The Buri Bag Project is a charitable effort to break the spiral of poverty and cultural loss affecting traditional artisans and their communities in rural areas of Quezon Province, the Philippines.
 
The creation of beautiful, high-quality products from palm leaves is a traditional skill in rural communities of Quezon Province.  Artisans use leaf fronds from the buri palm tree to create hand-made, high-quality woven products of all types, sizes, colors, and patterns.  The most common products are beautiful woven bags.  (Hence our name, "The Buri Bag Project.")

A lack of local markets is gradually strangling this cultural art form, impoverishing the artisans and their families and expanding the ranks of the very poor in Quezon Province.

The Problem:

Traditional artisans in rural areas do not have easy access to consumers seeking beautiful, high-quality, hand-crafted products.  Their wages are low and competition from cheap, machine-made knockoffs is intense.  Many of these artisans live in povery and lack other opportunities to provide for their families.  Over time these artisans become poorer; everyone in the family must pitch in to survive.  In the struggle to survive, the artisans and their children have less and less opportunity for education, advancement, and even medical treatment to improve their quality of life.  Filipino culture values education highly and top-notch medical care is available throughout the Philippines, but the poorest must prioritize food and shelter over time spent at school or non-emergency medical treatment.

Our Approach:

The Buri Bag Project seeks to break the cycle of impoverishment by fostering a profitable environment, giving artisans and their communities in Quezon Province options so they can thrive into the future. Our goal is to make it possible for weavers working with the Project to generate sustainable incomes that place them above the poverty line within 3 years of becoming regular suppliers.
 
In the Philippines, members of The Buri Bag Project work closely with community leaders, local traders, and individual artisans.  Members often provide initial financing for rural weavers to facilitate the purchase of raw materials.  We also assist with advice and support to plan production and pricing; establish inventory management, product standards, and quality control; and organize packaging and shipping of the products.  Finally, we may occasionally offer direct support or assistance to individual weavers, local traders, or their family members to improve quality of life and relieve hardship that would otherwise prevent progress.
 
In the United States and internationally, we work to create a profitable market for these products.  We work with traders, importers, and vendors help sell the products through direct sales and by placing products with sellers in stores, craft shows, and even private-interest or charitable fundraisers. 

The Buri Bag Project started with a focus in the municipality of Sampaloc, in Quezon Province.  We are now gradually expanding to include weavers from the two neighboring towns that share the same pool of rural artisans, Mauban and Lucban. 


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