Loreta Rafisura of Salay Handmade Paper, Inc told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro they have instituted measures to mitigate the effects of the financial crunch but have been mindful to look after the welfare of their workers.
“Naga cost cutting mi karon and at the same time we are currently doing intensive product development—where we discuss what new product we could offer to our clientele,” Rafisura said.
Rafisura said they are constantly improving their products to keep them competitive in the world market and thus, avoid laying-off most of their workers.
“We need to go back to the basics,” she added.
Their companies have been in business for 22 years with about 97 percent of their products sold in Europe and the US.
Salay Handmade Paper Inc. normally has 230 workers but employs about 200 more depending on the bulk of the orders for their products, she said.
“Ga-vary ang work force namo kay order-oriented man gud among kompanya. Sixty percent of our workers are women.”
Considering their workers as their most important capital, Rafisura said they built a foundation to address their workers’ welfare.
“We currently have 38 scholars who are being funded by the foundation,” she said.
She said they plan to intensify domestic marketing of their products because as of now only 3 percent of our products find its way here in the local market.
“Lately we have suffered a five percent drop in sales, and as a high as 15 percent from one of our clients. Usahay mag-order uban clients pero mohangyo nga dili pa sila maka downpayment sa 50 percent kay medyo lisod ilang cash flow,” Rafisura said.
Unlike the Asian financial crisis in the 90s where they never really felt the pinch, she said, the global financial crisis now has really got their partners worried.
“Kadtong Asian financial crisis adtong 90s wala kaayo namo nabati kay new player pa mi adto. Karon nga financial crisis nabati gyud namo kay active business player na man mi karon,” Rafisura said.
“We even dropped our newspaper subscription para unahon namo ang sweldo sa among mga workers,” she added to stress her point.
They have also diversified their portfolio by engaging in other business ventures.
“We now have a piggery, egg layers and have planted coconut trees and (rootcrops),” Rafisura said citing that now that there is a financial crisis, agribusiness ventures are always dependable.
Rafisura said she is a staunch advocate of the fair trade principle and is the very first woman-member to sit as a board member of the World Fair Trade Organization—Asian Desk.
The network, she said had helped a lot in their business.
“WFTO reported a 166 percent growth despite the crisis,” Rafisura said.