"These students put up an online shop to sell livelihood products of inmates of the Correctional Institute for Women."
In order to cope with economic challenges and to learn new skills that will serve them not only in the present but also the future, persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) are often taught handicrafts and encouraged to sell their products.
Teaching the skills and making the products are easy enough to set up, but selling and marketing are another thing altogether. It might happen that PDLs have made enough products to fill a room, but if the items aren’t being sold, then their makers aren’t reaping all the benefits they should.
An enterprising tandem of graduate students realized this after visiting the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, Philippines. So last semester, Vea Jane Estrada and Joan Isabel dela Cruz, MA Communication students of the University of Santo Tomas, decided to create an online shop to sell CIW’s livelihood products on the internet.
Estrada and Dela Cruz named the online shop “Yugto Creations” and made a full line of marketing materials and a website, and put up social media accounts “as part of a marketing plan to promote the CIW industrial shop’s brand presence and increase their sales through digital and non-digital initiatives,” according to Estrada.
“Yugto” is a Filipino term that means chapter,” said Dela Cruz. “It signifies the fundamental transition or a development of a story in the lives of the detainees, through the work and livelihood program designed to give them profit and provide income for their families outside CIW.”
The shop offers a wide array of items handcrafted by PDLs, “ranging from woven mats to beaded bags and wallets,” Estrada said. The CIW inmates are best known for their beaded items – bags, purses, keychains, lanyards. “In fact,” she added, “the beaded bags have reached overseas like Europe and Middle East.”
The students explained that through the marketing plan they created, “fresh branding strategies have been formulated and a new logo and name has been made. The CIW was also given new online platforms with which they can sell their products and engage with the public as promotional strategy. Specifically, an official Facebook page and a digital selling platform (Shopee) have both been established. [We] also developed print materials such as signage, product price list, and price tags to enhance the industrial onsite shop.”
I am proud and happy to say that Estrada and De Leon were my students in a Contemporary Marketing Tools class I taught last semester, and this marketing plan was their capstone project for the course.
I encouraged my students to create digital marketing plans for advocacies that they could turn over for actual use. This way, their capstone projects are not mere academic exercises that will be relegated to the depths of their hard drives, but practical and useful plans that can materially benefit those who need them and can’t otherwise afford the expertise.
Estrada and De Leon’s project was supported by the People’s Television Network (PTV), which covered the launch of the campaign on Dec. 10 last year, donated food and other essential items to the CIW, and provided sponsorships and funding strategies for the marketing plan.
Among those who helped with the initiative were Elizabeth Cachin, PTV Gender and Development (GAD) Execom Member, and the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). A Memorandum of Understanding was formally signed by the UST Graduate School, PTV, and CIW to officially turn over the marketing plan.
Present at the launch (conducted with appropriate social distancing and health protocols) were PTV General Manager Katherine Chloe De Castro, PTV GAD Chairperson Philip Joel Evangelista, and Bryan Limen from the office of PCOO Undersecretary Raquel Tobias, among others.
CIW in Mandaluyong City was founded in 1931 with a mission to reform detainees through work and livelihood programs as they prepare to re-enter the mainstream of society renewed and with better outlook in life. The programs of the institution also include moral, spiritual, educational, and vocational training.
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