This entrepreneur believes that working with farmers and indigenous peoples in poor and conflict-stricken areas in Mindanao is an opportunity for his brand to help uplift their lives.
Cocobody sources its coconuts from Maguindanao and Lanao del Norte, two of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. Reynaldo Pacheco Jr., the brand’s President and Founder, considers working with the farmers there a great opportunity to help uplift their lives.
“When you think of these places, you think of war, of conflict. Most investors do not even go there. Our contribution there is we provide jobs. For the past 15 years, we were able to provide jobs to up to 100 families,” Reynaldo says.
Aside from farming, Cocobody makes it a point to teach its farmhands other practical skills such as basic computer literacy since they also communicate with workers based in Metro Manila, manufacturing processes and quality control. Reynaldo says it is also very important for him to instill in his workers the values of love for God and country, honesty, and hard work among many others.
Cocobody also employs members of the different indigenous tribes in the area. The indigenous peoples, Reynaldo says, form the core of their workforce. Among them is 27-year-old Gary, a member of the Tiruray tribe from Cotabato. He started working for Cocobody as a helper three years ago. Now, he is based in the company’s Taytay facility.
“Ginusto ko talaga makarating dito para magkaroon ng karagdagang experience. Dahil sa trabaho ko, nakakatulong ako sa pamilya ko sa Cotabato lalo na sa pagpapagawa ng bahay ng tatay ko doon,” Gary says. He adds that his tribe also uses coconut-based products for hair and body treatment.
Reynaldo says that Cocobody practices fair trade and does not take advantage of its partner farmers, knowing that this will benefit their families and will also encourage them to produce good quality coconuts for the company.
Aside from its farmers, Cocobody also has around 60 employees involved in its operations, sales and manufacturing. One of them is consultant Rene, who is originally from Zamboanga del Norte. A pioneer employee, he set up the machines that are being used in their Cotabato facility.
“Malaki ang naging pagbabago simula nang magtrabaho ako sa Cocobody. Nakapagpundar ako ng sarili kong bahay sa Antipolo at napag-aral ko ang mga anak ko at nasusuportahan ang mga apo ko,” Rene says.
Cocobody, Cocolicious and other products are available at Kultura located in SM Malls. You may also order Cocobody, Cocolicious and other uniquely Filipino items at www.kulturafilipino.com. When you support Cocobody products, you also support the coconut farmers of Mindanao.
[Additional photo from Cocobody]