entrepreneur at the counter of his father’s shop, Manish Modi began operating his dad’s store on his own by the age of 12. After turning down the opportunity to go and work abroad, Manish says he “decided to stay in Nepal and make a difference in the lives of people here.” Now, as the Managing Director of Khalti, Manish and his team are working to empower people in Nepal financially by driving the country towards a cashless economy. Khalti’s mission is to ensure digital financial inclusion for every citizen in Nepal — connecting people across the Himalayan mountains to technology which allows them to digitally receive and make payments for services. In the process, Khalti hopes to enable many other service providers and vendors by building the necessary APIs to securely connect them to banking and financial institutions in Nepal and beyond. Ultimately, the startup hopes to bring cashless banking services to the fingertips of each Internet user in Nepal, making payments and mobile commerce as seamless as searching things on Google Search. “At the end of the day, no matter what business one’s in, it’s all about adding value to everyday users,” says Manish. “Khalti will definitely impact millions of lives in Nepal in days to come.”

Audrey Maximillian Herli, Founder & CEO | Surabaya, Indonesia

 In 2015, the World Health Organization reported globally, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds. The number is expected to rise to a suicide every 20 seconds by 2020. This devastating statistic encouraged Riliv’s founder and CEO, Audrey Maximillian Hurli, to take swift action. Riliv helps people overcome the stigma against accessing mental health care and therapy. The team behind the award-winning online platform is passionate about helping people in Indonesia achieve peace of mind by connecting them to professionally trained, certified, and confidential psychologists — even in the most remote areas of the country, such as Papua and Sulawesi. The platform aims to empower young people between the ages of 18 - 35 address undiagnosed anxiety, depression, addiction, work burnout and other conditions that benefit from treatment. In the past six months alone, the organization has fielded over 60,000 inquiries and has helped over 30,000 individuals who benefit from non-judgmental treatment and help. Riliv has been recognized with an award in Australia, as well as Google Japan’s “Impactful Android Application” award and its founder was distinguished among the “16 Best Young Social Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia” by Singapore International Foundation.  

Safe Eat

Siham Meftahi, Founder & CEO | Casablanca, Morocco

Safe Eat is an online network to empower female cooks to safely prepare and deliver homemade dishes for events of all kinds. The startup connects cooks to technology and encourages them to use Safe Eat as a marketing channel for their culinary creations. Founded by Siham Meftahi, who serves as the CEO, Safe Eat operates with the belief “every woman can stand up for herself and solve her own problems. Women shouldn't fear the fire but become it.” As a young woman growing up in Morocco, Siham says, “I was always impressed by women, especially Moroccan women and their fight against tradition.” After immersing herself in field research to find a solution to employ and empower more women, Siham met a woman in need of work who had untapped culinary knowledge. After studying the market together, they underscored how fast food constitutes a real danger for the consumer, and crafted a solution in the form of a startup. Thus Safe Eat was born and the platform gathers a network of women who prepare homemade dishes on their own and market them online. Safe Eat is a business by women aimed at empowering all women. “We started with two women cooking. Now, each time I see the impact of this simple idea in their lives I still see myself responsible for developing the project and reaching as many women as possible. I want to encourage them to be independent because every woman is strong, brave, courageous and smart.” 


Arch Wongchindawest, Founder & CEO | Bangkok, Thailand

SocialGiver is a tech-driven social enterprise powering a win-win-win 'giving economy' where people and businesses can easily contribute to a better world. After reading that some 700 million people go hungry every day, SocialGiver’s founder, Arch Wongchindawest, began to work on a solution to engineer better ways for companies to give back. He identified a key issue: Lack of public engagement and lack of resources to help tackle some of society’s most pressing needs. He observes, “Not enough people identify themselves with a cause/charity and relying on donations had never been enough to solve the problem. That’s how I discovered a way to utilize consumer spending to fuel social impact project.” Arch saw how hotels, restaurants, and leisure services are not often operating at full-service capacity and devised a way to help them 'give back' to the community. As a result, he launched Today, gift cards from over 160 leading brands across Thailand are sold on at the best available market rates. Most impressively, 70% of the entire revenues are donated to charity while the remaining 30% helps Socialgiver sustain and grow the giving economy. Socialgiver lets anyone travel, eat, and enjoy new experiences to change the world.


Ryan Dawa Gersava, Founder | Davao, The Philippines

The youngest of 10 children, Ryan Dawa Gersava was born in the one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. “The first time I got to see a computer was during my sophomore year in high school,” Ryan says. A medical technician and aspiring medical student, Ryan was diagnosed with Hepatitis B — an incurable disease of the liver — five years ago. It cost him his job and his dream of going to medical school. Out of great difficulty, came positive change: The event led him to build Virtualahan, a social enterprise that trains and employs people who experience employment discrimination due to a medical condition or disability. Today, there are 97 graduates with a 76% employment rate. Graduates earn 50-60 times higher than the minimum wage in the Philippines. To connect jobseekers who are at-risk for discrimination, Virtualahan recruits, screens, and qualifies candidates to undergo an intensive six-week skills and capacity building program. Successful graduates receive employment support through direct hiring, referrals, and job application support. “People with a disability, or those who are born with congenital or autoimmune diseases, even former drug addicts and sex workers are not just battling for their lives, but they’re enduring unequal treatment daily,” Ryan observes. Using his personal motivation, Virtualahan solution for the Philippines may find success abroad as well. Ryan sums up the team’s mission neatly: “We believe promoting a productive workplace free from discrimination, where everyone is treated as an equal.”