Crowdfunding helps Yolanda-hit Banago weavers
MANILA, Philippines - Renée Patron, founder of Banago [ba-nah-go], is helping rebuild the dreams of a community through fashion. In November, super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed the fashion company's production facilities and the homes of its more than 400 artisan weavers.
But the determined band of women survivors at Banago have created an extraordinary limited edition line which they are showcasing to the world through Kickstarter.com, where they are raising enough money for a full recovery of their cottage industry.
In fact, the Banago Kickstarter campaign was the first ever approved by the popular crowdfunding site for livelihood restoration in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda. The campaign features their amazing story in a donated video.
Over the weekend, Banago's 160 plus backers joined the company's artisans in celebrating reaching their funding goal of $15,000. With 3 days left to go until their September 18 deadline, Banago already has more than $16,600 in pledges.
All of the proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will go towards livelihood restoration in Guiuan and Eastern Samar. Banago is a quadruple-bottom line fashion company. Its program was unheard of in 2005 when Renée began teaching weavers and farmers – mostly women – to become self-employed business owners and to work within the safety of their own homes.
Banago artisans became leaders in their communities and helped grow genuine opportunity. Renee trained her artisans to own their own businesses. "Genuine opportunity and ownership are essential to the artistic process and form the heart of the creation of unique and beautiful pieces," says Renee. Banago showcases those pieces to the world to the benefit of all participants within all stages of the cottage industry.
Specifically, and accounting for production costs, Banago estimates that one livelihood is directly restored for every $100 pledged to the campaign. The Banago Kickstarter campaign will aim to:
- Restore the livelihoods of more than 400 artisan weavers.
- Provide their families (1,840 local Filipinos) with food for now and income for the future.
- Make sure that their children (more than 900 of them) are able to get an education.
Moreover, the benefits are self-perpetuating, as Banago includes a wide network of materials, farmers and workers.
"When backers buy from Banago, they support the entire market chain and contribute to the recovery of two additional livelihoods within 24 months," says Chris Williams, program director of Livelihood United, the US-based non-profit helping Banago through the recovery.
The Kickstarter campaign also gives Banago's artisans a significant lead time between the orders and the time when the backers anticipate delivery of the product. This lead time would enable Banago to rebuild central storage and production facilities, which it provides to the artisans and other tradespersons who depend on them. With those facilities, Banago’s artisans could regain the high ground and fulfill the demands of global trade partners who carried its products before the storm.
In fact, Banago was an established brand selling in high-end retail stores around the globe, including J. Crew, Anthropologie, Nordstrom’s and Macy’s, plus many others.
Tragically, Banago lost its entire production network and facilities, including the homes of all of its artisans. Renée herself fought for her life in the storm along with the more than 14 million Yolanda victims. Many now cope with the loss of family members (est. 6,300 killed), the loss of income (over 50% of livelihoods), and the loss of an economy (est. $35 billion in damages). Aid has been struggling to reach those who need it most.
But Banago seems determined to honor the spirit of the ancient painted warriors embodied in its vibrant designs. It's motto is "Look Good, Feel Good", and it embodies that mantra in all that it does.
And it's still popular. Renée says in early August, a major US retailer got ahold of 300 Banago bags and sold out in less than 48 hours.
Banago wants to make it sexy to care. It's hoping the success of its campaign may help change the way donors look at post-disaster livelihood restoration. Banago backers get a unique opportunity to get close to their beneficiaries through fair trade, and will help Banago grow a trend of consumers and corporations to be more aware of long-term impact and sustainability. – Rappler.com
I met Banago Founder, Ms. Renée Patron, during my trip to Guiuan this past February as a volunteer for Livelihood United where I helped develop a livelihood restoration program for the UNDP (United Nations Development Program) .
My volunteer efforts were part of a legal externship and field study as a third-year student at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota. Renee was one of the business leaders l met at the UNDP meetings and her efforts inspired me to continue my advocacy for these brave survivors since returning to my wife, kids, and studies in Minneapolis.