When we think of Christmas presents to buy our loved ones, locally-made Philippine gifts are probably not the first to come to mind. But we should give them serious consideration. All over the archipelago we have entrepreneurs and small business owners creating high quality products and services.
Buying even just one product from these startups is an expression of support for their company, and in extension, Philippine entrepreneurship. So when we give such gifts to our family and friends, we’re not just giving a present – we’re serving as peer-to-peer advocates for startups and small businesses in the country.
That said, rather than focus on product information, which you can glean by simply following the respective links, I have included below notable facts about each company that would encourage the recipient to be equally excited about its future.
A bag from BAG943
BAG943 follows the one-for-one model popularized by TOMs Shoes – for every bag you purchase from the Filipino social enterprise, they give a bag to a child in need. In effect, this means you give two presents – one to your loved one, and one to someone in need of love. One of the coolest parts is that BAG943 takes volunteers to donate the bags in person to the kids that need them.
A pair of glasses from Four Eyes
For every pair of glasses bought from Four Eyes, the company donates a pair to someone in need via a partnership with World Vision Philippines. Four Eyes sells its glasses through an online store, and the company recently launched a feature that allows users to give a gift card with a customized message (i.e. Merry Christmas, Manny!) to the recipient.
A pair of shoes from Habi Footwear
Habi Footwear is a social enterprise based in Quezon City that makes shoes. The company employs women from nearby underprivileged communities. The women weave, or upcycle, the cloth used in Habi Footwear’s shoes, and for this task, they are paid four times the market rate. Gifting a pair of their shoes is thus an expression of support for Filipino communities and our craftsmanship.
A travel journal by Bo’s Coffee
While Bo’s Coffee is not a startup per se, its travel journal was made to support Filipino small businesses. The journal’s jacket, for instance, was sourced from social enterprise ANTHILL Fabric Gallery, which is based in Cebu and creates hand-woven fabrics. The travel journal is a collaborative project that features content and discounts from social enterprises like FlipTrip, Route +63, Habi Footwear, and Gawad Kalinga, as well as travel features by Filipino writers.
Weekly or monthly passes to coworking spaces
Working from coffee shops can be isolating (not to mention expensive!) Coworking spaces are a good answer to this problem – freelancers and other professionals can work at a beautiful, inspiring space where they can meet like-minded people. Coworking spaces are getting more popular in the Philippines, and notable venues include 47 East in Quezon City; co.lab in Pasig City; A Space Manila in Makati; O2 Space in Makati; andHoneycomb Manila Coworking in Mandaluyong. Gifting someone a coworking pass is giving someone tremendous possibilities – people they can meet, collaborations they can do, and businesses they can generate.
A dairy product from Gourmet Keso
According to Gourmet Keso founder Addison Falcon, 99% of the dairy products in the Philippines are imported from abroad. Gourmet Keso is his attempt to change that, while alleviating poverty at the same time. He wants to build a strong local (and healthy!) dairy brand that employs Gawad Kalinga nanays (mothers). Dairy Christmas indeed!
A planner from Certified Positive
Certified Positive makes spiritual, but non-denominational, planners. The company thus represents a growing trend of products that target the religious community of the country. According to founder Beatrice Tesoro, the planner emphasizes spiritual growth in a fun and interactive way, such as through inspirational testimonials.
A GoPro Organizer Bag from ZIG
The GoPro is a mountable camera that allows users to take first-person footage during physical activities: surfing, rock climbing, skiing, and so on. ZIG is a Philippine made product that was designed to organize and store the many accessories that can go with a GoPro. As its crowdfunding page notes – ZIG was funded through local crowdfunding site The Spark Project – it has the same durability and versatility of the camera it was designed to carry. It’s a fitting gift for any Filipino GoPro enthusiast.
A handwoven backpack from Gugu
Gugu backpacks are sewn by mothers, or nanays, from the town of Daraga in the Bicol region. The Gugu backpacks are intended to increase their prior wage of about only P250 ($5.60*) per week and to empower them as artisan entrepreneurs. Buying a Gugu backpack thus helps preserve the nanays’ practice of weaving from the inroads of mass market producers. Gugu, like ZIG, was also funded through The Spark Project.
A waxed-canvas camera bag from Gouache
Gouache camera bags can store your beloved DLSR camera. According to its project page on The Spark Project, the dividers inside them can also be adjusted so that it can be worn like a satchel. One of its biggest selling points – at least in terms of helping the Philippines – is that the company wants to popularize the technique of canvas waxing within the local bag-making industry. Canvas waxing is apparently what gives each bag its unique finish and allows it to vibrantly age like leather.
A trip from FlipTrip
Studies show that it’s primarily new experiences – and not new belongings – that gives people the most happiness. Filipinos might want to consider sponsoring a trip for their loved ones through FlipTrip, an Ideaspace-backed company that streamlines the process of organizing a getaway. FlipTrip currently have 3 available destinations. Your loved ones can do everything from riding ATVs in Tarlac to going on a ecotour of Manila to surfing in Baler.
The list above is by no means intended to be comprehensive, but only as a starting point for all the great products and services that the Philippine startup and small business community is making. There are many more gifts out there, but there are bound to be hidden gems that have yet to be covered.
Which startup products or services would you recommend as Christmas gifts? Share with us your recommendations by commenting below. – Rappler.com
Rappler Business columnist Ezra Ferraz is also the chief content officer at ZipMatch, a tech company backed by Ideaspace Foundation, Hatchd Digital, IMJ Investment Partners, and 500 Startups. He brings you Philippine business leaders, their insights, and their secrets via Executive Edge. Connect with him on Twitter: @EzraFerraz