Social enterprises find new spaces to thrive

Likha Initiative in Ayala Malls Circuit

The current pandemic has provided lots of opportunities for many to further pursue personal hobbies or try new ones, as well as opportunities to help address existing issues in society.

For Michael Santos and Michael Byron Quevada, the pandemic helped them find the time and resources to pursue their passion for plants and home decorating. However, they also saw that while they were fortunate to have the privilege to start their business, many other Filipinos are left struggling under the current crisis.

Fusing their passion in gardening and decorating with their desire to support a community, the two founded HandKraft PH. The business has employed 43 weavers who produce baskets made of buri and abaca to be used as planters and organizers in homes.

The small business has been able to provide many benefits to the local community, including the revival of the basket weaving tradition, transferring of skills across generations, enriching local heritage and culture, and the promotion of accountability and self-worth.

Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) is empowering such businesses, giving them the opportunity to help more people in return and creating a domino effect of compassion and cooperation across the country.

The program’s main focus is to provide livelihood opportunities to social enterprises by, among other initiatives, providing these enterprises their spaces in ALI developments nationwide wherein they can grow their businesses.

Through its Alagang AyalaLand program, ALI is working to assist the most vulnerable sectors of Philippine society, especially those that show potential to create further social good. The program’s main focus is to provide livelihood opportunities to social enterprises by, among other initiatives, providing these enterprises their spaces in ALI developments nationwide wherein they can grow their businesses.

HandKraft PH in Glorietta

“We keep telling our customers about how the Alagang AyalaLand program has provided us with the platform to share our heritage as we help a small community. Our weavers became more hard working and excited since they know that their works will be made available not only in typical ‘bazaars or tiangges‘, but in an Ayala Mall such as Glorietta in Makati,” Santos and Quevada of HandKraft PH said.

Fostering the spirit of bayanihan

Most of the pandemic’s effects have been concentrated on the vulnerable sectors of society as it amplifies previous inequalities to new heights. In fact, according to research by the World Bank in the middle of 2020, 26% of businesses were non-operational globally.

In the Philippines, 44% of MSMEs are fully operating, based on Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) records as of last June, while 46% are partially operating and 10% have closed.

A concrete example of the crisis’s impact is the tons of harvests from Filipino farmers that hardly reached their intended markets as a result of the pandemic’s effects on the country’s supply chain.

In response, Ace and Andie Estrada founded Rural Rising Philippines, a social enterprise dedicated to harnessing the potential of the countryside and fostering rural prosperity through agri-entrepreneurship. Rural Rising PH has formed initiatives nationwide to help local farmers who are struggling to sell their produce during the lockdown, ensuring that customers who buy through Rural Rising PH are in effect directly buying the produce of distressed farmers.

The group regularly holds “rescue buys,” where they purchase surplus vegetables from rural farmers — which would otherwise go to waste — and sell them bulk to 17,000 Rural Rising members and retail consumers in Metro Manila. They also have regular “snap buys” of rare or in-season local products, like chocolate rice, satsuma oranges, and dragon fruit. Nothing goes to waste as vegetables that are not sold within 48 hours are donated to community pantries and feeding programs.

Through Alagang AyalaLand, ALI is allocating rent-free space in its malls and estates for enterprises like Rural Rising PH to jumpstart their growth, in turn fueling local consumption and helping to accelerate the country’s recovery.

Alagang AyalaLand is ensuring that those enterprises most affected by the pandemic are given enough support to continue with their goals and create more social good in return.

Also, under Alagang AyalaLand, Likha Initiative, a volunteer-led initiative that advocates a zero-waste community, is able to conducting workshops and mentorship programs, establishing connections with potential partners, and forming groups that work towards a zero-waste lifestyle.

With the ongoing pandemic, Likha Initiative’s focus shifted from waste management to helping residents create local products that are aligned to the group’s environment protection ethos. This allows the community to make eco-friendly crafts such as recycled backpacks, alcohol purses, coin purses, scrunchies, hair clips, straw bags, painted pots, bucket hats, monokinis, and many more.

“We have been blessed to partner with Ayala Malls as this creates an opportunity for the mothers in urban poor areas to have additional income, and to ease the unemployment and financial constraints faced by the families. It also became an avenue for empowerment for the mothers who have found their spaces for creation and income generation,” Founder Debbie Bartolo said.

The true spirit of ‘bayanihan‘ is kept alive as the company ensures that its stakeholders are all supported during this trying time.

Alagang AyalaLand is ALI’s community engagement program which focuses on generating livelihood and jobs through social enterprises; providing relief to communities during calamities, and promoting a sustainable environment.

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