MIAGAO, ILOILO- On October 19, 2023, Canadian Ambassador David Bruce Hartman and Senior Trade Commissioner Guy Boileau paid a visit to the Indag-an Multipurpose Cooperative (MPC) in Miagao, Iloilo, accompanied by DTI Region VI, DTI Iloilo Provincial Office and Catalyste+ (formerly CESO) Philippines representatives. This visit aimed to acknowledge the remarkable progress and impact that the Indag-an MPC, one of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) supported by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Catalyste+ under the Accelerating Women Empowerment (AWE) program, has made in its community.
The AWE program, initiated in 2020, is part of Catalyste+’s broader mission to enhance economic and social well-being, particularly for women and girls, in developing countries and contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Indag-an MPC, having received assistance from three Catalyste+ Advisors, was recommended for the visit by Catalyste+ Philippines due to the significant impact of the support they had received. The cooperative is part of a weaving community in Miagao, known for producing high-quality hablon or handwoven textiles.
The distinguished guests were welcomed by DTI Iloilo Provincial Director Ma. Dinda Tamayo, DTI Region VI personnel, and Catalyste+ Philippines Project Officer Mr. Erwin Altamarino. Also present during the visit were Ms. Nenita Gayoma, Chairperson of Indag-an MPC, SB Member Cesar Florece from the Municipality of Miagao, Indag-an MPC staff, and LGU Miagao personnel.
Marjorie Segurigan of Indag-an MPC gave a presentation on the results of Catalyste+’s assistance, while DTI Iloilo PD Ma. Dinda Tamayo presented DTI’s assistance and contribution to the cooperative’s growth.
Ambassador Hartman addressed the women weavers, commending their remarkable craftsmanship and the impact of Canadian expertise and guidance in enhancing their products. He expressed the Canadian government’s commitment to assisting the cooperative in finding export markets for their hablon textiles.
“The garments are really of remarkable quality. I’m very excited to see some of you weaving. It’s important for me to hear directly from you, about the type of support you’re receiving and the type of support you would like to receive,” said Hartman.
He highlighted the connection between women’s empowerment and the broader success of communities, echoing the sentiment that “if we invest in women, we invest in success.”
Hartman’s statement encapsulates the growing recognition of the transformative impact that women’s economic empowerment can have on societies. By providing support and opportunities for women to thrive, not only are individual lives improved, but entire communities and regions can experience positive change.
The Indag-an MPC comprises 20 weavers who are mostly women, can produce an impressive 2,240 shawls in a month, in addition to handkerchiefs, table runners, and hablon cloth.
The visit wrapped up with a showcase of hand-loom weaving and an opportunity for the guests to personally engage in the craft, trying their hand at weaving.
DTI Iloilo Provincial Director Ma. DindaTamayo emphasized the significance of the weavers’ inclusion in the Regional Inclusive Innovation Center, focusing on weaving. She noted the weavers’ role as a model for women’s groups working towards the upliftment of women and marginalized individuals in their community.
The visit of the Canadian Ambassador and Senior Trade Commissioner highlighted the collaborative efforts of Catalyste+ and the DTI in supporting the growth and development of local enterprises, particularly those contributing to the empowerment of women and the marginalized. As the weavers of Indag-an MPC work towards expanding their market and continuing to produce high-quality products, they have the backing of Canadian assistance and the support of DTI, local government unit and other partners.