Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tubigon Loomweavers Multi-purpose Cooperative

With an initial capitalization of only P5,000, the Tubigon Loomweavers Multi-purpose Cooperative has grown to a P1.5 M enterprise after 13 years.

It is now ranked as the second largest producer of raffia loomwovens in Bohol.Weavers, wives of farmers and fisherfolks, who used to practically sit-through days waiting for their husbands are now empowered and earn an average of at least 5,000/month.

Starting with only 30 members who had zero skills, the group in Tubigon, Bohol was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 1989 under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as an association under the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries.

DTI nurtured the group through different interventions including the provision of basic skills and training on weaving strengthened by product development to prepare them to participate in trade fairs, exhibits and other marketing activities.

As members were oriented and trained to do 5S to enhance productivity, workplace organization was improved and the work processes eased. The adoption of work simplification and safety measures and the definition of role functions have minimized internal conflicts.

The group passed the normal sequential pattern of organization development where assisting agency did not push the group to immediately organize into a cooperative. The group saw for themselves the need for the association to graduate into a full fledge cooperative. Soon after, they worked out by themselves the cooperative’s registration.

The original 30 members have now expanded to 100 and at the peak of orders they sometimes resort to sub-contracting the services of some home-based non-coop member weavers in the locality.

Currently, members are working hard to provide clients with unique and original designs of loom-weaved products. They prepare customized designs based on the concept and ideas of their clients. The cooperative also accepts orders of customized products such as bags and other accessories from various clients.

They continuously undergo trainings to come up with new concepts and designs, thus making their products more attractive to buyers.Instead of just weaving looms for placemats and runners, the cooperative now weaves other products like beach and prayer mats, rolls and braids made of raffia using original and unique designs.

Having a regular source of income has enabled cooperative members to acquire properties and share them with the community as they take active part and involve themselves in community activities. The deep well which the members use in raw material preparation is also being used by people in the community for their needs.

Their financial capability has allowed them to become regular sponsors in religious activities such as barrio fiestas and other celebrations.To date, there is a plan to expand the production center.

The cooperative wants to acquire the existing lot where the center is set up and buy another adjacent lot where another production center will be constructed that will house at least 50 improved handlooms.

The cooperative, through the help of the government, also hopes to directly export abroad in addition to selling to exporters and traders in the Philippines.

Loomweaving is a sub-sector within the Gifts and Houseware sector which utilizes raffia fibers extracted from young, unopened buri leaves. Though a home based endeavor, this century-old industry, has graduated into a firm-level production in Bohol.

Loomweaving is labor intensive and is considered a major source of income opportunity. Most firms operating in this particular industry are in the micro, cottage and small levels. Majority of the loomwoven exporters are traders sourcing products from a network of accredited subcontractors.

There are nine (9) municipalities in the province of Bohol that are engaged in this kind of home-based industry. These are the municipalities of Inabanga, Tubigon, Buenavista, Calape, Danao, Albuquerque, Valencia, Corella and Panglao. However, the municipality of Inabanga, where majority of loomweavers are produced, serve as anchor municipality for the industry.

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