More than a Name
More than a Name
Every person you lock eyes with has dignity in them. When your gaze meets theirs, can you see it? If you look hard enough or long enough, you will be able to see the beauty that is dignity in a person.
For some people, the cycles of poverty and slavery in this world have buried that dignity. Past experiences have told them to camouflage and guard the part of their inner being that knows they are worth it. They matter. They are not less. Others who have claimed power over them have stripped away their God-given dignity. When a person believes the lie that they are powerless and insignificant, the cycles of poverty and slavery will be allowed to continue. We are determined to break those chains. And it starts with each person having the self-respect and belief that they are capable and worth it.
Our business employs locals. Many locals. Each employee represents a family. If we are employing 150 people and sourcing coconuts from 300 farmers at each plant, then we are affecting the lives of over 2,000 people in that community. In communities with high unemployment rates, that can transform everything.
There certainly are times and places for handouts. Handouts are not bad, but they can take away somethings from a person as they give something else. A handout provides temporary relief, but there is a bigger problem looming. A handout can create unhealthy dependency. A handout can take away a person's dignity. Giving someone a job says, "You are worth the time and effort to train and empower. You are capable. You can provide for your loved ones. You matter."
Handouts don't bring hope for the future.
We believe that people are more important than profits. We will produce the best products on the market using the best methods possible. We will sustain our business through profits. We will be profitable for the sake of the community - in order to stay there. To be out there. To support jobs. To break chains of poverty and slavery.
Our name is not a cute marketing tool. It's who we are. We bring jobs. We believe in people. We restore dignity.
Modern-day slavery is a 43 billion dollar industry and growing, with millions of women and children being treated like property. One-third of the world lives on less than $2/day, driving them to despair, desperation and hopelessness. The heavy weight of these chains of poverty and slavery are too much to bear.
We want to bring a hope that will rise up and give communities the strength to lift the despair and break the cycles that have existed for generations. This kind of hope changes things. This kind of hope brings dignity. We believe that employment and community development can bring this kind of hope. When we employ a person, we unearth the innate dignity inside of them. Hope rises to the top. Despair lifts. Entire communities change.
Because we believe that location matters, we are set on going to the hard places, the places without hope. They are often overlooked. Logistically difficult. Poor. Undereducated. Trapped in cycles that take their dignity. We know it will be harder and take more work, yet we believe it is worth it. They matter.
We want this hope to be lasting. We are not bringing handouts. We are not breezing through. This is not a short-term solution.
We want this hope to be theirs. That's why we will ask first. We will help the community change itself in positive ways that it can sustain. There is no cookie cutter community development plan that works perfectly in every location. We don't have all the answers. We want to partner together to find them. Another way we are brokering hope.
We want this hope to spread. We are establishing an atmosphere where dignity and hope seep through the pores of each person. And it's not going to stop here. It will spread. We look forward to the days when we cannot contain it, when we cannot count how many hope brokers we have.
New Roads were built to our production plant. We gained favor with the government. They see the benefit of our presence. In turn, those roads help the people of Bicol.
Businesses are drawn to our location. Accessibility brings commerce and more jobs. It's contagious.
Families are reuniting. Parents are coming back to their hometowns for jobs instead of leaving to find work in bigger cities.
Through training, our business will be a catalyst to improve issues like unemployment rates, cycles of sickness, personal finances, education, environment, business development, leadership and water sanitation.
Training has been a part of Dignity from Day One. Our architectural plans include it. A significant portion of the square footage at our plant is designed for training and educating. It is at the core of the methodology we use to transform the community.
We thoroughly train our employees. Our process is rigorous and precise. We train for excellence in order to produce a superior product. An educated workforce is a more competitive workforce. We invest significantly in employees' education. For example, we allow them to gain an understanding about financial management while we exemplify good budgeting and accounting. We teach specific skills that can carry over into future jobs. We encourage promotions and more training. We want to see each of our employees succeed in the plant and beyond.
And it's not just about our own workers. It is about educating the entire community. We hold community education events like the one you see above. We are teaching members of the community how to make their laundry soap and best practices to enhance their everyday life. We dream of multipurpose rooms full of Filipinos learning about budgeting, disease prevention, management skills and so much more.
Globally, women are undervalued and marginalized at best and abused physically or sexually at worst. So many women find themselves enslaved in the sex industry. Others are trapped in the cycle of poverty. In both cases, there seems little hope of breaking out of their present circumstances.
But Dignity recognizes that women are often the key to bringing transformation to families and communities. They just need opportunity and the resources to make it happen.
For that reason, we are intentionally working to have a significant number of women at every level of the company...workers, leaders, board members and investors. We are providing paid diversity training, with the intention of instilling in our employees the value of all people in general, and women specifically. And we are creating economic opportunity for women through fair pay and profit sharing, as well as access to banking and financial services.
Most coconut companies contract only with big plantations in order to reduce costs. This leaves owners of small farms at the mercy of middlemen who consolidate these smaller harvests while taking a large cut for themselves. Furthermore, these middlemen take advantage of these farmers by offering loans in their time of need. On the outside, these middlemen look like kind friends, as they are providing money for a low harvest, medical needs, schooling fees, etc., yet these loans come at a high price - often having interest rates of 25 - 200%.
With these interest rates, it becomes nearly impossible to pay back the loan before another need arises, leaving the farmer in a cycle of debt. The terms are never written down or explained, so these simple farmers never realize that their “friend” is the very person keeping them in poverty. Even for the few who realize the system (commonly known as “copra slavery”) works against them, they have no other options.
Our goal is to connect these local farmers directly to the global economy, introduce them to you! We are giving farmers an opportunity to get fair prices for their coconuts and be treated with respect. We want to help them recognize their innate dignity after years of oppression.