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‘Coffee for Peace’ enables Filipinos to build peace with coffee


Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on fairer trade pricing.

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Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

What if every Filipino, no matter where they’re based in the country, can be a “force for good” simply by sticking to routine—like, say, enjoying their morning cup of coffee?

Davao-based Coffee for Peace (CFP) proves this can be the case as its CEO and co-founder Felicitas “Joji” B. Pantoja confirms that they are a growing community of farmers and business owners practicing and advocating inclusive development principles in the coffee industry. Social entrepreneurship is their business approach to achieve justice and harmony in society and environment.

“As a reputable processor for good beans and an experienced roastery, CFP means business continuity for business owners but equally: support for farming communities. CFP even gives buyers the option to create their own brand under a MOA where 10% of very kilo sold goes back to farmers,” says J. Pantoja. 

Where does the customer from Luzon or Visayas ordering through the online shop fit into the peace building in Mindanao? “CFP by design allocates 25% of its net profit for its Peace and Reconciliation Teams, composed of volunteers from conflict-affected areas and international volunteers. They are trained in inter-faith dialogue, cross-cultural comms, trauma healing, relief and medical operations,” says J. Pantoja.

Because at the heart of CFP’s operations is training farmers on coffee processing to develop skills to produce high-quality coffee beans.​ CFP provides knowledge on the market for farmers to understand what consumers want in coffee, and the value of what they do for awareness on  fairer trade pricing. “We want farmers to be confident about the business side of farming, understand their market, correctly price and inspire the next generation to be farmpreneurs too,” says J. Pantoja.

Once the training is complete, CFP offers to partner communities post-harvest services at cost such as: coffee pulping, coffee dehulling, and coffee drying. Coffee for Peace also offers to partner-farmers and those who buy from them shared services such as: toll roasting, packaging, label design, and photography. The training result is a higher quality coffee product produced by a community in the Philippines.

Nurturing grassroots ‘farmerpreneurs’

At the Philippine Coffee Quality Competition, the top five awards went to Specialty Arabica coffee farmers from Davao del Sur. For jury member Byron Pantoja, CFP VP for operations, this indicates “farmers taking ownership of their craft as producers of some of the best coffee in the Philippines. We need to give more farmers the freedom, knowledge, and opportunity to innovate their coffee processes based on the demands of the market and the limitations of their land. That sense of ownership over what they do is what’s going to make them the best.”

Nurturing community ‘farmerpreneurs’ and realizing the country’s potential for premium to specialty coffee go hand in hand. J. Pantoja says, “Only 25% of the country’s 111M population is served by Filipino coffee farmers. Local cafes are challenged in sourcing good beans. We partner with DTI on bridging gaps such as training, equipment and drying space but getting to a scale that boosts our national reputation as a good coffee producer will take time. From 2,000 kilos at start, we are now at 32,000 kilos and encouraged to continue.”

Coffee for Peace has trained close to 880 farming families from different parts of our country, representing 13 tribes, including some Muslim areas. “Our model is to create our own competitors by giving them the secrets to making good coffee. We want to groom ‘farmerpreneurs’ who are also skilled in coffee tasting, financial management and conflict resolution. We want barista interns to dream of having their own coffee kiosks. For every kilo of coffee, one can make 140 cups of 6 ounces, and a barista in Davao nets 5K a day with his own coffee cart. The same can be done anywhere in the Philippines. Imagine if every region’s farmers had their own pop-up café or coffee cart, neighborhoods will also be educated to buy local,” says J. Pantoja.

“Premium specialty coffee from the Philippines” requires a mindset change that’s supported by the fact that local coffee has scored 80% special quality standard, points out Pantoja. A member of the National Coffee Council, she spoke about the need to streamline various resources from government policy and services and link these to smallholder farmers. “We want every island to join the national movement within the coffee industry to raise the level of coffee quality. Grassroots farmers also mean less carbon footprint for supplying the coffee locals want. We’ve gone to uplands to help a micro-lot owner assess the possibility of coffee farming. We’ve also linked roasters, who used to order coffee from us, straight to the farming community.”

Photo by Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash.com

Coffee and PH culture

Coffee is innate in the Filipino culture. “When we visit high-conflict communities, coffee served from a palayok is good quality. When I brought a sample to Canada where I used to live, the roasters said there was potential for premium quality to specialty. But we can only produce limited quantities. Opening opportunities for our farmers drove me to collaborate—inspire baristas to educate customers, get roasters to work with traders who source from farmer,” said J. Pantoja.

