FAQs about R2R
- Where our fabric materials (that we use for our signature weave) are from: Factories & local wholesalers/retailers! We purchase overstock, scrap, or customised cloth from factories and manufacturers. The safety of our artisans and advocates are very important to us so we make sure that our fabric materials are procured from places that don’t expose our artisans (and eventually our advocates) to toxic waste or other harmful substances
- Where are our communities? Our urban community artisans (the ones who weave our signature weave) are from all over Metro Manila, beyond Payatas. Our rural community artisans (who we source some materials from) are also from different parts of the Philippines like Lake Sebu (Mindanao), Ilocos, Kalinga, and other really beautiful places
- Are you registered as a social enterprise? For now, there is no such entity in the Philippines. We are registered as a corporation and our shareholders are our co-founders, social investors, team members, and artisans. As a for-profit corporation, we pay all the usual taxes of regular corporations in the Philippines. We believe that in order to be a great social enterprise, we MUST be a good corporation of the country as well through paying the right taxes and making sure we adhere to the laws and regulations of the Philippines. We called ourselves a “social enterprise” from the beginning because our intention and everything we are building is because we want to help solve a social problem in a sustainable and scalable way. It is a constant reminder to ourselves and our partners that the most important metric for us is social change. We are excited for the day when there will be no need to put “social” before “enterprise”, because it would be the norm (and we believe it is already happening!).
- Do you give proceeds to charity? We love charity and we believe that there is a huge space in the world for pure giving! Our social enterprise supports charitable initiatives not through donations or proceeds but through sustainable trade and market-engagement. For example, we work with non-profits and other foundations who have existing communities on the ground. They provide different services to these communities such as feeding programs, trainings, etc. and we become their livelihood partner. We also believe in the power of proceeds/profits but not as immediate cash (our inclusive supply chain makes sure that income is generated for artisans on a regular basis), but as fuel for more growth. We love R2R as it is now but wouldn’t it be awesome if it becomes bigger and gets to provide more opportunities for more artisans? We think so too!
- Where do you sell your products? We have brick and mortar stores, an online store, and lots of partner stockists! Check out our website for the list. J Oh, and in case you were wondering, majority of our total yearly sales actually come from the Philippines! We are so proud of this because while “exporting” is a great badge of honor, we feel that being loved in our own country is so so special too! Oh, and we also sell to different corporations and partners who want to include us in their supply chain, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and brand story all at the same time.
- Do you accept volunteers? We have welcomed so many wonderful volunteers for the past few years! And yes, we would be glad to welcome more! If you are wondering what kinds of volunteer work, here are some samples: encode data (we know this is kind of simple but data is such an important part of what we do – so encoders don’t just encode, they also learn and interpret with us!), work on building processes and projects as needed, work with the different departments depending on upcoming activities or projects.
- How do you recruit communities/artisans? We work with like-minded and like-hearted non-government organizations, foundations, and the government! These institutions have communities they are supporting for various programs like feeding program, training, health, housing, and welfare. We work with them and become their livelihood partner. The communities we work with are organized by our partner institutions and have their own leaders and ways of working. We provide guidance and tools and we are a few minutes (or hours with traffic) away from these communities, but our on-the-ground partners make this all possible!
- What is your exit strategy in communities? We believe that the most long-term and sustainable solutions are the best solutions. There will be a time when our communities will be independent and that when they decide to, they can operate their own community enterprise (and most of our training modules actually lead to this!). But that does not mean that we disappear and call it a day. The world could use as many inclusive businesses as possible. So today, we are partners of our artisans for training, livelihood, and some organizational support, but in the future, our role could evolve into (one of many, hopefully!) their ”customer”, “partner”, or “investor”. Doing good does not end, it just gets better.
- Are you expanding to other products? Eventually! There are so many things we can do in the future and we are excited! While we are excited, we also see the value in focusing our efforts in making things work well. It is a balancing act. We keep our heads down and work on our current systems, designs, and collections, while frequently looking up and out to learn and innovate. Not a dull moment right?
How do you measure impact? One of our favorite questions (which is probably obvious because the answer is long)! When we started R2R, we spent majority of our time on community engagement and measuring impact. We have refined our process several times for several years and we are still learning! Here are some of our tools and metrics:
- Yearly updates on each community member through our community-based survey forms – the results of these allow us to measure the year-on-year progress of our artisans like how many of their kids have graduated, sources of income, hopes and dreams for the future, housing situation, among others. The information we get from this helps us identify programs that we can create or partners we can tap!
- Number of artisans – home-based, part-time, full-time, store ambassadors, managers – and these are really cool numbers! But because we are working on livelihood, we look at depth of impact more than just scale
- Savings accounts of our artisans opened and maintained – all of our artisans have bank accounts in a country where only 3 out of 10 Filipinos have bank accounts. While for the privacy of our artisans we don’t monitor the balances of their accounts, we facilitate new accounts and know if our artisans are able to maintain their savings accounts. We believe that having savings is a great indicator of positive change. This means that our artisans are no longer living on a hand-to-mouth basis and are able to save for the future. This ability to think mid-term to long-term is an important tool to get out and stay out of poverty
- Insurance accounts opened, active, and maintained – our artisans also have access to micro-insurance programs through our partners! We believe that social safety nets are important to ensure that our artisans have something to fall back on and take-off from when calamities or unforeseen events happen.
- Opportunities opened, provided, and sustained – such as: number and value of job orders to communities, full-time employees from communities, and other projects and programs that our community members were able to participate in!