Working within nature, this cooperative provides livelihood to over 500 families using common Philippine materials such as abaca, bamboo, buri and coconut.
Preserving the natural environment is deeply rooted in the ethos of this cooperative and they ensure that all of the raw materials are sustainable. They ensure that their suppliers replenish what they use and prevent the exhaustion of materials in one neighbourhood, allowing for re-growth in every community.
About 25 years ago, Ina, the wife of a sugar cane farmer in the Philippines, saw an opportunity to gather the workers wives to make handicrafts as a way of generating extra incomes for their families.
Ina enjoyed making crafts herself and taught the women how to make small things such as mats, coasters, trays and nets out of raw materials. Later they learned to create other products and use different materials.
All products are inspired by the artisans native skills and influenced by their culture and traditions.
The mountains and the sea have paved the way for weaving traditions in the Philippines, as upland farmers had a way of lacing sturdy baskets to hold harvested produce and the fishermen to weave supple nets that can sway with waves without breaking.
These weaving traditions find a place in the ties and knots that binds our handmade baskets and are techniques preserved so the next generation can find wisdom and passion.
Over the years more artisans have joined and today more than 500 families in the local community have become part of the cooperative.
Fair trading is the central purpose of this cooperative and all artisans are paid a fair return for their labour. In the end, a basket is not just another basket, but a way into a better life.
Thanks to Negros Island Handicrafts and their entrepreneurial engagement, the artisans earn much better and their families are nourished well, and with a higher income families can now send their kids to school for a brighter future.