Operating for 13 years now, Coffee of Peace started with peacebuilding work. “Coffee is the vehicle but the ‘product’ is peace. In our peacebuilding work in Maguindanao, Basilan, and Sulu, we saw that coffee makes Moslem and Christians sit together and dialogue to settle conflict. In our environmental work, we saw that Arabica trees are included in our national greening program. Giving life back to forests also give locals a new, sustainable means of livelihood. I tell farmers: ‘You don’t have to go to the city, the buyers will come to see protected forest.’ We also advise farmers to get to know their customers, then the process follows,” said J. Pantoja.

As a case, Korean buyers came to Davao looking for fine Robusta. Local farmers have since expanded to Robusta. Explains B. Pantoja, “While specialty Arabica has fruity flavors like blueberries and strawberry, fine Robusta has a super smooth, full-bodied chocolatey taste like black tea.”

This distinction in tastes can be a strength of the Philippines as a group of islands since, explains J. Pantoja, we can’t compete with the land mass and harvest volumes of Vietnam, Brazil or Colombia, and we can’t produce for large coffee chains. “Instead, our edge is premium specialty coffee, with micro-lot orders of 1 to 2 tons that are of a quality and fetch a good price. Each island can produce a different taste profile depending on soil and fauna of that area. Arabica alone has 3,500 subvarieties, while Robusta has 2,400 subvarieties. The higher, the elevation, the sweeter the coffee.” The growing community of coffee champions and curiosity of millennials can only drive excitement over developing Philippine variants that are also ‘Just’ coffee of the social-justice kind.

For more information, visit www.coffeeforpeace.com and peacebuilderscommunity.org. Follow Coffee for Peace at www.facebook.com/coffeeforpeace.

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5 Ways WeClean is changing the laundry industry

Fully integrated laundry service provider WeClean has doubled down on its business expansion strategy over the past two years. The company is on track in its plans to become one of the top-of-mind laundromat brands in the country.

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Laundromats in the Philippines have continued to thrive over the years as Filipinos have been given the option to make laundry less of a burden with the continuous innovations in the industry. More Filipinos are outsourcing their chores to buy themselves more time for the things that matter: time for friends, family, hobbies, side hustles, and selfcare. Since the huge growth they have experienced in the last year, WeClean has managed to process more than 1,200 daily orders across all of their branches.

Fully integrated laundry service provider WeClean has doubled down on its business expansion strategy over the past two years. The company is on track in its plans to become one of the top-of-mind laundromat brands in the country.

WeClean Head of Strategy Alejandro Gonzalez Sacramento, from his bird’s eye view, shares five ways the company is helping change and drive the local laundry industry.

  • Quality Laundry Services through Top of the Line Equipment

WeClean is not your ordinary laundry shop. All their shops are decked with top notch washing machines, detergents, and fabric softeners that are able to produce the freshest, cleanest, most fragrant laundry for its customers consistently, and efficiently. WeClean also offers dry cleaning services that have been considered a top choice for many of their customers. They are likewise able to provide quick pickup and delivery services customers continue to recognize.

This has motivated WeClean to beef up operations and install digital point-of-sale machines to better manage inventory and supplies, including an upcoming and soon-to-be launched mobile app that can help more customers with their laundry needs.

  • Standardization of Laundry Services

With over 63 branches across the metro, WeClean standardizes its offering of free pick-up and delivery services for their customers’ laundry needs. Have clothes, linen, towels, or household items (rags, tablecloth, runners, flags/banners, and placemats) picked up, washed, and delivered right to your doorstep within 24 to 48 hours. They also offer pickup and delivery within the same day for regular clothes and household items.

WeClean’s brand is a guarantee that no matter which branch customers reach out to, they will be taken care of by properly trained employees and high quality equipment.

Busy professionals with erratic schedules and heavy workloads, students with piling deadlines, and housewives and entrepreneurs too busy to deal with laundry can save time and stay safe within the comforts of their homes with WeClean.  From washing, drying, folding to steam and dry cleaning, WeClean is ready to take on whatever their customers need.

  • Two-Fold Expansion Strategy

For the company to reach its target goal of opening and operating 500 successful branches by 2025, they are implementing a two-fold expansion strategy. First is in identifying strategically located existing brick and mortar businesses whose owners are looking for a change.

