The past few years have been challenging and it's no surprise that a lot of people are looking for various sources of livelihood.
As a way to help out in this respect, Universal Robina Corporation's (URC) Flour Division launched Ambag ni Juan, a livelihood project that aims to support seamstresses from Barangay Bagong Ilog in Pasig City.
Gemma Tacata, URC Flour Division's Human Resources and EHS Manager and one of the project's main proponents, shared that they conceptualized the project back in 2019 even before the pandemic struck. They envisioned converting used flour sacks into eco-bags as a way to practice sustainability within their division.
At that time, URC Flour was also busy with several projects aimed at helping the residents of Bagong Ilog. Some of these projects included clean-up drives of Pasig's riverbanks and bread- and pastry-making workshops, which were well-received by women wanting to start their own businesses.
Tacata recalled that it was during the implementation of these projects that they were introduced to skilled seamstresses within the community. When Tacata's team offered the seamstresses the project of producing the first batch of flour-sack eco-bags for "Ambag Ni Juan," the ladies readily accepted.
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"In line with our company's value of putting people first, we want to extend support to local communities through livelihood and sustainability projects. Building a relationship with our community has always been our priority," Tacata shared.
Eventually, the one batch of eco-bags became three, which then became a source of additional income to Bagong Ilog's seamstresses during the pandemic. To integrate sustainability within their operations, URC Flour and their partners now use the eco-bags internally.
Tacata also said that her team even met up with URC's management committee to promote the usage of the eco-bags among URC's other departments. She hopes that through this, Bagong Ilog's seamstresses would get more orders for eco-bags from the different URC organizations.
In the future, Tacata wants Ambag Ni Juan's coverage to be extended. Currently, their team is eyeing the local communities in Davao City and Quezon Province. Ambag Ni Juan is one of the many corporate social responsibility projects URC Flour and Division has been rolling out every year to support local communities.