3 min. reading

“I felt really proud to contribute to this work”: Online Training Guides Two Philippine Partners Toward Success

Dave Smith, CESO Advisor

Early in 2021, I undertook two virtual volunteer assignments in the Philippines. One was with Sta. Praxedes Sarakat Weavers Association, and the other was with Women’s Unity for Progress and Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative (WUPFMPC). I provided training remotely to help CESO’s partners define business needs, identify problems that hinder growth, evaluate operations and the financial status of projects, look into business areas and partnerships, and recommend solutions.

Located on the northern coastline of the island of Luzon, Sta. Praxedes Sarakat Weavers Association is becoming a reputable business in the community. The organization produces mats, market bags and hats made from pandan leaves. These products are constructed “Ilocano-style,” which is a weaving method learned from the local Ilocano culture. Earnings from the eco-friendly, hand-woven products are an important source of income for the women in the association.

WUPFMPC is located in Mapandan, a landlocked, hilly agricultural town located five hours north of Manila. The area produces rice, corn, fruits and vegetables. WUPFMPC assists farmers, particularly women farmers, by providing access to financial loans, leasing farming equipment and lobbying for government assistance. The members are currently producing pickled papaya, an emerging signature product in the Philippines.

These organizations are all about improving the lives of women who have the power to ignite positive change and better opportunities for families and communities.

Dave Smith, CESO Advisor

For both organizations, the online training sessions I conducted had numerous attendees, including several organizational members, representatives from the Department of Industry and Trade (DTI) and Erwin Altamarino, CESO’s Project Officer in the Philippines.

Each session included an intensive SWOT analysis on business development areas and product supply chains to establish each organization’s needs. Over 50 recommendations were made regarding equipment and technology, product storage and distribution, marketing and branding, gender sensitivity, partnerships, training and education, organizational efficiency, and customer service.

After our assignment had come to an end, both partners had identified actions and priorities for their organization and had tools for monitoring and evaluating their progress. I was pleased to have helped the two partners develop a roadmap for improvement.

These organizations are all about improving the lives of women who have the power to ignite positive change and better opportunities for families and communities. I felt really proud to contribute to this work.

Despite having to conduct these sessions online because of COVID-19, there was great participation and chemistry with the partners. The training was still well received and effective.

It was a wise move for CESO to pursue virtual assignments because Advisors have been able to continue aiding partners who need help, especially during the pandemic. My only regret is that I did not get to see and touch those high-quality weaving products or taste the pickled papaya!