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Exploring the Philippines with Chris van Bergen, Nest COO

This guest post from the field is shared by Nest COO, Chris van Bergen 

It was wonderful to be back in the Philippines, where I worked to train a new partner business on ways to adopt ethical compliance policies and processes within its artisan supply chain. This business has been providing economic opportunity to the basket weaving community for more than 20 years, giving work to more than 800 weavers spread out across a roughly 3-hour radius of their central finishing facility.

Connecting with the artisans themselves is always the most rewarding part of my travels with Nest, as it emphasizes both the importance of Nest‘s work as well as the power craft has to generate livelihoods for rural populations. At the end of the day, all of Nest’s programming – whether it is ethical compliance work, business capacity development, or a professional fellowship mentorship – is about increasing market access for artisan businesses while ensuring the well-being of the artisan producers themselves.

While in the Philippines during my latest trip, I was welcomed into the homes of some amazing women whose quick hands never stopped moving as we talked. I met Perlita, who came to Pampanga from a remote province almost 20 years ago. Now, through her basket weaving, she has been able to send her three children to college and to purchase a workshop of her own that provides employment to 15 other people. I also met with Luisa, who opted to leave her jobs as domestic help in Singapore and Dubai so that she could be at home to raise her family. Luisa now provides not only for her own child but also for her nieces and nephews.

It is quite an experience meeting the makers of artisan products – I hope that Nest can continue playing in role in connecting consumers with the amazing journey that products make and the ripple effect of impact that is felt each time an artisan product is purchased half a world away.

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