Green Business: When Women Lead, the Environment Wins

Meet the women who are making a difference with green business: sustainable brands that are part of SM Green Finds, the company’s environmental initiative.

Meet the women who are making a difference with green business: sustainable brands that are part of SM Green Finds, the company’s environmentally friendly retail initiative.

This Women’s Month, SM Retail puts the focus on ‘green business:’ sustainable businesses with women at the helm. When women lead, our entire society wins. It’s becoming increasingly clear that women leaders put social issues, such as the environment, first. In fact, countries with women leaders–Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Adern, Finland’s Sanna Marin–proved to be successful in combating COVID-19 during the pandemic. And healthcare is only the beginning. Women leaders in government and in business have been known to pay special attention to education, equal opportunities, the environment and other social issues. 

Women, according to the United Nations Foundation, “are more likely to prioritize health and well-being and our natural resources. When they participate in peace processes, the results are more inclusive and durable. When they lead within companies, those companies make more money and have less turnover. When they lead within economies, those economies grow.”

It is this dedication to “well-being and our natural resources” that makes women who lead so powerful. While inclusion and equality are undoubtedly necessary in today’s society, it is often understated that the leadership of women leads to real, tangible benefits.

Today SM Retail puts the focus on three women leaders who lead their companies among SM’s stable of brands: Gigi Uy-Cirera of Ultima Linen, Belinda Sarmiento of Margaret Muir, and Eva Marie Adona Yu of Eva Marie. Together, they are making a difference with sustainable practices in their respective green business.

green business

Gigi Uy-Cirera of Ultima Linen

Gigi Uy-Cirera is the woman behind Ultima Linen, a line of bedsheets made from bamboo cotton, a sustainable material. Compared to cotton, bamboo plants are environmentally friendly, and the manufacturing process produces a smaller carbon footprint. It can also be more ethical to produce as many cotton plantations to this day are notorious for poor working conditions.

“We get a lot of our materials from different areas in China, but we also do what we can to source from other countries and locally,” Uy-Cirera explains. “Of course we make sure they are aligned with our goals and practices. We’ve established some very good relationships over the years.”

For Uy-Cicera, sustainability is more than just meeting market demand for such products. It’s about the future of Ultima Linen.

She says, “We want to continue growing the business and expanding into other lines. We have also decided to lean into the sustainability agenda with our products and with how we run our company. We want to last.”

green business

Belinda Sarmiento of Margaret Muir

Margaret Muir is a line of beddings sold through SM Home. Its products are also made from sustainable materials.

The woman behind this green business is Belinda Sarmiento, who also brought the Martha Stewart franchise into the Philippines. She says, “I see to it that I source my products from reputable suppliers from both abroad and locally that adhere to high quality and sustainable standards from both the product and packaging.”

A key part of her success has been working with partners who share her vision and her values, such as SM Home, which supports sustainable businesses with its Green Finds initiative. She explains, “Therefore, it is a strategic decision on my part to join SM Home and grow together as partners. From that standpoint, I was able to adapt to the direction of the group which also greatly improved my product assortment.”

Eva Marie Adona Yu of Eva Marie

Eva Marie is a sustainable crafts business named after its owner, Eva Marie Adona Yu. Started by her parents, the green business makes woven bags created by local communities in Basey Samar where she gives livelihood opportunities to women in the area.

From humble beginnings, the business had its origins as part of the banig (woven mat) industry. But when Eva Marie’s parents retired, she took over the business in 2009. Thanks to participation in trade fairs sponsored by the Depart of Trade and Industry, her green business was discovered by Kultura, where she has been selling her products ever since.

Green Business Wins When Women Lead

When women lead, the environment wins. It is this kind of leadership that SM Retail is putting a focus on this Women’s Month with its Green Finds initiative. Through the efforts of these women leaders and their sustainable businesses, we can all look forward to a brighter, greener tomorrow.