WeClean then evaluates, closes the deal, and purchases small players and turns them into WeClean branches that are operated under the company. The other approach the executives implement is looking for strategic lots, spaces, and locations where they know that there is a demand for their laundromat services. They spot residential areas with high traffic and within distance from high-rise condominiums where people cannot afford to have washing machines at home.

These two expansion strategies have helped them be on track at opening one store after another since its launch in 2017. 

  • Job Security

With its aggressive expansion and business plan intact, WeClean executives have made it their priority to provide stable jobs in all their branches across the metro.

They have already started implementing standardization of their internal processes including payrolls, cash collection reporting, task distribution, among others. To date, WeClean supports 135 employees across 63 of their branches in the country.

  • Client-centric Feedback

WeClean prides itself not just on its capabilities to run seamless laundry services across its branches in the country but also in the company’s ability to listen to customers’ feedback.

“We make it a priority to listen to what our customers need, what is important for them, and what they would like to see at WeClean so we can make their overall experience a memorable one,” shares Sacramento.

WeClean’s exponential growth is a reflection of its consistent and trustworthy services that become a dependable life partner for all its customers. As WeClean continuously grows, they are also making sure that the people they help receive quality service with their keen attention to detail and commitment to improving their operations.

To learn more about WeClean Philippines, visit weclean.ph.com or their Facebook  page for updates and announcements.

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WeClean creates more job opportunities for local communities

Company is here to stay long-term, aims to hire over 1,200 employees by 2025.

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Creating job opportunities while providing quality laundry services is what fully integrated laundry service provider WeClean has always committed to since its establishment in 2017.

“We’ve always set out to help not only consumers but also provide the necessary employment to Filipinos within the local community. Our aim by 2025 is to have 500 operating and successful branches across the Philippines and in nearby Southeast Asian countries that will help us hire and offer jobs to roughly over 1,200 employees,” shares Alejandro Gonzalez Sacramento, WeClean Head of Operations.

To date, WeClean has opened and is operating over 64 branches in the metro with 130 employees ensuring that quality laundry services are offered to their growing customer base. “We are hiring aggressively right now as we continue opening branches and extending our operating hours from 6am to 10pm and we are already open 24 hours in our branch in Ocampo. We are eyeing to be able to hire more people in the next few months so that we are able to open another four to six branches,” Gonzalez mentions.

The company is also targeting to acquire more laundry shops to bring the total number of operating branches to 100 before the year ends, so it is vital for WeClean to find the right people and hire more branch personnel.

Hiring Process

WeClean believes in the adage where happy workers bring satisfied customers. They offer competitive wages and ensure all mandatory benefits set by the government are implemented and strictly followed to ensure that their staff and employees are happy and proud of working at WeClean. “We make sure our employees are happy and receive not only their basic pay but also on holidays and overtime. They are also given SSS, PAG-IBIG, and PhilHealth benefits,” shares Gonzalez.

In the last two weeks, WeClean has recently hired 15 more attendants, placing their current count of employees to 145. They have job postings on social media and are likewise working with some HR agencies to ensure they get the right personnel for their branches.

They hire both undergraduates and college graduates with experience working in the laundry business or service industry. WeClean is also on the lookout for customer-oriented individuals who can not only greatly appeal and deal with customers on a daily basis but also tech-savvy individuals who are able to learn new things as the company is digitizing their branches with POS machines.

“We are very much open in considering employees for our various roles across our 64 branches in the country. We train our personnel with our equipment, our services, and in running the businesses as well,” highlights Gonzalez.

Strengthening Accessibility

In its aim to further digitize and make laundry services more accessible to those in the metro, WeClean finalized its partnership with Grab and is the first laundry business to be available in the Grab app.

“We continue to innovate and ensure that we are where our customers are – online. We are hoping to help more Filipinos in their laundry chores so they can focus on what is more important to them like spending time with the family,” muses Gonzalez.

The WeClean app is also in its final stages before it is publicly made available in the country. To learn more about WeClean Philippines, visit weclean.ph.com or their Facebook  page for updates and announcements.

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‘Woven’ social enterprise empowers artisan communities high-quality handicrafts made by Filipino craftswomen

Inspired by the beautiful weaving tradition of Samar, the founders of Woven are driven to bring the exceptional craftsmanship of Filipinos to the rest of the world. Woven Co-Founder and CEO, Trish Lim, shares the company’s journey in helping Filipina artisans thrive.

