Doing well, while doing good, is the mantra of the growing number of companies who espouse Corporate Social Responsibility (C.S.R.).
We in Binalot, however, believe that for C.S.R. to make even better sense, it should promote the “win-win” approach. While setting aside funds to help communities is a noble undertaking, it would be better if both the corporation and the community benefit from the C.S.R. program. This ensures that the project can be sustained over a long term, and not become just a one-shot deal.
Our DAHON (Dangal At Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon) Program, we are proud to say, does just that – an example of how both the community and the company can benefit from the same program.
Initiated at the start of 2007, DAHON helps farmers from Nagcarlan, Laguna, a quaint town nestled at the foothills of mystic Mt. Banahaw, about 100 kms. South of Manila, earn more from selling banana leaves. And as the farmers plant and sell more banana leaves, Binalot benefits because we are ensured a steady supply of quality banana leaves at a low price. Binalot is heavily dependent on banana leaves because our meals are served wrapped in a banana leaf, which locks in the food’s flavor (Binalot is a Filipino word which means wrapped). Having that dedicated community that not only supplies the leaves, but also cuts and sanitizes them to Binalot’s specifications, eliminates added costs.
The DAHON program’s benefits have also gone beyond just the economic. DAHON, for instance, has empowered the women of the community as they now earn about 200 pesos a day from cutting the leaves. It has also given the elderly a sense of purpose because they’ve been given a chance to remain productive by helping cut and prepare the leaves.
The environment has also benefited from the program as leaf trimmings, which used to be thrown away by Binalot’s commissary (and therefore find their way to the city’s mounting trash heaps), are now used as compost material at the community level. Even the community chapel cum day care center has also benefited from the DAHON program, acquiring a much needed renovation and re-painting, with labor and materials provided by Binalot.
And the benefits just keep on coming.
Plans are afoot to set up backyard fishponds and vegetable gardens (particularly tomatoes and onions, which are among Binalot’s staple ingredients), which will further augment the farmers’ incomes and ensure a steady supply of ingredients to Binalot.
Binalot is also looking into the possibility of duplicating this successful model to other communities in other parts of the country that can be developed to supply other goods that Binalot needs to expand.
With the DAHON program, Binalot has shown that you don’t have to be big to make a difference. You just need to have an idea and the commitment to turn it into reality.
Binalot is truly committed to advocating for rural development by persistently empowering the communities.