By Hans Doringo
In the midst of growing unemployment due to ongoing economic and health crisis, the Celo community, in cooperation with ImpactMarket, a crowd-funding built on Celo blockchain, has partnered with a local weaving cooperative, to pilot an anti-poverty program aiding displaced Inabel textile weavers in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
The anti-poverty program of Celo aims to provide financial assistance to weavers of Nagbacalan Loom Weaving Cooperative and open new local and international markets for the weaving industry, to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the community.
The Nagbacalan Loom Weaver Cooperative is an association established in 1992 to organize the remaining traditional weavers of the region and strengthen the Inabel textile industry, which is indigenous to the Ilocos Region. In March 2020, during the implementation of hard lockdowns in the country, the industry experienced a downturn, resulting in the closure of several weaving shops and subsequently, the abandonment of the craft.
With the use of technology, selected members of the Cooperative are receiving an unconditional weekly income of 10 cUSD (Cello dollars) or Php 490 to 500 for seven consecutive months, through Valora mobile wallet app installed on their phones.
The ImpactMarket financial assistance gave the weavers, who were earning $3–4 US a day before the pandemic, the opportunity to have a fresh start. Most of them used the money to pay their debts and build their own start-up businesses.
Among the few recipients of the assistance is Glenda Tapec, a 40-year-old weaver who used some of the money she received as start-up capital for her hotdog and barbecue stand. Meanwhile, Fering Cabugon, a 67-year old weaver, used the money to buy materials that she needs in her return to weaving, after months of not practicing the craft.
Aside from the financial program, Celo is also helping the weaving community to sell and export their high-quality products by introducing the Valora mobile wallet as a payment platform through which they could accept orders from abroad.
“While their products are of high export quality, the weavers did not have direct access to international markets or the knowledge to penetrate them.”
According to Celo, with the help of Valora app, the weavers were introduced to new international markets, giving them the chance to earn more even in the middle of the pandemic.
In July 2021, the Cooperative published a report about the success of exporting its products to Celo communities in Germany, France, and the United States. As stated in the report, the weavers generated an export income amounting to $955, which they initially received in cUSD deposited in their Valora wallet.
Meanwhile, the introduction of new markets to the industry pushed the weavers to explore another decentralized application (dapp) built on Celo, Paychant. With PayChant, weavers are creating shops that would increase their visibility in the market and eventually, help them become independent.
Celo states that these forms of initiatives done by the community aim not only to help small business communities to thrive but also to “inspire developers around the world in helping the Celo ecosystem grow by building decentralized applications for artisans and entrepreneurs on the Celo blockchain.”
This article is published on BitPinas: Celo Offers Aid to Local Weavers Affected by the Pandemic in Ilocos Norte