MANILA — In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, people hustled to help out in any way they could. Some sold their art and photography, others organized book drives, some people held gigs, others sold refashioned clothing donations. A lot of social enterprises were born, and one such initiative was Taclob, a backpack business that aims to create jobs for typhoon survivors.
Taclob's banner product is a bag named "Compassion." The bag is upcycled from Japanese tarpaulins and old jeans. The bright red backpack can hold a 13-inch laptop among other things, and would not be out of place on a beach or in an office. Perhaps most importantly, the bag is made by typhoon survivors.
Social entrepreneur Jourdan Sebastian shared that the initiative started when in the course of relief operations, survivors he met told him that they needed jobs most of all. Sebastian spearheads Taclob as its "Chief Evangelist Officer," and is also the COO of Operation Airdrop, an initiative that distributes relief goods to under-served areas affected by Haiyan.
"Taclob is a social enterprise with the survivors. We partner with them, we partner with local survivors. These guys are heroes," Sebastian said. Partnering with bag-making company Khumbmela, Taclob teaches and trains Haiyan survivors to create the product.
Sebastian highlighted the bag's eco-friendliness, saying that the product itself is their way of telling people that disasters like Haiyan happen because of climate change.
"We get the garbage and trash of other people and we make them into awesome products and by that we tell people that the storm surge that happened that devastated the whole region is caused by us not taking care of the environment," he said.
As an enterprise, Taclob encourages people to be part of a more socially-aware consumer lifestyle.
"When Haiyan struck, when Yolanda happened, people donated, but they got tired of donating. With the government, with international agencies, you don't know where your money's going, but with this, we transitioned with social enterprise," Sebastian said.
"With the funds that you give us, you get something back, you get a product, you're able to build enterprise, you're able to create jobs, you're able to build livelihood. You have a tangible product in your hand as you give. It's like a movement, for them to be part of a consumer lifestyle that says, yes we're gonna be conscious on what we give our money to, we're gonna be conscious on where we give our donations to," he added.
With a $100 (P4,300) pledge, donors not only get a Compassion backpack for themselves, but buy a Courage backpack for a child in Typhoon-prone areas. The Courage backpack doubles as a flotation device that is designed for storm surges, tidal waves, and tsunamis.
"You get one, you give one. This is named compassion, the bag that is designed to float is called courage. So you get compassion, you give courage, so that's the whole movement. that's what we're about," Sebastian said.