Young Filipino engineer remodels farm financing

Rachel de Villa, a platform engineer at Voyager Innovations Inc., the digital innovations unit of the PLDT Group, has been chosen by Forbes Magazine to be part of its Signature List 30 Under 30, a select group of millennial venture capitalists and financial technology entrepreneurs in Asia.

De Villa, who graduated from Quezon City Science High School in 2009 and obtained a Computer Science degree from the University of the Philippines in 2013, was chosen for her pioneering work on agritech startup Cropital, which she founded and serves as chief technology officer. Cropital is a platform that gives farmers access to scalable and sustainable financing through the crowd. It enables the public to help finance local Filipino farmers and gain returns at the same time. 

The farmers get to develop their operations with the aim of increasing their margins, while investors get a nominal return and the satisfaction of helping an often marginalized group.

Cropital founder and chief technology officer Rachel de Villa
Cropital is thus not your usual startup - it is a fintech startup that aims to serve a greater good. It is this social element that de Villa is most proud of when reflecting upon her selection for Forbes 30 Under 30.

“Being chosen as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 is a huge honor and one of the proudest moments in my young career. But I am ultimately most grateful for the selection because it brings more attention to Cropital and our mission to serve farmers in the Philippines and around the world through sustainable financing,” said de Villa, who has won several awards over the course of her career as a Voyager Innovations engineer in recognition of both her entrepreneurial as well as engineering skills.

De Villa has been with Voyager for almost three years - she was one of its earliest platform engineers - and during this time, she has placed or won many hackathons, including WebGeek DevCup Hackathon 2015, where her team was a top 4 winner, and Talk ‘N Text Mobile Web Developer Challenge, where her team won the grand prize.

Voyager Innovations is known in the industry for its perks, workplace, and benefits. But beyond the free morning treats, flexible working hours and cool office, what has  made the company into an innovation factory is its people. Each employee is encouraged to be entrepreneurial and to work effectively as individuals and teams.  

“We are proud of Rachel and all our young talents who are getting recognition for their achievements not just in the workplace but also in their personal lives. Our aim is to develop young talents who will settle for nothing less than changing the world through technology and entrepreneurship,” said Voyager first vice president and people group head Carla Lanza.

Voyager Innovations is fast gaining a name in the global tech industry. Under the leadership of Orlando Vea, who also founded Smart and Cignal, Voyager Innovations has so far produced over-the-top products and platforms for emerging markets including fintech services LockByMobile and Lendr, data in sachets network platform PowerApp, sponsored data platform SafeZone, shopping discovery platform Takatack,  overseas communication app Talk2, and with PayMaya Philippines, the digital payments app, PayMaya.

Vea said that de Villa’s selection for Forbes 30 Under 30 made him think back to his own beginnings as a tech entrepreneur.

“We congratulate Rachel on being part of the Forbes 30 Under 30. It brings honor not only to Voyager but to all Filipinos. We are here to support her remarkable passion for inclusive innovation,” said Vea.

Cropital is among the first batch of start-ups that have been accelerated by maGIC, the largest acceleration program in Southeast Asia.

Topics: Rachel de Villa , Voyager Innovations Inc. , agritech startup , Cropital , Forbes Magazine , Signature List 30 Under 30
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