One of two new interns occupying the back couch in the Makati Bitspace.
Hello, everyone! My name is Melissa Joseph, one of two interns at Brainsparks this summer! I'm so excited to be a part of the Brainsparks team and to get to learn about the tech and startup communities here in Manila.
I'm a rising senior at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was born in Massachusetts and have lived there almost the entirety of my life, with the exception of a short stint in Gaborone, Botswana in 2015. I study Social Anthropology with a minor in Ethnicity, Migration, and Human Rights. On campus, I am very active in my sorority, Delta Gamma, as well as directing a week long event for Taiwanese high school students at the end of the summer called Harvard Taiwan Leadership Conference. Beyond those activities, I am the Service Director for Harvard's Filipino club, and I plan and lead a 2.5 week service trip to Manila each January to teach workshops to street children in Ermita and learn about the social landscape of poverty and human rights in the Philippines.
With such a humanities focused background, it may be a hard stretch to understand why I'm working at a startup accelerator. I too, am a bit unsure of how I ended up here. I’m in the Philippines on a fellowship with the Kaya Collaborative, which is an organization that aims to engage the Filipino diaspora by bringing them back to the Philippines and partnering them with socially minded ventures. At school I study culture, and culture as a system of beliefs and values, and how people act within those systems of value. To me, entrepreneurship and innovation serve as a system of beliefs: a cultural foundation for the startup scene. This brings me to Brainsparks. This summer I’ll be spearheading a research project to survey local Filipino startup incubators and accelerators.
I’ll be traveling to different offices to learn about each co-working space, between the Brainsparks Makati and Batangas offices, and with Kaya Co. I’m excited to immerse myself in this community, and along the way gain valuable skills, field skills, and a network of motivated and talented professionals. I'm thinking of it like a "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" type deal... but more like "Where in Manila is Melissa Joseph?".
Interested in what the startup scene is like in the Philippines? Check back as I go place by place and learn about building business in the Manila. Let the summer begin!