Antonio Meloto

Gawad Kalinga (GK)
Year founded: 

To eliminate poverty, Gawad Kalinga focuses on sustainable community building through the creation of “GK villages” to address housing, education, environment and health issues.

Focus: Health, Housing, Environment, Enterprise Development
Geographic Area of Impact: Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 1,000,000 (2003-2010)
Recognition: Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Philippines, 2010

Following World War II the Philippines was regarded as the second wealthiest nation in Asia after Japan. Today, political instability, rampant systemic corruption and ineffective governance have resulted in a growing gap between rich and poor, and stifled the country's economic growth. At least 4.5 million Filipinos are homeless, 75% of which are informal settlers in main urban centres. About 4 million Filipino households experience hunger and 50% of the population does not have access to healthcare.

Innovation and Activities
Gawad Kalinga tackles poverty by combining multiple solutions through its GK villages. With sponsorships from various sectors, GK works with impoverished communities to build homes, schools, clinics, community centres and businesses. Services include educational programmes for youth, formation programmes for GK village residents, trained community health workers and capacity building for solid waste management programmes.

GK is multifaceted in its approach to poverty alleviation and development. It seeks to restore dignity by providing shelter and community infrastructure, and ensures that families have security of tenure in the areas in which GK builds. While building materials are provided through corporate donations, GK residents provide “sweat equity” by helping construct their homes. Additionally, GK promotes environmentally friendly projects, such as solid waste management and partnership with environment advocacy groups and government agencies.

Through its Child and Youth Development programme, GK provides school supplies, academic tutorials and mentorships, sports and creative workshops, and educational sponsorships. To combat hunger, it sets up family-based farms aided by training centres and agricultural technology transfer. In the area of health, there are 1,000 residents in over 384 GK villages trained to promote basic health concepts, first-aid, and disseminate donated supplies and medicines. GK’s vision of a slum-free, squatter-free Philippines is matched by a campaign to end poverty for 5 million of the poorest families by 2024.

The Entrepreneur
Tony Meloto was born to a lower middle class family in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. At a young age he was exposed to the squalid living conditions of the poor, as his home was near a shoreline squatter community where poverty was very pronounced. He qualified as a full academic scholar at the Ateneo de Manila University, and after graduating in 1971 with a degree in economics, took a position as a purchasing manager with Procter & Gamble. As a Christian, Meloto was involved in working with the poor in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, through a programme started by the Couples for Christ Ministry. The programme began in 1995 and evolved into Gawad Kalinga, a movement that builds integrated and sustainable communities in slum areas. Meloto has been at the forefront of this work ever since. He has been awarded the Ateneo de Manila University Ozanam Award (2003), Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (2006), Gawad Haydee Yorac Award (2006), the Humanitarian Service Award of the Philippine Heritage Institute (2009), the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth (2011), and the 2012 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for his work in poverty alleviation.