|ABKO beaded bag|
Ako Babaeng Katutubo ng Olongapo (ABKO) started in 2014 as a group of indigenous marginalized women and their families. They reside in Sitio Mampueng-Limuran, Iram, Sitio Tralala and New Cabalan in Olongapo City. Being economically disadvantaged made these women participate in providing for the basic needs of their families. Indigenous women individually produce the traditional handicraft in their tribal communities. The handicrafts are made of indigenous materials gathered in the forest, like rattan, bamboo, cogon grass, tree barks. They also source materials from refused waste fabrics (coming from the waste materials of Subic Bay Freeport Zone). To market these handicraft products, ABKO members sell house to house or in markets, malls, offices, schools and inside the Freeport zone. Among the their products are baskets, hunting weapons and tools, musical instruments, mats, wood carvings, doormat, pot holders and hammocks.
The group was accredited by the local government unit of Olongapo City as a Civil Society Organization (CSO). Through the Bottom up Budgeting (BuB) funds, they were able to propose the project “Sustainable Livelihood Project of Handicraft Making for Indigenous Women. ” This was approved, providing the group Php 1 Million worth of project funds for their handicraft making. This was supplemented with a counterpart fund from Olongapo City amounting to Php 666,666.67.
With the funds given to them, the group purchased sewing machines, hand tools & equipment and raw materials. Aside from that, the group was trained to produce other kinds of products. Later on, their handicrafts underwent product development to be more competitive in the market. With the assistance of DTI Zambales, the group was able to join trade fairs and exhibits, attend market forum, attend training and seminars to further enhance their capacities and to explore other markets.
The group ventured into other products like eco bags, jewelries, quilts, cooking utensils and jewelries. From 300 pieces of eco bags, they are now producing 2,000 pieces of eco bags per month; while their quilts, from 50 pieces a week, they now produce 70 pieces a week. Before, they can not even pay the salaries of their workers on time. Now, they adapted the per piece remuneration for products produced by the workers. To be more competitive in the market, they have registered as a BMBE accredited enterprise, with the registered name “JOTS Souvenir Products by ABKO”.