SM Cares and Australian Embassy Partnered to Launch “Women Entrepreneurs: Building Stronger Communities” Trade Fair

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In today’s society, every woman has the right to choose whatever she wants to be. Far cry from before, where women were only considered as commodity to men. I believe that women play a vital role in everyone’s life. A woman can be a mother who plays multiple roles in the household. Usually, mothers are responsible for raising their children and doing household chores. But in the recent years, mothers can take more diversified roles, such as working and at the same time looking after the house and their children. But the most important thing, women are responsible for the continuation of life. I can’t hardly imagine a world without women.

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In honor of women’s achievements and contributions to society, SM Cares and Australian Embassy have partnered to celebrate International Women’s Day and the National Women’s Month by launching the “Women Entrepreneurs: Building Stronger Communities” Trade Fair. It was a 3-day event held from March 7 to March 10 at SM Aura.

There were 11 women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that participated in the exhibit funded by the Australian Embassy through Direct Aid Program. The event showcased region’s best-known products made by women around the Philippines.

At the very entrance, you could see this large signage welcoming you!

SM Cares and Australian Embassy

Women Entrepreneurs: Building Stronger Communities List of Exhibitors:

Antique Development Foundation (ADF): HELPING HAND FOR ARTISANS OF ANTIQUE
The Antique Development Foundation, with funding from Australia, is supporting 547 handicraft makers and 168 brew makers in Antique to improve their production to commercial standards. The women micro-entrepreneurs are turning the beautiful tradition of hand-loom weaving to stable income for their family and the community.
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SM Cares and Australian Embassy Partnered to Launch Women Entrepreneurs Building Stronger Communities Trade Fair 6
Caritas Manila: BUILDING A BRAND FOR SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Australia’s aid investment in 2011 helped start the Caritas Margins Sewing Project to provide employment to women from Tondo, Manila. Under this project, women turn used tetra packs and tarpaulins banners into consumer products such as bags and household accessories. With the success of the sewing project, Caritas Margins expanded to food processing.
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Gifts and Graces (G&G) Fair Trade Foundation Incorporated: MADE BY HAND, MADE BY HEART

A fair trade social enterprise with a vision of providing livelihood opportunities for marginalized communities including woman. The women supported by G&G create with their hands and heart toys and paper goods, fashion accessories, as well as food products.

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Green Earth Heritage Foundation Philippines: SEEDS OF HOPE
Green Earth Heritage Foundation set up a commercial fan and a reforestation site in the historic town of San Miguel, Bulacan. The foundation worked with the community to turn to embrace sustainable organic agricultural development. The foundation’s primary product is Fair Trade Moringa tea. The tea processing center in San Miguel is wholly operated by women and employs 139 farmers.
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Handicraft of Aklan Multi-Purpose Cooperative (HAMPCO): INVESTING IN WOMEN ARTISANS IN AKLAN

Australia invested in the women-led cooperative in 2002 to upgrade weaving equipment and improve the skills of women weavers. Over the next years, the investment has yielded increased incomes for women and allowed them to be better provided for their children’s education and food needs. Today HAMPCO provides regular employment to 85 women weavers.
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SM Cares and Australian Embassy Partnered to Launch Women Entrepreneurs Building Stronger Communities Trade Fair 16

Katungod han Samarena Foundation Incorporated (KSFi): WEAVING DREAMS IN SAMAR
Through the assistance from the Australian Government, ninety-nine women micro-entrepreneurs from Samar are helping their communities rise up from the devastation of Yolanda. They are working together to produce beautiful colorful mats, bags, hats and slippers, which they are now selling to new markets.
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Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association Incorporated (LASIWWAI): DREAMWEAVERS OF SOUTH COTABATO
The indigenous women leaders of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato have formed a cooperative to preserve the tradition of t’nalak weave dyeing, empower T’boli women, and strengthen their communities. Australia invested in the women’s cooperative to increase production, support the growth of the social enterprise, and to improve the income potential of the members.

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Philippine Christian Foundation (PCF): FROM RUBBISH TO RUNWAY
PCF runs a school for children who live in Smokey Mountain dump in Tondo, Baguio dump site and from a squatter area in Navotas cemetery. It started as livelihood project for mothers using up cycled materials. Australia’s direct aid investment provided skills training for 1,000 women living in shanty towns in Tondo, Manila, Navotas and Baguio. The women gained more than just income they regained their dignity and hope for a better life.
SM Cares and Australian Embassy Partnered to Launch Women Entrepreneurs Building Stronger Communities Trade Fair 3

Philippine Foundation for Resources Management (PFRM): WEAVING HERITAGE AND EMPOWERMENT
Beginning in 2007, Australia invested in the women of Dayawan, Marawi City to preserve the centuries-old tradition of Maranao hand loom weaving. But in order for this cultural heritage to also provide economic benefits for the women weavers and their families. Australia’s support not only preserved Maranao culture and revitalized the craft of hand loom weaving, but also provided women from Dayawan with a a steady source of income.
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Simbag sa Pag-Asenso Incorporated (SEDP): BUILDING A BANIG REPUBLIC IN BICOL

In 2012, the Australian Embassy’s Direct Aid Program (DAP) invested in SEDP to conduct extensive repairs and fund the expansion of the existing mat weaving workshop facility in Cagraray Island. Australia’s support helped improve product design and introduced a number of innovations into the traditional model of a banig mat, such as attaching an attractive and comfortable cushioned layer. These innovations, coupled with targeted marketing activities, greatly increased market demand for the banig. Also, Australia’s assistance has allowed the women supported by SEDP to diversify their product range and venture into the food processing industry.
SM Cares and Australian Embassy Partnered to Launch Women Entrepreneurs Building Stronger Communities Trade Fair 1

Southern Partners and Fair Trade Center Incorporated (SPFTCI): FROM FARMERS TO FAIR TRADE-PRENEURS
The Australian Government supported the fair trade social enterprise and invested in training coconut and mango farmers in Compostela and Minglanilla, Cebu. Australia’s funding helped women upgrade their skills, improve the quality of products and build fair trade villages where fruit products are processed to high value food export items like extra virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, dried fruits, jams, purees, and fruit juices. Even coconut husks were turned to charcoal, a more environmental fuel alternative to traditional kingpin method.
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While visiting the booths, I learned a lot about the history of each organization and how they make their products. These entrepreneurs were very courteous, accommodating and friendly.

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I’m very much impressed with the products which the Filipino women showcased! Each booth exhibited marvelous products such as bags, dress, wallets, accessories, etc.  According to them, these products were made using traditional methods and carefully selected materials produced in their respective regions. I must admit that they have inspired me to strive harder and believe in my capability as a woman.

To further show my support to my fellow women, I bought this beautiful bag from Antique Development Foundation. It’s nicely made and has good interiors, perfect for my summer getaways.

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Prior to this event, I’m not really aware about this Aid program by Australia. But I’m glad that this kind of program exists. Not only it provides employment opportunities for Filipino women but also it helped preserve old traditions.

I’m really hoping for more trade fairs this year to provide more opportunities  to country’s micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)  and also to expose more their products in the local market and if fortunate, advance toward the global market.

Indeed, it’s great to see the overflowing talents of Filipino women around the country. Without a doubt, these women are world class. I have never been so proud to be a Filipino woman. I’m encouraging everyone to keep supporting women’s economic empowerment and to promote greater gender equality.

 

For more information:
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