MANILA, Philippines – In doing business, people often say there’s no room for emotion – just logic and business sense. For one woman-owned social enterprise though, it’s compassion and empathy for others that drove the business to the success it is today, proving that a female-run business can grow, even with emotion at its heart.
Akrisah D. Helig is the founder and owner of Kreations Upcycle Furniture Manufacturing, a Rizal-based business that creates handicrafts and home furnishings from retaso (scrap cloth), and which employs housewives and home-makers in Rizal.
“I started Kreations selling retaso or fabric yarns. Eventually I thought of making crochet products. I tapped our community in our barangay in Antipolo City and nagturo ako sa mga mothers sa paano mag-crochet (I taught mothers in our community how to crochet). We started making bags and ano-ano pang handicrafts, out of those fabrics,” shared Akrisah, who’s fondly called by her mother-employees as ‘Akre’.
What started as a hobby turned into a passion, a passion that enabled her to empower the women in her community.
“When I started Kreations, talagang andon yung desire ko to train mga women from the community para makapagbigay ng income or sustainable na livelihood sa kanila (When I started Kreations, it was with the goal to really help give income or a sustainable livelihood to the women),” said Akre.
Kreations has a regular workforce of 8-10 women, but overall, benefits as much as 50 women from Angono, Taytay, and all over Rizal. Pre-pandemic, the upcycling business used to tap as much as 200 women from these communities but had to downscale due to the health crisis.
For the seamstresses, Kreations was not just a hobby – it became a source of livelihood that economically empowered them to contribute to their household.
“Malaking tulong na nakapasok ako sa Kreations, kasi noon po bilang ang asawa ko isang tricycle driver syempre alam naman natin na nakadepende sa ginagawa niya yung kita. Dahil nakapasok ako sa Kreations nakakatulong ako sa kanya sa bayarin, sa kung ano kailangan namin sa tahanan, sa pagaaral ng anak ko (Working in Kreations allowed me to help my husband, who is a tricycle driver. With my job, I’m able to contribute to paying for household expenses and for our children’s education),” said Annaliza Santos, Production Manager of Kreations Upcycle Furniture Manufacturing.
With Kreations acquiring financial support and internet connection from Converge, done through the start-up show, “The Final Pitch”, the business is ready to further expand.
From Akre’s home in Antipolo, Kreations is now in a manufacturing hub in Angono,Rizal, where the mothers and home-makers create handicrafts and home furniture for SME clients and corporations.
Powering her connection in both Antipolo and in Angono is Converge’s fiber broadband, which has become instrumental in the way they do business.
“Since meron na kami ng napakabilis at napakagandang internet connection through Converge, mas nakatulong ito sa pag communicate sa customers – mas mabilis kami nakakareply, mas marami kaming clients kasi easier to post promotion and advertising online and sobrang helpful din siya sa community sa mga mothers. Mas ginagahanan sila mag-tahi kasi nakakanood sila ng Youtube and nakakapag soundtrip sila and even sa mga anak nila pumupunta sila dito to do their online classes and research so hindi lang sa amin but family and community nakakatulong (Since we have Converge’s fast and reliable connection, we’re able to communicate faster with customers, we’re getting more clients because we’re able to promote and advertise more online, and the connection is helpful for the mothers too. They’re encouraged to work because they have YouTube, they can listen to music, and even their children come here to use the internet for online classes. It’s not just the business but the community),” said Akre.
Because of her compassion and desire to help, Akre has made not just a successful business but a caring family from the mothers she employs – a family that shares its resources and works together.
Looking ahead, Akre is sure that Converge’s fiber fast connection will be even more important for their growth, saying: “One of our plans this year is to have our own website where we will put all of our orders in. We’re going to need a really fast and reliable internet to maximize that online platform.”