About Karaw Craftventures
Paul, together with his college group mates, established Karaw Ventures originally to fulfill a school requirement for their business management course. The group thought of the word karaw, which meant “play” in Bicolano, as the name for their enterprise to connote the concept of playing with recycled materials to come up with innovative products. The word karaw was also in line with Paul’s creative inclinations, who viewed himself as an artist who relished doing creative things. But he was also a man with other passions, like becoming an entrepreneur, engaging in community outreach projects while in college, and being a staunch environmentalist. Ultimately, Paul incorporated the essential facets of his personality to start a business that focused on producing novelty products from recycled materials.
Through Paul’s community work in Naga City, he discovered that a marginalized sector that received little private sector support involved the inmates in the Naga City Jail. Moreover, Paul’s research on the inmate populations in the country’s various jails revealed to him the deplorable conditions these people faced inside prison walls. For example, he learned that inmates were being sustained with just a Php 50 a day food subsidy from the government. The number of inmates in Philippine jails had also risen by 26 percent from 2010 to 2014, and the congestion rate ran as high as 314 percent.
In establishing Karaw, Paul began partnering with various organizations that provided resources to jump-start the venture. In particular, Paul and his partners received funds that were used for working capital of the enterprise and provided expert training to 11 women inmates of the Naga City Jail. Through his contacts in the artistic community, Paul also partnered with like-minded artists and organizations that extended help in product development and providing further skills training for inmates. They held the pieces of training in the jail, which also became the area for the actual production of novelty items.
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