On the one hand, she holds the title «Miss Earth Switzerland 2010» and was a frequent guest on Swiss television. On the other hand, she is an effective business economist.
Two years ago, Liza Andrea Kuster (she now calls herself Lizan) moved from Switzerland to Manila. The thirty-year-old founded the Impact Hub Manila, together with her fiancé Mathias Jäggi and her friend Celeste Rondario. Running for less than two years, things are going well for them. «Already as a little girl I knew I will do something in the Philippines, the homeland of my mother», Kuster says. But: «I had no idea what the price for this would be: sleepless nights, pain, and constantly having to find the courage to take new risks.»
Doing the right thing
People in the Philippines don’t have equal opportunities. For example, there is no guarantee that everyone can go to school, nor has a work. Kuster takes pride in doing something about this disparity and supports entrepreneurs in their growth and thus create jobs. «I know that my work might be a drop in the ocean. But, I’d rather be a part of the solution than a part of the problem. I am convinced that every human being deserves and has rights – but we also have a duty to change this world into a better place.»
Locally rooted but globally connected
Lizan Kuster’s work does not stop with start-ups, she is also a contact person for larger companies, especially in Asia and Europe. A recent example is the collaboration between the Swiss Embassy, with its representative Swiss Vice Ambassador in Manila, Raoul Imbach. «Together with Kickstart-Accelerator, we trained the most promising Asian start-ups, so that they can attend the international support program in Zurich and Basel.»
Three startups from the Philippines and India were given the advantage to be shortlisted and fly to Switzerland to participate in Kickstart-Accelerator, for a chance to scale their innovations.
The teams that will be further shortlisted will meet over 15 corporate partners and mentors on September in Switzerland who will do a «Proof of Concept» trial to evaluate the feasibility of the pilot project and potential for working together. The event will conclude with a Final Demo Day on November, where each team will pitch their business ideas to potential investors.
And when does Kuster visit Switzerland? «I am several months a year in Switzerland and Europe, mostly to host events», Lizan Kuster laughs.