Gino Genson is the co-founder and business lead at Re(source), a carbon offset development company that helps homeowners sell their solar-PV carbon offsets.
life story so far
Gino Genson was born in the Philippines, in Iloilo City, the fifth of seven children. His parents were “serial entrepreneurs” who ran a series of bakery franchises, and his mom had a tailoring business that supplied the uniforms for local Catholic schools.
“A big part of my childhood was getting to experience them going through different little journeys with each of these different businesses,” Gino says. “Growing up, I was actually super resentful of entrepreneurship, because my parents were never at home…I remember when I was very young, I made a promise to myself I’d never be a business person…Then, you know, lo and behold, I’m here now doing a startup and all these different entrepreneurship activities.”
As a child, Gino spent a lot of time in his family’s little library, devouring factbooks, almanacs, and a tome detailing all the conflicts of the 20th Century, given to him for his tenth birthday by his father.
“My dad used to call me a walking encyclopedia because I would spout out random facts out of nowhere,” he says. “I loved reading, I loved consuming information, especially about history.”
Archipelago life guaranteed a love of water, swimming and various aquatic sports. Gino’s dad bought an old speedboat from the coastguard, and the family would go out and spend time on their own little island.
In 2008, when Gino was 12 years old, his dad had a heart attack; clinically dead for 40 minutes, he lost a lot of oxygen to his brain before being resuscitated.
“He’s sort of, you know, himself, but from that day on, he wasn’t able to form new memories. His memory only dates back to 15 years ago, or anything from his childhood mostly. He had no memory of his kids. He still knew my mom, he still knew that they were married, but he forgot who we were. Every day he would wake up and it was like his brain would reset, basically,” Gino says. “And that changed all of our lives forever, completely.”
With his dad unable to work, Gino’s mom had to take over. And in the midst of the family’s crisis, the city was hit with a typhoon and flooding.
“We were stuck in the hospital for a few days, because we were visiting my dad and the typhoon was so bad. Power was out everywhere. And my mom was stressing out about all these bakeries, all these businesses that we had that were flooding.”
The next four years were hard on everyone. By 2012, Gino really wanted to go to film school, but financially it made more sense to stay close to home, the university next door, in fact, where he studied advertising because there was a film component to the program. After graduating in 2016, he got a job working at a production company in Manila.
“That was a super great experience because I got to taste what I wanted, my initial dream of becoming a director and making documentaries and films and stuff. I got to travel a bunch, and do all these interesting projects: commercials, a lot of lifestyle and travel shows.” But the industry itself did not agree with him. “It’s super toxic. It’s so full of a scarcity mindset where people are just trying to get ahead, and there’s limited opportunities available.”
Around that time, Gino was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and general anxiety disorder.
“All this anxiety I was having, I don’t think came out of nowhere. I felt like there was a root cause to it. So I kept seeing a psychiatrist. And then ultimately I got diagnosed with ADHD as the root cause because, you know, you often get anxiety as a comorbidity of an underlying condition,” he says. “I think that was a huge turning point in my life when I got that diagnosis.”
Suddenly, the confusion and disconnection he had felt growing up, the feeling that something was off, made sense.
“When I got that diagnosis, and I learned about ADHD and all that, I could finally put a name to it. This is what is going on,” he says. “Now I can form a plan on how to handle it going forward…Still isn’t perfect, but, you know, it’s a work in progress.”
When Gino started out in video production, he asked his mom for advice on how to develop his career.
“She always told me, ‘Be useful,’” Gino says. “I want to provide value to people around me. And honestly, at the end of the day, I feel like there’s nothing better for me to do in my life…Oh, and have fun doing it!”
Parts of his job were fun, but Gino didn’t want to keep working at something that didn’t feel meaningful. In college he had been inspired by Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk.
“He had this vision of doing something, he had big ideas, and he just wanted to take action. He decided to leave South Africa, go to the States, start a bunch of businesses, and do things that made an impact. I saw that and I was thinking, ‘If one person can decide to do that, why can’t I?’”
Gino moved to Edmonton in January 2020, and took courses in project management and supply chain global logistics at Grant MacEwan while looking to start a company that would make a difference.
As he became aware of Alberta’s oil and gas industry, alongside the global drive to reduce emissions because of climate change, he sensed there might be an opportunity “to address this disconnect between what the world wants to do and what we’re currently doing,” he says. “Maybe there’s some insights to be gained or some sort of framework or tool that we can build here that we can hopefully scale and translate to the rest of the world.”
rooted in people or place
The question of being rooted in either people or placer isn’t exactly binary for Gino, but connected to his motivation to provide value to those around him.
“I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve lived in different places, and I don’t like staying in one place for too long. I get antsy,” he says. “And then with people, I’ve always felt that weird disconnect…I feel like it’s partly why I left home, because I felt that disconnect growing up.”
But any sense of disconnection doesn’t get in the way of his goal to build something here that he can bring back to help build energy resilience in the Philippines, which is extremely exposed to the effects of climate change because of its proximity to the Pacific Ring of Fire.
To that end, he has founded Re(source), a carbon offset development company that helps owners of small-scale solar PV installations sell their carbon offsets.
“We all see people who suffer everyday and we know life is hard for a lot of people,” he says. “But if there’s something we can do to make it less hard for as many people as possible, I feel like that’d be useful. And you know, that’s something I’m comfortable trying to accomplish for the whole time, the whole short, little speck of time that I’m around, so yeah, why not?”