WEAVING. The women mat weavers of Samar with their products in this undated photo. A group of mat weavers has emerged as the most innovative women entrepreneur in Eastern Visayas and will compete in the national innovation challenge.
(Photo courtesy of Spark Samar)

TACLOBAN CITY – A group of mat weavers has emerged as the most innovative women entrepreneur in Eastern Visayas and will compete in the national innovation challenge.
The Basey Association of Native Industry Growth (BANIG), Inc. of Basey, Samar ranked first of the five nominees in the 2023 Search for the Most Innovative Women Entrepreneurs in Eastern Visayas dubbed as “Unlad Bayi” (Women Development) by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The group has been making woven products such as bags, home decorations, and accessories made of “tikog” (reed grass) and buri leaves. The weaving and designs are inspired by the daily lives of the people of Samar. The enterprise has provided jobs to persons with disabilities, mothers, and youth.

“We owe our success as the most innovative women entrepreneur in the region to our aspiration of helping the community of women. We thank DOST for this opportunity and recognition. We are especially thankful to Samar provincial government for their unending support and all the national government agencies that believed in us. This is for the people of Samar,” BANIG, Inc. president Anita Ogrimen said in a statement.

The DOST announced the winners on Tuesday after a two-day pitching session at the Summit Hotel here.

Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan committed to continue the provincial government’s support to women weavers of Basey town.

“I was inspired by the dedication and passion of BANIG in empowering women and promoting their skills and crafts. The impact you have made in women’s lives, particularly our weavers, is truly commendable,” Tan said.

The DOST has received 32 entries from different provinces in Eastern Visayas. Ten were shortlisted to do a pitch presentation and only five were picked to compete in the national competition in 2024.

Each of the five regional winners received a P50,000 cash incentive and will be endorsed as entries for the national search with a chance to win up to PHP5 million worth of funding assistance.

“For these five regional winners, we will provide continuing assistance to the nominee enterprises to further prepare them for the national competition,” DOST Eastern Visayas regional director Ernesto Granada said.

The other four winners are Azotea de Maasin in Maasin City; Caputo’s Farm in Kawayan, Biliran; Tabo Software Development Services in Dagami, Leyte; and Todoc’s Special Native Delicacies in Abuyog, Leyte.

Azeotea De Maasin is a catering service that uses food packaging made from eco-friendly materials.

Sister Teodula Forones of Caputo’s Farm introduced turmeric planting with the intent to provide free books to poor students. She also opened Caputo’s Farm for employment in exchange for turmeric production. The farm paid for the tuition of the children of the mother-workers.

Tabo Software Development Services is a web-based agricultural e-commerce platform that connects smallholder farmers to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) or institutional buyers and addresses the information disconnect between the demand for agricultural produce.

Todoc’s Special Native Delicacies has been showcasing the diverse culinary heritage and cultural tradition of Leyte through the production of moron, a mixture of sticky rice and chocolate.

The search is part of the Women-Helping-Women: Innovating Social Enterprise Program funded by the DOST-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

The initiative provides a grant to support women-led social enterprises that need access to technology, early-stage funding and customized gender-focused support.

(SARWELL Q. MENIANO with reports from Ading Riodeque, Jesica Lentejas, and Roxanne Rojales, OJTs/PNA)