Whenever Malaysian professional conference organiser Place Borneo conducts business events, its activities provide opportunities for local craft women to earn an income through the sale of handmade conference bags, beaded lanyards and other gifts for speakers and VIPs.
Place Borneo does this through collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Sarawak, such as Tanoti and Helping Hands Penan.
Tanoti is a congregation of Sarawakian women weavers and artisans dedicated to the production, promotion and proliferation of handcrafted fabrics. Helping Hands Penan is dedicated to the welfare of the nomadic Penan tribe, whose women are great basket weavers who produce beautiful bags from rattan and jungle produce.
Founder and CEO, Mona Abdul Manap, said conference organisers generally love the idea of supporting local communities this way.
“They can easily buy cheaper bags and souvenirs from China, but they don’t mind spending more for a worthwhile cause that will provide an income for women,” she said.
Place Borneo makes it a point to include the community in its conferencing activities, “if not by way of education or knowledge transfer, then in the form of other economic means such as this”.
“This effectively extends the impact of conferences on Sarawak’s development,” she added.
Place Borneo also finds opportunities to bring the community and their supporting NGOs onto the conference site, where they can display and sell their products.
“With international conferences, there is an opportunity for these NGOs to gain recognition for their cause and for the women, a chance to get future orders from local and international delegates for events they are planning in their home country.
“The more orders they get, the more they will earn. They are skilled artisans, and proud of their heritage. We try and help them to market their handicraft and earn a living from it,” she said.
This story is part of an International Women’s Day series published by TTG Asia and TTGmice, where we highlight organisations in our industry that are committed to supporting gender parity in the workplace and beyond as well as uplifting the quality of life for womenfolk in the communities they interact with through their operations.