Saffy stands for Social Action for Filipino Youth. It is the original organisation name and current trade name for export items of SAFRUDI - a non-profit social development organisation founded by Belgian nun, Sr. Juliaan Maira Mullie, in the late 1960s. SAFRUDI (Social Action Foundation for Rural and Urban Development Inc.) aims to bring empowerment to small entrepreneurs and artisans. From its humble beginnings as a workshop that provided an alternative livelihood for the out-of-school youth in marginalised areas of Manila through sewing projects, it now assists some 50 small producers of various handicrafts from all over the Philippines. Saffy Handicrafts serves as a central agency for training, handicraft employment, and guidance in effective community services.
Saffy aims to enhance the artistic and business skills of Filipino craft artisans. It encourages producers to develop collections for exposition in international trade fairs, and has carved for them a regular market in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific. Aside from acting as a marketing arm, SAFFY runs its own In-house Production specialising in items made with Capiz shells and Coco-fibre. The philosophy of Saffy is that of being aware that local resources, both human and national, can be tapped if they are properly organised. Saffy is offering its services to the people in depressed urban and remote rural areas so they can pursue their goals in life.
With social marketing, Saffy creates opportunities for its producer-partners, pays fair prices, promotes environment-friendly technology, safe working conditions and gender equity in the workplace, regulates child labour practices and participates in activities advocating Fair Trade. Through Fair Trade, Saffy contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions, securing the livelihoods of marginalised producers, raising their awareness, and campaigning for changes in the rules and practices of conventional trade.
Saffy’s vision is human development oriented towards justice, self-reliance and freedom. Saffy assists in integrated programs, services and activities according to the needs of each area: community organising, community-based health/nutrition programs, sustainable agriculture, and socioeconomic projects such as production and marketing of goods for export, establishing integrated programs, in-service training, and handling distribution and marketing of products for small cooperatives and associations.
In 1987 Zeny Austria was widowed, with four children under 12 years old, no income, and a dream – a better education for her children. That year, while attending a seminar on health conducted in her community, she joined SAFFY, learning embroidery at first, and in 1990 began working with capiz. This handcraft income meant Zeny could keep her children at school, and SAFFY helped Zeny over the next few years by providing extra financial assistance to cope with school fees. The urban poor in Manila have little opportunity for realising even modest dreams – working with SAFFY has helped Zeny, and hundreds of other craftspeople, to achieve some of theirs.