Founder Spotlight: Ann Cuisia of GAVA

Gava – this fresh crowdfunding app is shaking up more millennials and genX alike.

By Jonaima Panalondong

              Filipinos are known to be thoughtful. Whenever they go out of town, pasalubong or souvenirs are a must. When a relative or friend’s child is getting married or graduating, material gifts or cash are given. During the Christmas season, many friends or coworkers plan a potluck to send Noche Buena sets for the impoverished. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are not present during family events could only have their presence felt by sending gifts.

               However, distance and busyness of people required gifting to be more convenient. Gava is a crowdfunding platform for gifts & causes intended for marrying couples, event celebrants and charity foundations. Crowdfunding is a gathering of family and friends funding a common campaign.


Finding true happiness

              Behind Gava is a woman with thorough experience in the corporate world, Ann Cuisia. The founder and CEO of Gava was an Information Technology Professional for twenty years providing software solutions in financial institutions and retail companies; in addition to that, she has also worked as an IT advisor for non-profit organizations. “I’ve worked with multinational companies for profit and also had the opportunity to help non-profit organizations. And I have found my true happiness on projects I believe will touch more lives of people who have lesser chance of making it well in this world.” she said.

              Having reached the top of her career as Vice President of multinational companies, she thought it was only financially rewarding. She asked herself what she should do next. When asked if she needed challenge, she said, “I need a purpose more than a challenge. I think being an entrepreneur right now in a startup are the hats I wore before put into one. It is more of asking myself at the end of the day about what I am able to do with my talents and what I have contributed to society.”

              “I think who you are today is a collective efforts of different people who affected you in the course of your career. It could be the good and the bad experiences, or the lessons of the past. You go, you fail, you go and you mature. ”

             In five years, Gava aspires to fund 250 thousand campaigns launched from at least 10 countries through effective crowdfunding. They are eyeing countries with high giving index, high internet usage, and high population. “Success is when you are impacting life already. We want to impact life in a bigger scale than now. We want the app to be a facility for people who want to help other people – right on your fingertips,” she said.


Generosity, a misconception for some


                Because times have changed, people forget the value of generosity. Especially millennials, people are into social media, dating apps, and games. Gava wants to make a difference in that space wherein young people use that tech to have a young community where they share the same values and share the same cause. Gava would like to embed that culture of generosity in the new age and generation. “We normally see generosity as a virtue only fitting to those rich and famous, to those who have the means to give. Gava sees giving as a condition of the heart that is never based on amount. We want the future generations to embrace that culture and there is an app for that,” she said.


                  Gava does not have any direct competitor yet in the space of crowdfunding for both gifts and causes in Asia. Gava is the first online marketplace for charitable foundations in the Philippines.


                  “Giving through our mobile app is fun, easy and rewarding. Here, we want to celebrate life and events of people. We want to be top of mind when it comes to gift sharing, whether of items or causes.,” she said. The mobile app is internationally ready. Users from different countries can launch gifts locally or upload the photo of the gifts they like and crowdfund among friends. Gava buys the item either online or from partner merchants locally and delivers to the gift launcher.


To the future of Filipino startups


            In comparison with other countries, Filipinos have brilliant startups but they lack exposure. In Singapore, they monitor startups and give them enough exposure. Many Filipino investors invest in other countries since they do not have enough information about Filipino startups.


            Ann Cuisia believes the entrepreneurs need to be mature, flexible, and adaptable to handle stress and challenges, and extend themselves productively. “You are not just after good product development, but you are also after the business, so be cautious of numbers,” she said. She believes that it takes a mature, disciplined and seasoned leader to handle and understand that requirement. “There are young founders who are fresh from college, and have a brilliant idea, but time would test and stretch them. We hope that they develop faster than ordinary persons of their age because being in a startup is no joke.” she added.


           “Just pursue your dreams. Be passionate. It will drive them you to really reach the goals you want to, but of course, business is business. They have to take the calculated risk and not be too aggressive. Do things without money first,” her message to the future startup founders.