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In this fast-moving digital age, consumers around the world still desire the timeless aesthetic of handcrafted pieces. Recognizing this demand, Woven, a social enterprise that empowers artisan communities to build a livelihood from weaving and embroidery, curates a wide array of high-quality handicrafts made by Filipino craftswomen.

Inspired by the beautiful weaving tradition of Samar, the founders of Woven are driven to bring the exceptional craftsmanship of Filipinos to the rest of the world. Woven Co-Founder and CEO, Trish Lim, shares the company’s journey in helping Filipina artisans thrive.

Weaving the story of Woven

Woven was launched in 2017. The idea took shape when Lim and her husband were conducting a development study for a foundation after typhoon Haiyan struck Leyte and Samar in 2013. The couple realized the hardships of the marginalized communities in these provinces and decided to help them rise from the tragedy by starting an enterprise.

In the course of the interviews, they discovered the banig or mat weavers of Samar, and the idea of partnering with the community’s weavers was born. Lim started sending design suggestions to her husband who was helping the communities form associations so they could earn more from their craft. 

Initially, the enterprise was named “Basey” after the town but later changed to “Woven” in order to connect with different weaving groups in the country. “We design our products together with the artisans. Our idea was to link them to a greater market, and provide more opportunities for their livelihood,” said Lim.

Crafting Opportunities

Woven’s products are carefully handcrafted by women weavers of Samar aged 50 to 55 years old. As the majority of the weavers are female, Lim shared that Woven aims to uplift the lives of female weavers and artisans. Through empathy, compassion, and persistence, Lim guides the weavers and encourages them to be open to growth so they can thrive in this industry or in any industry of their choice.

As the couple worked with the weavers, Lim discovered that they have discouraged their children to continue the craft due to its low income with the average artisan only earning as much as P600-650 per month (US$ 11-12). In order to help them, Lim decided to expand Woven’s reach and include other communities outside Samar.

“We learned that a lot of artisans were in the same situation so we connected with them and included their products as well. Now, not only does Woven have banig products from Samar but we also offer handwoven textiles from Benguet, placemats from Basilan, and blankets by hablon weavers from Iloilo,” shared Lim.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

As an advocate, Lim knows the importance of raising awareness of the centuries-old tradition of weaving among the youth. So, they launched “Kabataan Krafts” in 2019 that focused on fostering creativity, collaboration, and leadership among the children of the artisans.

To promote and raise awareness of the weaving industry to youth in other areas, they also launched “Woven on the Move” bringing the weavers from their home province to Manila to conduct a series of workshops for senior high school students in various schools.

Woven From the Home to the World

During the lockdown, Woven was impacted by the sharp decline in tourism and mobility restrictions which affected the procurement of supplies. Bulk orders from companies, a major source of their income, were also significantly reduced. To keep the enterprise going, Lim continued selling their products online through their website and social media accounts. They also expanded Woven’s market base and tapped other countries to promote their products.

Woven’s products also evolved to keep up with the trends of modern fashion, especially among the youth. New products were introduced such as laptop sleeves, bags, and work-from-home essentials to cater to a younger age group and support their modern, mobile lifestyle.

With FedEx as her logistics provider, Lim was also able to easily reach markets in South Korea, Taiwan, the United States, and Europe. In 2021, Lim ran a global marketing campaign where they collaborated with different artists to come up with their own woven creations. Through FedEx, her team was able to efficiently send Banig weaving kits to her customers in New York and Canada.

“We realized that going global entails strong logistics support to ensure that our products will be shipped on time and in good condition. And being able to tell our clients that we can ship products through FedEx is liberating. We’ve had a good experience with FedEx so far as we’ve gotten a lot of support from the team and experienced a boost in our sales,” continued Lim.

Weaving Woven’s Purpose

Woven continues to launch various initiatives aimed at fostering creativity, collaboration, and leadership among the next generation of Banig weavers and embroiderers in the community. New products have been created and introduced to reach diverse segments of the market. Through their products, Woven hopes to increase awareness and appreciation of the centuries-old tradition of weaving in the Philippines and encourage them to become advocates of these artisan communities.

By continuously tapping the international market for these products, Woven empowers Filipina artisans and handicraft communities to continue their colorful weaving tradition while ensuring sustainable livelihood.

Find out more about Woven Philippines’ products at woven.ph. To know more about inspiring small business stories, visit FedEx Business Insights.

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