Ep. 5: Ayesha Vera-Yu, Investment Banker Turned Rogue Farmer & Social Entrepreneur (Pt. 1 of 2)

Ayesha Vera-Yu is in the business of feeding people through her social innovator Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK) that seeks to feed kids in the rural Philippines and get them back to school.  Prior to that, Ayesha was an investment banker for 12 years in the complex areas of leverage finance and debt syndication.  However, between those two worlds, Ayesha actually made a radical change and became a farmer, converting her family farm back in the Philippines into a fully organic one in a short period of time.  This first of two episodes dives deep into Ayesha’s experience transitioning from slingin’ deals behind a desk to harvesting rice on a field.  With a background in Biology and Chemistry, her experiences in Finance, and an all-around rebellious mind, Ayesha draws insightful connections between the oft-hidden world of farming and our dinner tables.  If Freakonomics did a feature on farming…this would be it.

We talk about:
- how she managed the hardest part of an organic conversion: the people
- the economics behind why farmers in rural countries remain poor and in debt
- the shocking facts behind our rice and breakfast cereals
- why “bad” food is far cheaper than healthier/organic alternatives (and no it’s not just because of good marketing)
- applying a business-minded approach to food systems and farming + why education is key to eating well
- why conventional farming is far costlier than it looks


13:00 - On the linearity of a chemical-based farming system and why it creates a system of dependency
17:50 - The most common disease amongst rural farmers
21:50 - The World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin
26:00 - How Ayesha began the road to converting her family farm into an organic one
30:00 - Joel Salatin
30:45 - The hardest part about converting a farm into an organic one: human beings and behavior
38:50 - The root causes for cyclical poverty amongst rural farmers
42:00 - How much Ayesha saved by converting to organic from conventional farming
48:00 - How fear and illiteracy keeps rural farmers from progressing
51:00 - Why conventionally farmed food is so cheap...and why it should really be far more expensive
59:00 - Creating new markets for your products especially if the current market is run by a monopoly
1:00:50 - Why high malnutrition exists amongst farmers despite them growing food

Facebook - AdvancementforRuralKids
Twitter - @ruralkids
Instagram - @ruralkids