Filipinas Fair Trade Ventures
Filipinas Fair Trade Ventures (FFTV) started in 2002 as the marketing arm of Advocate of Philippines Fair Trade Inc., or APTI, a nongovernmental development organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty by providing training and technical assistance to micro-enterprises. FFTV helps a variety of Filipino artisan groups to design, transport and export their handicrafts by gaining market access for these community-based enterprises in the Philippines and to help sustain these communities until they reach their full potential. As they describe themselves, "We are a young and dynamic organisation made up of committed and competent people who have come together in revitalising the craft industry in the Philippines." Filipinas organises artisans according to a variety of products, including tableware, linens, handmade paper, jewellery, accessories and small furniture. Some 900 artisans are organised within 90 workshops. Many work from home. One such group working with FFTV is Apid Women Livelihood Association, a group of pandan weavers producing cushion covers. The group is from Apid Island, a small island where commercial fishing, pollution and erosion had seriously threatened its fish, coral reef and other aquatic resources. Pandan grows abundantly on the island, so islanders understood that more weaving and less fishing would help rehabilitate and eventually sustain Apid's marine and coastal environment. Once a traditional home craft, pandan weaving quickly developed into an enterprise that offered around 50 members of the Apid Women Livelihood Association an alternative to fishing. The women weavers can work from the comfort of their homes, while keeping an eye on children, family and domestic concerns. A supervisor checks on weavers' progress periodically and collects the finished woven products that are transported aboard motorised bancas to the mainland, about 45 minutes away. Anastacia Pagalan is one of the Apid Island weavers. She weaves to support her family, while her husband cooks. Anastacia says, "Weaving helps me take care of my family's needs. Weaving helps the association. Weaving helps the sea."